Courtyard: An Opportunity For The Ages

Courtyard at Mt Tabor’s front sign, facing Division Street. The elderly living facility is just a short five block walk from Franklin High School. Photo by Maya Horten.

Five blocks east of the Franklin High School campus lies another community. While it serves a different audience, Courtyard at Mt Tabor is similar to Franklin in that it strives to be a leading example in their field. Established over 20 years ago, Courtyard is an elderly living facility that has built a strong reputation for exceeding standards of care for our seniors. In both 2015 and 2016, it received the Caring Stars award: a nation-wide honor given to the most acclaimed living facilities.

Courtyard provides many levels of care including independent living and assisted living, as well as a memory care unit. The residents’ level of care depends on their physical and cognitive abilities, which also help determine where they reside. Despite serving people with a wide variance in need and support, Courtyard strives to enrich all lives with daily events and activities.

“Intergenerational contact is one of the best things for seniors. It brings in whole new life.”
–Rachel Strivers

One of the most engaging aspects of living at Courtyard is its Vibrant Life program. It offers upwards of 15-20 senior activities both on the campus and outside of it. Independent living resident, former editor of the Franklin yearbook, and proud graduate of Franklin High School class of 1941, BettyLu Anderson, shared that one of her favorite parts of living at Courtyard is the abundance of programs offered to the residents. These range from Bingo, music performances, and exercise classes to off-campus activities like dinners out, trips to the grocery store, and occasional day trips to the beach. Rachel Strivers, the Vibrant Life Director, describes her job as a way to “bring meaning and purpose to everyones’ lives [at Courtyard],” as well as to, “create positive milestones at this end-of-life stage.” She explains that at this point in many of the residents’ lives, they are experiencing tremendous loss. Whether this involves losing driving abilities, losing a spouse, or missing the ability to make safe decisions for themselves, loss and occasional loneliness are unfortunately prevalent issues in many retirement homes. Incorporating these exciting and diverse activities is incredibly beneficial to the experience the residents have as they continue to age, but something is still missing.

With an elementary school, high school, and retirement home within a few blocks of each other, there lies an extraordinary opportunity to bridge this generational gap. “Intergenerational contact is one of the best things for seniors,” stated Strivers. “It brings in whole new life.” When asked what she thought about hosting activities with students, assisted living resident Cheryl Young promptly responded, “I think it would be fun.” Young added how beneficial she believed spending time with older people would be for students, whether that be witnessing old age for the first time, gaining general knowledge, or learning about these peoples’ lives. It is important to recognize older generations simply as people who happen to be older, and begin to break down negative stigmas and social barriers associated with aging. As BettyLu made sure to articulate, “Don’t be afraid to talk to [older people] because they’ll talk back… usually… if they can hear.”

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