Living Better in Retirement
Acts Retirement-Life Communities goes above and beyond to exceed resident expectations
by Leigh Stuart

Doug and Marilyn Howard had abundant choices when it came to the location in which they would spend their senior years. But, when it came to decision time in 2015, there was one clear standout: Acts Retirement-Life Communities.

The Howards, who now live in Acts’ Granite Farms Estates community, say a number of factors swayed them toward Acts, not the least of which was the company’s staff going “above and beyond” to meet their expectations.

In addition to its reputation for delivering an outstanding active retirement lifestyle experience and the security and convenience of on-site health care services, Granite Farms offered spacious living quarters, an intimate community of approximately 250 residences and a bevy of activities. For these reasons, and more, the Howards decided to downsize from their 2-acre property in favor of a residence at Granite Farms.

“We had looked at similar communities in a 50-mile radius for seven, eight years,” Doug notes. “We had deposit money to get on all the waiting lists from 2007. Then we visited Granite Farms.”

Once the Howards learned of an available residence—a renovated apartment that combined two previously single residences—they were sold. Today, they enjoy a home with 1,200 square feet of living space, two bathrooms and a slew of features to suit their own lifestyle needs, such as quartz countertops in a color they chose, a shower stall unit versus a bathtub and an in-unit washer and dryer located conveniently in their master bathroom.

On top of that, the Granite Farms campus features a stunning nature preserve, which is home to a variety of local species of flora and fauna for residents to observe and enjoy. Ridley Creek State Park is just one of many natural oases located a stone’s throw from the Granite Farms campus.

“Retirement is a very important financial decision for prospective residents, and Acts is dedicated to ensuring its already beautiful campuses go above and beyond existing and incoming resident expectations,” notes Brian Donathan, communications manager for Acts Retirement-Life Communities.

Another factor putting residents’ minds at ease is accreditation. The Acts communities are accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International, an independent accrediting body monitoring businesses within the realm of health and human services.

“Accreditation offers the public a standard of comparison for evaluating retirement communities in important areas such as administration, resident services and fiscal responsibility,” says Michael Smith, corporate director of communications. “These are all very important areas and being accredited demonstrates to a resident that a community is adhering to the highest level of services, programs and financial stability.”

Staff too was a deciding factor when the Howards decided where to hang their hats in their golden years.

“Loving kindness is a foundation for us,” says Megan Longley, vice president of sales for Acts. “We hire people who have those core values and have a very natural affinity and passion for older adults.”

“Everybody speaks in the hallways, everybody’s friendly,” Marilyn says. “The staff is outstanding. Our executive director, Elmer Heiland, meets regularly with us about all the enhancements being added to the community.”

Heiland explains that among the $120 million in renovations happening across Acts’ campuses are improvements to Granite Farms including, but not limited to, a new lobby café, which opened in 2015; a new swimming pool and fitness center, opened in 2016; The Preserve, featuring large living spaces overlooking the nature preserve, to be opened in early 2017; and a modern-style assisted living residence offering larger living spaces and more privacy.

This construction is possible because of Acts’ financial stability, which can be seen not only at Granite Farms but also across Acts’ 21 communities throughout the eastern seaboard. Some of the new construction is based off of feedback from residents, while still more is underway for the overall health of each community.

“We have a variety of projects currently in progress and in predevelopment,” explains Smith. “As a not-for-profit, we reinvest millions back into our communities each year in the form of various community enhancements and upgrades to provide the best possible lifestyle for our residents.”

The Acts team knows the decision to move to a retirement community is one of the most important a person will make in his or her life.

“People reach out to senior living retirement communities like Acts for a couple of reasons,” Longley says. “For example, if their health changes in the future, they’re established in a place that protects their assets and hopefully allows some legacy for their families. It gives great security knowing there is on-site health care support in place.”

Longley notes that many seniors and family members consider the social aspects a retirement community can provide as well.

“Seniors can get more isolated in their house as they get older,” she notes. “I think a lot of them realize they want to be around people. In many ways, retirement living is like college for older people. It’s an opportunity to grow again, to make new groups of friends again. There are so many things for them to have at their fingertips, versus staying at home, being isolated. I think as we get older, we go through a lot of passages. Our health may change, a spouse’s health may change, and I think having this kind of community is a comfort to families to know their parents are surrounded by loving kindness.”

This theme of “loving kindness” is at the heart of all Acts does.

“The Acts loving-kindness philosophy is something that was adopted by the community many years ago, and really looks at considering each resident individually—what kind of lifestyle they want, not painting a picture that everyone has to fit into,” says Heiland. “We provide retirement the way they want retirement.”

Longley explains that Acts’ senior leadership goes out to speak with residents often, taking time to meet with local resident boards of representatives. From programming to budget, from activities to campus improvements, each community’s board of representatives has a direct line to Acts leadership to share input.

Presently, the Howards are fully integrated into life at Granite Farms, participating in activities including tai chi, water aerobics in the community’s brand new pool and strength exercises in the newly minted fitness center.

If such success and growth continue to carry forward—and all signs indicate this to be the case—then sooner rather than later, the Howards are sure to have a host of new neighbors at Granite Farms with whom to enjoy their retirement years.

Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Photograph by Nick Kelsh