Senior community residents tell us about pleasant surprises

From discovering a quaint neighborhood park within walking distance to realizing there's a group of neighbors who share your hobby, there is excitement to a living in a new place.

We asked several people to tell us what surprised them about their new community. It turns out many are surprised to be developing so many friendships later in life. Here is what they said:

Warren Hernand, 77
Ocean House, Santa Monica, a Brookdale Senior Living Community

There are two groups in assisted living: those there because of illness and those there by choice.

I was in the second group. My biggest surprise at Ocean House was that these groups have different emotional and physical requirements. Each require different approaches to facilitate maximum happiness, satisfaction, and contentment.

Early on, I encouraged an experiment to see if the second group could find even more happiness, contentment and fulfillment. I chose to work with the single men exclusively, by creating a community within the community that would satisfy the needs of these men. Thus far, this experiment has been an outstanding success, so much so that we are bursting at the seams with new men who want to be a part of the Men's Club. We have our meals together in a reserved space where we can congregate and converse. We attend monthly activities outside the facility. But, most importantly, we create friendships with the other men from the moment they walk through the door.

Jerry Savitt, 83
Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, Ill.

I was surprised by how nice all of the people are to one another. Everyone always says hello and smiles and asks how you're doing. Everyone is friendly to one another. We lived in a condo for 10 years and this is so different. We had neighbors that we'd never see, but here everyone's friendly and encourages me to meet other people.

I'm busier than I was living at (the condo). There were a lot of times that I'd just sit and read. Now I have to pick my times that I'm going to read because I always have other things to do such as fitness and discussion groups. Most of the ones that I like have to do with politics.

Howard Blumenthal, 88
Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, Ill.

We got tired of shopping and cooking. Those are the guiding principles to seeking a retirement community. We came to look at Sedgebrook and walked around. It took my wife quite awhile to decide that she wanted to pick out an apartment ... about five minutes actually.

I'm going to quote my wife, who quotes Benjamin Franklin. 'One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, three are hardly possible.' When we moved here we found that doesn't hold any water. We have more friends now than total from our lifetime put together. And good friends.

One of the things I like best is that we're right on the Des Plaines River Trail. I love biking. I have a group of four or five bikers and once or twice a month, we ride 15 miles on the trail.

Evelyn Hilton, 86
Tri-State Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Lansing, Ill.

I had been here before visiting my husband when he was here. I knew about the people who lived here and how well they were treated. That's what brought me here.

At first I thought I didn't belong. But, people are so friendly and I met a lot of new people. It's good to be around people and I found out it was good for me.

Naomi R. Magro, 96
Tri-State Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Lansing

It's nice having more friends. Even the people that work here are friends.

Everybody works to help you and gets along together. I needed care because I had fallen and couldn't live on my own anymore.

I'm a people person; I've worked with people all my life. My family owned a candy and school supply shop so I was working with people way back then.

I also like all the activities and all the action.

Jody Paige for Primetime

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