Forever Young Week at True Connection Communities

Forever Young Week at True Connection Communities

At True Connection Communities, our residents love sharing their personal stories, especially when it comes to the loves of their lives! And though present times may be challenging, love is something we can all get behind.

We recently celebrated “Forever Young” week at our communities and gave our resident couples the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in intimate, socially distanced ceremonies. Some joined in and others preferred to share photos, sentiments, and advice.

Arbour Square of Harleysville | Pennsylvania

Rose and Bill Santulli

Rose and Bill Santulli met in the seventh grade in Brooklyn, New York, but they were not allowed to date until they both turned 18 years old. Though it was hard for them to patiently wait all those years, it was worth it. As soon as the magic birthday hit for both, their courtship began, and it was full steam ahead for the blissful couple.

On May 19, 1956, at 22 years old, Rose and Bill married in their hometown. In 1979, the pair moved to Pennsylvania and, there, raised their six children. Those six children have given the Santullis the gift of 34 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

The Santullis celebrated their 64 years of marriage by renewing their wedding vows at Arbour Square of Harleysville—the community they’ve called home for almost six years.

Five other couples at Arbour Square joined the Santullis in renewing their marriage vows in a socially distanced ceremony outside. With each couple exchanging personal tributes and words of endearment, it was impossible to ignore all the love floating in the air that day from these lovely couples whose courtships have spanned decades—and lifetimes.


Verena at Gilbert | Arizona

Hazel and Charles Tobias

Hazel and Charles met on a blind dinner date at the home of Alicia, Hazel’s best girlfriend, and Rick, Charles’s shipmate on the USS Pintado SSN (672). Alicia should have known better than to set Hazel up with Charles–Hazel was adamant about not dating sailors, even when she and Alicia lived in the Navy town of San Diego, California. But, after meeting and getting to know Charles during her many visits to see Rick, Alicia thought Charles was as nice and polite as they come, and that’s why Hazel agreed to the date.

At first, Hazel let her preconceived notions of sailors having bad reputations shape her first impression of Charles, which was not good. She told Charles that night that they would never be anything but friends. Charles was unconvinced, and his charming and outgoing personality helped him win her over. The pair quickly became best friends and then began falling in love, sharing their dreams and desires for the future.

Hazel and Charles married on July 26, 1975, less than a year since the night they met. Happily married for 45 years, the couple has two sons and two grandchildren.


Pine Ridge Villas of Shelby | Michigan

Ronald and Esther Thelander

Esther, who was from California, was visiting her sister in Michigan when Esther’s family brought Ron over for Esther to meet. They then went to a Halloween Party with Esther’s niece and nephew who quickly fell in love with Ron. Esther followed suit—the kids loved him, so she figured he must be worth it! They were married on November 18, 1966 and thought it would be fun to participate in a vow renewal ceremony all these years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard and Helen Gastaldo

Richard was only 15 years old when he met Helen through her cousin. They started dating when they were both 18 years old and working together at Fanny Farmer in downtown Detroit. Helen was a Bonbon Dipper, and Richard was the Head of the Caramel Department. It must have been the perfect match because they were married on September 8, 1951. The couple continues to make each other laugh as often as possible and are always spotted holding hands. Richard was thrilled at the chance to renew his vows with Helen because he would choose her again, and again, and again.


Verena at Bedford Falls | North Carolina

The ladies at Verena at Bedford Falls celebrated being “forever young” by sharing wedding photos that spanned decades and throwing a socially distanced bachelorette party, which was the first bachelorette party they had ever been to! Wearing pajamas, the ladies enjoyed champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, and they each completed a beautiful painting with help from a painting instructor via Zoom. They also shared some advice for newlyweds (see the recurring themes?):

  • “Don’t go to bed mad at each other. And kiss and hug at bedtime and/or morning, if possible.”
  • “Never go to bed angry.”
  • “On special occasions, my husband always brought me a gift.”
  • “Celebrate the special occasions.”

Marsha and Earl Rose were married on June 18, 1961. The Roses’ advice to newlyweds is, first and foremost, take it day by day. And remember that compromise and forgiveness is important for a successful marriage.


Verena at the Reserve | Virginia

Residents at the Verena at the Reserve also displayed their wedding photos for the community to see. Team members at the Reserve joined in on the fun and brought their actual wedding dresses, which were hung on display. The week was special to so many at the community and brightened up their days. Many ventured down to the display area several times to take a look at the pictures and memorabilia.


At True Connection Communities, our residents discover the freedom to connect more closely with family and friends, engage in exciting new adventures, and are inspired to explore a whole new way of life. To learn more, visit www.TrueConnectionCommunities.com.

For a Taste of Gourmet, Head to Verena at Gilbert

Meet the Culinary Director at Verena at Gilbert

Chef Stephan Germanaud is the Culinary Director at Verena at Gilbert, a modern Independent Living Community in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, ideally located right off the 202 San Tan and Val Vista Road.

Chef Stephan Germanaud Verena at Gilbert
Chef Stephan Germanaud, Culinary Director at Verena at Gilbert

Chef Stephan’s culinary journey began in Bourdeaux, France, where he grew up spending a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother, who, he says, was a fantastic cook. “My grandmother had a profound effect on my life, giving me the love of food and inspiring me to learn how to cook, and cook well,” he says.

At only 13 years old, Chef Stephan continued his journey in culinary school, acquiring culinary and management degrees over a period of five years, including a degree in French Culinary Art from the esteemed Lycee de L’Hotellerie et du Tourisme De Gascone in Talence, France. He describes the hands-on training as tough but the reason he has become the accomplished chef he is today.

At 20 years old, the aspiring chef made a life-changing move from France to Phoenix, Arizona, and began building an impressive resume, from cook to sous chef at The Phoenician luxury resort and progressing to Executive Chef and Executive Banquet Chef positions at other high-end properties, including Boulders Resort & Spa and the historic Wrigley Mansion. He also catered notable events, including the Mayor’s luncheon with President Barack Obama and the NFL Hall of Fame 2016.

Elevating Food in Senior Living

In 2017, Chef Stephan was inspired to join the senior living industry to elevate the perception of what food should be in a retirement community. “I believe that the senior living industry is becoming more about a lifestyle rather than a need, and food is a very big part of what drives the decision to move into and stay at a community,” he says. “I want to show our residents, and future residents, that seniors deserve fresh and tasty food, as we all do. I want to be part of their culinary experience.”

Verena at Gilbert culinary creations

Chef Stephan says that making residents smile while having fun doing what he loves is one of the best parts about being at Verena at Gilbert. He’s often inspired by Verena residents, stating, “I have had residents pass me their recipes, and this gives me ideas of dishes to make according to what they like.” He also is passionate about using the freshest ingredients and keeping up with trends to continue delighting the recipients of his meals. “But, listening,” he says. “Listening to residents about what they want—now that is my number one priority.”

Times may have changed since Chef Stephan stepped into the Verena kitchen, but his attention to detail and dedication to making exquisite dishes from scratch has not wavered. He continues to create beautifully plated, delicious food, even if the “plate” happens to be a meal container delivered to a resident’s door.

Receive a Meal from Verena at Gilbert

Are you interested in receiving a Chef Stephan meal delivered to your home? Call us at 480-899-8200 to arrange for your personal delivery.


At Verena at Gilbert, an Independent Living Community in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, retire in style with retail shops, restaurants, and hiking trails all within reach, and enjoy easy access to Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Phoenix! Connect with new friends, engage in new adventures, and enjoy exquisite meals prepared by an experienced and creative culinary team driven by a passion for food.

Check out Verena at Gilbert on Facebook.

Verena at Bedford Falls strawberry shortcake

Meet Chef Eric at Verena at Bedford Falls

If you smell something good coming from Dunn Road in Raleigh, North Carolina, chances are Chef Eric Wicker is cooking up something delicious for the residents of Verena at Bedford Falls, an Independent Living Community situated in a quiet neighborhood. Wicker has been the Culinary Director of Verena at Bedford Falls since February 2020, shortly after the community opened.

With more than 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry at various venues, Wicker landed at Verena at Bedford Falls to continue his passion for making people happy through food. His hands-on, supportive leadership has inspired the Verena culinary team to deliver a meal experience to residents that has quickly become well regarded. From sweet potato pie to an elegant plate of pork schnitzel with tarragon-lemon butter sauce, the meals represent the diverse tastes of Verena residents and have become one of the most important aspects of living at the community.

Love What You’re Doing

“The secret (which shouldn’t be a secret if you love what you are doing) is to let the residents tell me what they want,” says Wicker. “By cooking and preparing most of the menu options from scratch, I can make sure our residents, and especially those residents with dietary restrictions, are happy with the menu choices, and that is really important to me as a chef.”

Verena resident Patricia Foster is a big fan of Chef Eric and appreciates his originality. “Best food ever here! Most variety and he fixes things I wouldn’t think to eat, and it’s wonderful and I eat every bite of it!” she says with enthusiasm.

Wicker’s favorite protein to work with is seafood, especially fresh seafood locally sourced from the Carolinas. It fuels his creativity when developing menus and preparing new dishes, he explains. But, ask him to eat seafood, and he’ll more than likely turn you down. “My favorite food to eat will always and forever be homemade lasagna,” he says.

Inspiration in the Kitchen

Wicker takes inspiration from his three kids to provide Verena residents with a culinary experience built on love. His youngest daughter, at ten years old, is already making cakes and cookies from scratch and often critiques her father at dinner time, helping Wicker push boundaries in the Verena kitchen. These days, meals at Verena at Bedford Falls are delivered to residents’ apartments, but they arrive as beautifully put together as they had been in the kitchen. Wicker wouldn’t have it any other way—his passion goes beyond the food itself; he wants each and every resident to know he is there for them and to feel comfort in every bite they take.


At Verena at Bedford Falls, an Independent Living Community in Raleigh, North Carolina, retirement is a time for less worry and more fun. Live a full and healthy life surrounded by serene woods and modern conveniences. Connect with new friends, engage in new adventures, and enjoy exquisite meals prepared by an experienced and creative culinary team driven by a passion for food. Schedule your tour today!

Check out Verena at Bedford Falls on Facebook.

Lessons from Centenarians: A How-To for Longevity and Health

Living to 100 isn’t all that rare anymore. In fact, the number of U.S. centenarians has grown 65 percent since 1980 with more than 53,000 centenarians living in the United States according to the 2010 census (330 of those have reached super centenarian status of 110 or older). Is there a secret to living a long and healthy life? Here’s what centenarians have to say.

Life Lessons from Centenarians

United Healthcare’s 100@100 survey found these common themes.

  1. All About Outlook – Approximately 61 percent of centenarians view themselves as being positive with a full quarter believing that a positive attitude is a key to staying healthy.
  2. Move It or Lose It – Nearly half of centenarians interviewed say they walk or hike at least once a week. Of those, about a third exercises to strengthen muscles or for stress relief. Cardiovascular exercise indoors and gardening to keep active are also popular.
  3. All You Have to Do Is Smile – Laughing and having a sense of humor is also important with 84 percent of centenarians saying that doing this is easy for them.
  4. Age is Just a Number – Approximately 60 percent of centenarians say they don’t feel old and the rest said they didn’t start to feel that way until they were in their 80s.
  5. Appreciate Your Youth – On average, centenarians felt most attractive at age 31, most energetic at 34, happiest at 44, healthiest at 46 and wisest at 49. However, they felt most content overall at age 56.

Blue Zones Back it Up

You may have heard about the Blue Zones or places around the world where people live longer, specifically into their 100s. Blue Zones locations are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okanawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California, United States
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Nicoya, Coast Rica

Based on research in these places, some common characteristics for longevity have been found which are very similar to the ones listed above including exercise, stress relief and family. Additional lessons from centenarians in Blue Zones include:

  1. Know Your Purpose – Having clear values, passions and talents can add seven years to your life.
  2. The 80% Rule – This rule suggests you cut 20 percent of your calories with evidence based practices such as eating a big breakfast, eating with your family, using 10 inch plates and stoping when you feel 80% full.
  3. Love Your Plants – Eating a diet that’s heavy on beans, nuts and green plants are common among these centenarians.
  4. Have a Drink – This research has found that moderate drinkers (two to three drinks per day only) outlive non-drinkers.
  5. Have Faith – Attending faith-based services four times per month can add four to 14 years to your life.
  6. Find Community – Make sure you have a social circle that includes healthy-minded and supportive people to increase longevity.

Speaking of Community

There’s no easier place to practice these life lessons than in an active senior living community. They support this aging research too and are focused around keeping residents as active, independent and socially connected as possible. You’ll find monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings along with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services. It’s this convenient and carefree lifestyle that has more and more people moving to active senior living while they are completely healthy!

For more information on how you can benefit from these lessons on longevity and health in active senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Life Over 55: How Living with Less Can Give You More

If you’re over 55 you may feel that downsizing is being pushed upon you at every turn. But, truth be told, it’s not the most desirable concept for most of us initially. We have worked hard for all that we’ve acquired in life, from our home to our stuff to our lifestyle in general. Why would we want to let that go? The answer requires a shift in mindset. While downsizing technically means to reduce in size it’s really more about creating the physical and mental space to enjoy what’s most important. And retirement is the perfect time to make that shift. Here’s how.

Everybody’s Doing It

We know the adage, ‘Just because your friend jumps doesn’t mean you have to.’ But when 40 percent of Americans aged 50 to 64 plan to move within the next five years according to the Demand Institute, there may just be something to the downsizing concept. What’s more, a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that retirees who downsized are happier than those who stay put.

Why Less is More

Let’s dig in to why you might be happier with less. There’s actually some science behind it. Psychology Today* lists these benefits:

  • A sense of confidence and self-efficacy – It gives you the opportunity to put your problem-solving and decision-making skills to good use and success is clear to see.
  • More energy – When you’re in that ‘getting things done’ mode it energizes you and can make it easier to keep going with other to-dos.
  • Reduced anxiety – Its human nature to crave order and symmetry, and too much stuff can throw off that balance; getting rid of excess can restore a greater sense of calm.
  • Reduced tension at home – If you’re always losing things or you just can’t stand the mess, decluttering can actually help improve relationships between family members.
  • Finding lost treasures – When you have too much sometimes things that were truly special to you are forgotten; uncovering them again can be a wonderful surprise!

Downsizing Tips

  1. Step One: Take inventory of what you have by making a list of categories: bedding, dishes, electronics, etc. You can be as detailed (or not) as you like, but prepare to be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated! How many sheet sets do you really need?
  2. Step Two: Designate a downsizing zone to sort your items. This could be in the garage, the dining room you never use or wherever you have some room to spread out.
  3. Step Three: Take it slow and focus on one category or room of the house at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed. It’s also helpful to set a timetable of when you want the process finished to keep from procrastinating. And, once you start a downsizing task, set a timer to keep you focused. It’s easy to get lost reminiscing!
  4. Step Four: Start sorting into piles such as Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle or Gift. To help decide, ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the last six months. Clothing is always a particular challenge, but by turning all your hangers backwards until an item is worn, you can get an idea of what you actually wear. For keepsakes it’s sometimes easier on the heart to gift to family or friends. You can also take photos of special items, like children’s artwork, to save space but preserve the memories.
  5. Step Five: Invite friends and family over. Downsizing is more manageable, and more fun, with the people you love by your side to help and reminisce.

Over 55 Communities are a Great Move

Why stop with downsizing your stuff?  You may be surprised to learn that over 55 communities are becoming an increasingly popular choice for retirees. Because of the active, convenient and carefree lifestyle they offer, these communities are ideal places to create that mental space we talked about above.

The benefits of over 55 communities include:

  • More freedom – Without the stress of home responsibilities weighing on you – mortgage, home insurance, property taxes, repair bills – you can finally enjoying the life you deserve.
  • More time – With housekeeping, meals, and other daily chores typically taken care of, you can trade your have to-do list for a want to-do list.
  • More opportunity – It’s easy to stay connected with a range of social opportunities, educational and enrichment programs as well as organized activities and outings to enjoy.
  • More amenities – With the resort-like amenities many communities offer, you can feel like you’re on vacation without ever leaving home.
  • >Better location – Over 55 communities are often located in the center of it all, making life much more convenient.

For more information on how you can get more in an over 55 community, contact us today to schedule a visit →

How to Make the Most of Retirement in Luxury Senior Living

Time is precious no matter your age, but in retirement, it seems even more so. For one, you’ve worked so hard to reach the point where you can retire that you deserve to make the most of every minute. The question is, how exactly do you find the time to do everything you want to do? There are only so many hours in a day! And if you still have responsibilities such as a house your time is even more limited. Quite simply, making the most of your retirement is all about finding balance. Here’s how you can do just that.

Free Up Some Time

One of the easiest ways to make sure you have enough time to do the things you love is to remove unwanted to-dos from your plate. If you own a home there’s maintenance, yard work and any number of unexpected repairs that may come up. Even if you’re renting there’s still housekeeping, laundry, cooking and the chores could go on.

You could always hire someone to help with each of these items. Even if it’s in the budget to do that you’d still have to manage everyone who provides these services for you which takes time in and of itself. An alternative is luxury senior living which typically includes all these chores in one predictable monthly fee. Done!

Live It Up

Now that you’ve freed up your schedule it’s the perfect time to just enjoy yourself. Spend more time with friends and family, make new friends, get out and about to restaurants, shopping and attend performances or go on fun outings. But will this be as easy as you’d like it to be or are there challenges with transportation, availability of family and friends or access to these options in your area?
Maybe you’d also like to indulge a little in the finer things like luxury accommodations, spa treatments, pool time or concierge service. If this is available in your neighborhood already can we visit? Luxury senior living offers this too as these communities often closely resemble resorts with sprawling campuses, a host of amenities and plenty of social opportunities.

Find Your Niche

Aside from some much deserved pampering; you’re likely interested in finding renewed purpose. If you’re like most people work has been such a big part of who you are for so long, you may feel a little lost. Finding your niche can help you overcome that. Plus, numerous studies have shown that having purpose in retirement not only offers physical and mental health benefits, it may also help reduce your risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. To start, simply think about things you enjoy, hobbies, causes important to you, fitness goals and so on. Or, perhaps you’re interested in trying something completely new altogether.

Luxury senior living can help here too. Most communities have a dedicated program director and monthly calendars filled to the brim with activities, classes and volunteer opportunities for just about any interest. And it’s right outside your door!

At the end of the day, finding the balance that can help you make the most of retirement comes down to convenience. Having access to conveniences that free your time, help you live bigger and better and help you find purpose. You could certainly make this work on your own, or let us take care of it so you can have the time of your life in luxury senior living!

For more information on luxury senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →