Senior living assistance leads to independence at Whitcomb Terrace | AspenTimes.com

Senior living assistance leads to independence at Whitcomb Terrace

Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital
Positive energy permeates through Whitcomb Terrace, where residents encourage each other to attend art shows, go for walks outside, head to the theater or any other activity that piques their interests.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Rare openings at Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living

Whitcomb Terrace, a 15-resident assisted living community in Aspen, has several rare openings right now. For more information about the community’s services and amenities, visit www.aspenvalleyhospital.org/Whitcomb-Terrace-Assisted-Living.

To apply for residency, contact Maggie Gerardi at 970-544-1530, or mgerardi@aspenhospital.org.

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This vibrant assisted living community in Aspen has rare openings right now

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Aspen Valley Hospital

Seniors often assume that moving into an assisted living community equates to a loss of independence, but the reality is this environment often delivers more independence for seniors compared to what they had while living alone.

In Aspen, assisted living at Whitcomb Terrace operates more like a retreat where residents and staff truly enjoy each other’s company and have access to countless educational and cultural experiences in the community, all while living purposeful and active lives. The not-for-profit community, owned by Aspen Valley Hospital, has just 15 total residences, providing a family-like atmosphere that feels warm and welcoming for residents.

Whitcomb Terrace Director Maggie Gerardi has worked at the community for 18 years. In that time, they have typically had a full census, which is why she said Whitcomb’s current openings present an exciting opportunity for folks “to claim a rare spot at Aspen’s premiere place to age well.”

The Whitcomb Terrace staff is focused on helping residents thrive by remaining active in the community. Most staff members have been at Whitcomb for 10 to 25 years, providing residents with the comfort of seeing familiar faces every day and providing them with personal, trusted care.

Enhanced quality of life

As seniors age, living at home is often something that remains important. They’re surrounded by memories, but keeping up with house care and self care can become increasingly difficult.

Gerardi said many seniors feel that if they can manage on their own, why should they stop living at home? But that is precisely the time when seniors and their loved ones should start considering an assisted living community — long before they think they “need” it.

“So often people move in, and love it so much that they wish they had made the transition years before. People don’t realize the negative impact loneliness and isolation have on one’s quality of life,” she said. “If people move in before they think they’re fully ready, they’ll end up thriving more than they were at home, and maintain that level of health longer.”

Those who want to maintain their privacy can absolutely do so, and thrive at Whitcomb, too. Not all residents want to participate in all of the activities, and that’s OK. They can maintain their personal freedom while also taking advantage of the services and amenities provided at Whitcomb Terrace, Gerardi said.

Meredith Daniel, activities coordinator at Whitcomb Terrace, said

determining when assisted living is an appropriate choice for a family member or loved one, or even for yourself, is understandably hard.

“However, we’ve observed there are benefits derived from giving the responsibilities of daily life over to a qualified and loving staff,” Daniel said. “Quality of life is naturally enhanced by social interaction, activity stimulation, and the relaxation that comes with having your daily needs met.”

Grateful relatives

When Molly Child’s mother, Ruth Johnston, lived at Whitcomb Terrace, she could still attend her church in Basalt thanks to the community providing rides for her. She lived close to her family in Aspen and could enjoy many stays and visits at their home. She would often go over to the hospital’s physical therapy clinic to use the exercise bicycle — at the age of 96! Child said she also loved swimming at the Aspen Rec Center.

While Whitcomb Terrace might be a place where people live in their later years, what makes it special is that it’s truly a place for these seniors to live and thrive while they have plenty of years left.

“Our family will always be grateful for the loving care that the Whitcomb staff gave our mom, making her last years joyful ones,” Child said.

Craig Ward’s mother lived at Whitcomb Terrace for many years. An Aspen resident, he and his sister, Dr. Carol Ward, fondly recall how the Whitcomb staff brings “heart and hands and humor to carry your elders through the golden autumn of their lives.”

“I’m surprised Whitcomb Terrace is not filled to the brim, and with a long waiting list,” Craig Ward said. “If our Aspen seniors knew how fabulous the place really is, and what a valuable place it is for our seniors, it would be overrun.”

A vibrant community

It’s fitting that in a place as exciting as Aspen, that an assisted living community would offer its residents so much in the way of activities, social engagement, culture and great food. The positive energy permeates through the community, where residents encourage each other to attend art shows, go for walks outside, head to the theater or to any other activity that piques their interests.

“Residents get together daily to enjoy their shared interests, whether it’s through art, puzzles, bridge, Scrabble, movies, walking, music — they’re often creating their own experiences together,” Gerardi said.

With just 15 residents at maximum capacity, it really does create a family atmosphere — staff included. Residents have their private apartments, and they also have the ability to go out as often as they like, participating in the same activities they did before moving in.

“We provide a variety of opportunities for enrichment to encourage residents to remain active,” Gerardi said. “Residents are also able to maintain privacy and independence, continuing to participate in their own activities and programs in the community. We have amazing meals and staff who cares for residents like family. We also acknowledge some residents choose to keep the same routines and independence they had prior to moving in. We treat each resident as an individual.”

Staff member Natalie Ward Trecker said the residents really appreciate living in a place that isn’t full of strangers. They’re able to form lasting friendships, and because so many residents have lived in Aspen for a long time — or they have family here — they can also share their connection to this area with one another.

Gerardi seeks to inform the community of the rare openings at Whitcomb Terrace, where apartments have been recently renovated, and to acknowledge that the cost is more affordable than people might expect.

“We have four apartment styles, ranging from small studios to large one-bedroom units, with rates from $3,500 to $6,000 per month,” she said. “And that price is all-inclusive. It’s one rate for all of the services we provide, including meals, salon services and so much more.” Gerardi encourages potential residents to consider taking advantage of this unusual opportunity while it’s still available.


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