Residents taking a stroll, checking the mail, or heading to the Bistro for a cup of coffee are met by friendly smiles and waves from neighbors. And we often forge deeper ties with neighbors as we go about our daily life. At Friends House Retirement Community, there are so many ways to find like-minded friends, so many chances to connect over shared interests. The Seniors Association manages an impressive array of activities, programs, classes, and hobby groups. And Friends House has all the amenities you need to pursue your own interests alone or with just a few comrades. Those living in our community easily discover new amigos, besties, buddies, and pals. At Friends House, we get it! It is friends like you who make aging in place so much sweeter.
This February, the month of camaraderie and love, we’d like to take a moment to recognize the many friendships – between residents, among staff members and residents’ families, between Friends House and people in the wider community – that define and shape our lives at this Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Residents at Friends House know better than anyone: it’s not “home sweet home” without neighborly support and caring for each other.
How Resident-Run Committees and Activities Sweeten Our Lifestyle and Neighborhood
What makes our neighborhood so friendly – and a Friends House lifestyle especially appealing to the seniors who join our community? Partly, it is our many individualized services available right on campus, ranging from complimentary basic maintenance to housekeeping, laundry, and transportation options and our barber/beauty shop, and pharmacy. Of course, the Friends House appeal is also due to delicious and flexible dining plans and menus, beautiful indoor and outdoor green spaces, and the interesting range of apartments, cottages, and lodges occupied by a diverse group of residents.
Most of all, visitors appreciate all the signs of our rich friendships: at decorated front doors, on tables in common areas, on the walking paths, or during every volunteer activity on campus. The most talked about things at Friends House – like our two-acre organic garden, our creative arts room, our enrichment projects in nursing areas, and the active aging group – are volunteer resident-run and even resident-funded through revenue from the Elephant Shop or the community garden, as well as donations from community members both on campus and in the wider community. There is simply no other CCRC anywhere that enjoys such a rewarding and flexible community life.
“Friends House offers a lifestyle that is truly engaging, active, and unique,” says Anne Derby, Director of Development at Friends House. “Our team works hard to care for our residents and our residents work hard to care for each other – and this caring community makes it all possible.”
How Our Community Cares
What makes the community at Friends House different from the relationships you or your loved ones could have at any other retirement community? While most retirement communities will take care of housing needs and offer engagement activities, the Friends House community of residents is unique in caring for a wide range of hobbies, interests, and needs. Our large and well-managed library, for instance! There is also the Active Aging Committee that develops wellness activities for everyone, while residents with our Free Rides Program cheerfully give their time to help neighbors with local transport needs.
Here, friends from within as well as outside our community give a lot; they pay attention not just to their own well-being but to the well-being of their neighbors and peers, including friends in healthcare areas. For example, proceeds from the community’s Elephant Shop, which accepts donations of gently-used furniture, clothing, household items and much more, all go back into funding the community’s lifestyle. A portion of that revenue is also reserved for community donations and special funds, including our all-important Residents Assistance Fund, which is also bolstered by gifts from donors.
The senior living industry and government assistance for older adults in America have a serious problem: there’s a sizable care gap between older Americans’ needs and means. But with the help of our residents and donations from the community, Friends House provides more care for more people who need it. In 2022, Friends House was able to subsidize over a million dollars in uncompensated care and services for seniors whose needs exceeded their financial capabilities. We call that “Friends Helping Friends.” This central value at Friends House is a testament to our community, philanthropists, staff and residents. We are proud that we’re able to help as many people as we do. But the gap remains! Donations are always welcome!
How You Can Give and Help Ensure Everyone Has Access to the Sweet Life
What can you do to help everyone at Friends House have the sweetest life possible? In our Stabler and Thomas Nursing Care neighborhoods, there is an average gap of $130 in care per day per person, and federal and state subsidies do not cover many healthcare essentials like hearing, vision, and dental aids and procedures. Meanwhile, for residents in our Assisted Living neighborhood, no government assistance is available. Some of our community’s long-term residents have outlived their savings and can no longer pay the full cost of their care.
This is where our Residents Assistance Fund comes in. It provides financial assistance to as many residents as possible who cannot afford their care or have outlived their resources. Please consider helping.
As we look to the future, let us begin by offering sincere thanks to all of our supporters during 2022. The members of our community will continue to thrive thanks to friends helping friends. This year our Residents Assistance Fund has been the source of support for a large number of individuals coping with difficulties and hardships.
To be part of this flexible support that residents can count on, no matter what their circumstances are, visit GivetoFriends.org.