Acts Retirement-Life Communities
Celebrating 50 years of the best life has to offer.
by Staff

In 1971, a Pennsylvania pastor and a few of his forward-thinking congregants pondered the question of how to provide a better lifestyle for retired church members. Their discussions yielded a vision of a retirement community unlike any they had ever seen: one that promised a better quality of life, including skilled health care in case it was ever needed.  
Because very few retirement communities like this existed where they lived, these pioneers took a giant leap of faith and decided to build it themselves. Open Door Estates (later Fort Washington Estates) began welcoming its first residents in 1972, launching what was to become Acts Retirement-Life Communities. 
“It’s amazing these individuals, with no background in health care or retirement living, created a model community that is still considered the gold standard,” says Gerald T. Grant, CEO of Acts. “I believe the key to their success is they were thinking first and foremost about the needs of the seniors they wanted to serve and provide an exceptional living experience.”
Over the last five decades, Acts has remained true to this core principle. 
“As a faith-based organization, founded on Christian principles, that approach is just part of who we are,” adds Grant. “In fact, many of our employees have been a part of this ‘culture of service’ for a very long time.”
Grant, who has spent 33 years at Acts in a variety of capacities, leads an executive team with a combined total of 463 years of service as Acts employees, an average of 23 years each. All those years of experience, by such a dedicated team pursuing the same goal with the same level of devotion, combine to yield an uncommon result.
“There is a unique spirit that exists in our communities,” says Grant. “The residents feel it, the staff feel it, and visitors here tell us they feel it as well.”
A Continuing Commitment to New Ideas
Since the development of that first community 50 years ago, Acts has continued to be both a leader and an innovator in the senior living field. Along with developing additional communities, the company introduced Acts Life Care®, which allows residents to pay for tomorrow’s healthcare needs with today’s dollars. 

“Our founders were too humble to think of themselves as visionaries, but that’s exactly what they were,” says Karen I. Christiansen, President of Acts. “And that spirit is still very much alive at Acts. A perfect example is Acts Life Care. In essence, we provide an active lifestyle with a healthcare safety net for our residents and structure it in such a way that it also makes great financial sense.”
The Acts Life Care plan provides prepayment for potential care and fees that are tax deductible for those who qualify to itemize their deductions. Additionally, the monthly fee does not increase solely as the result of moving from independent living to a higher level of care (assisted living or skilled nursing). This groundbreaking program created 50 years ago has benefited thousands of Acts residents in the intervening years, providing great security and peace of mind.
“We know how hard our residents have worked to create their nest egg,” adds Christiansen, “and Acts Life Care is another way we can help them protect it with monthly fees that are comprehensive and predictable.” 
Building on a Dream
Since Fort Washington Estates opened in 1972, Acts has grown to include 26 communities in nine states, many of them built from the ground up to ensure they meet the highest standards of comfort, style, and active lifestyle amenities for which Acts has become known.
Each Acts community also undergoes regular upgrades and renovations to keep pace with the needs and desires of its residents.
“As we move into our sixth decade, we are keenly aware of the high standard that has been set by each of our communities,” says Grant. “That’s why we are always investing in capital improvements and expansions. We want everyone who walks into one of our properties for the first time to be ‘wowed’ by the experience.”
Al Gaboriault can relate. After looking at 14 different communities, he visited the Acts campus in Media, Pennsylvania: Granite Farms Estates.
“When you drive into the community and walk into the lobby, it looks like a five-star hotel,” says Gaboriault. “It blows your mind how beautiful it is.”
Gaboriault moved to Granite Farms Estates with only one regret: “If I had known what I know now, I would have moved here 20 years ago. This is the best-kept secret in the world.”
Today, as Acts celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator, and developer of continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) in the United States. 
“Our size is merely a reflection of how emphatically Acts residents have embraced the lifestyle we offer,” says Grant. “That we have been able to maintain the standards of quality and excellence first demonstrated at Fort Washington Estates is a testament to each and every one of our dedicated Acts employees.
“There are many reasons to choose Acts,” he continues, “but the one our residents value the most and the one that sets us apart most strongly is the spirit of Loving-Kindness that inspires all we do.”
“Fifty years is a significant milestone,” adds Christiansen. “But the truest measure of our success is told in the happiness, contentment, and fellowship experienced by thousands of residents who have called Acts communities ‘home.’”  
For more information on Acts Retirement-Life Communities, visit
Photograph courtesy of Acts Retirement-Life Communities
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, May 2022.