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Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

Finding a Home at Redbrook

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Cynthia Murray spends some evenings on her balcony enjoying the view and tending to her plants.

Seniors look for amenities, services and conveniences

Driving along Flournoy-Lucas Road behind East Ridge Country Club, it has been evident that something was under construction on the grounds of The Glen.

It turns out that all the activity has been to create what the retirement center is calling a life plan community offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care.

They're calling the new construction Redbrook, and it's projected to add over 75 residents to the community eventually. According to early reports, it began accepting residents in October, and the population is growing. The Glen president and CEO, Debra Williams, said, "Redbrook is The Glen's newest option for independent living. Redbrook is for active, older adults who live independently but are seeking more out of life than just living at home."

Moving into assisted living is a significant milestone for seniors. Seniors and their families and friends are affected when the decision arises to encourage someone to move out of their home and into a so-called senior living community.

Amy Bicknell is the daughter of Redbrook resident Liffy Jones. She offered some advice for those facing the prospect of entering a senior community. "If you are looking for a place for a loved one, do your research and visit often. Make sure your parent or loved one gets a good idea of what life would be like at that community. We also met with staff that answered any questions [mother] had."

Cynthia Murray grew up in western New York state and moved to Shreveport with her husband, Robert Murray, when he was named general and artistic director of the Shreveport Opera. She taught piano and had a studio here. They decided to retire here because, she said, Shreveport felt like home. "Shreveport has such a vibrant arts community in which we were very involved. In addition, we had made so many wonderful friends. I never gave a thought to leaving."

Robert died in 2016 from complications of Parkinson's Disease. When she decided to move to Redbrook, she said it was as surprising to her as her friends. She said she had a friend who said she was moving into the new community. "I retorted that I would never leave my home. What would I do all day without my house and garden? I am a Master Gardener. That night I woke up and thought my rationalization was silly, the time was right, and I needed to leave homeowner responsibilities behind right now. The next morning, I visited Redbrook and signed on the dotted line."

Joe McDonald spent his working life in the oil field and industrial piping business. His wife, Jeanette McDonald — no relation to the famous movie icon — was a nursing instructor at Northwestern  State School of Nursing. She brought students to the Glen for practical experience over a period of about 15 years. Her husband said she told him that she was moving into the Glen when she got older.

"I've been retired about 10 years," Joe said. "We were living in The Haven in a 4,100-squarefoot house. We had a bunch of stuff, and we knew that sooner or later somebody was going to have to deal with it. So, we decided we needed to downsize."

They chose the Glen, not just because of Jeanette's experience there, but for several other reasons. First and foremost was the fact that it was a brand-new facility. “We'd be moving into new surroundings and so forth, having your meals prepared for you. Right now, I'm down in a community room while the maid cleans up the room. If something breaks, you don't have to get on the phone and deal with people."

Sharon Simmons also has had some history with the Glen. Her husband, Jimmy, died there three years ago from complications of Alzheimer's. Sharon's a retired nurse who worked at Grace Home for 10 years. "I lived in a big, old home on Pepper Ridge. They [her family]were concerned with me living by myself and wanted me to move closer, down here [to Houston]."

She did, but this Thanksgiving, the call of Shreveport and her friendships here were too great a temptation. "I miss Shreveport. I miss my friends. So, I decided to move back. I had driven by the Glen and saw those apartments being constructed before I moved down here. I happened to drive by during Thanksgiving week and saw they were up. I went in and got one."

Glen CEO Williams said after reviewing their strategic plans for the community, they decided it was time to build for the future.

"We started to discuss what 'building for the future' meant to our community. We tapped into what residents wanted by making them a part of the conversation and by taking into account of what the 'future resident' was looking for in their retirement. After completing the master plan, The Glen broke ground in January of 2020. After the hardships of the past two years with the pandemic and a series of unfortunate weather, we were pleased to welcome our first resident in late October 2021."

The Glen has added new staff for Redbrook, including a resident engagement coordinator and a fitness coordinator, who plan events, outings and coordinate the continuing education program. The fitness center coordinator works with each of the residents. The menu of offerings for residents includes water aerobics classes, chair yoga and other classes to spark interest from various fitness levels.

Redbrook houses 60 residences, including five different floor plans ranging from 727 to 1,140 square feet.

Features include:

• Granite countertops.

• Crown molding throughout.

• Stainless steel appliances.

• Walk-in showers.

• Walk-in closets.

• 9-foot ceilings.

• Wall safes.

• In-wall medicine cabinets.

• Washers and dryers in units.

• Private balconies or patios. New amenities promoted in the building include a wellness center with an indoor, heated pool with locker rooms, a strength training room with state-of-the-art equipment using "HUR SmartTouch Technology," and a spa and salon. Other additions are covered parking, climate-controlled resident storage, spacious grounds with multiple walking paths, two different dining options and bocce courts.

"The fact that everything is brand new and up to date was a big draw for me," Cynthia Murray said. "It has been fun being one of the first few residents. We have all bonded and even have formed a breakfast club. The staff here is outstanding, and our every request is quickly met. I love my new home, the freedom, the safety, all the amenities and making new friends."

Williams, too, is pleased with the reactions so far. "It has been rewarding to observe them over breakfast in one of the dining venues gathered together. They often push tables close so they can visit with each other. Many of the residents did not know each other prior to living at Redbrook. They have formed a bond and continue welcoming in new residents."

Bicknell said, "When I heard about the new wellness amenities they were adding, I thought it was a perfect fit for mother. She enjoys exercising and stays active. I also wanted her to be able to meet people and reconnect with others. Now that she has been at Redbrook since November, she is truly enjoying the people and all of the community benefits! They go on outings around town, and she loves the food."

"I just felt comfortable there," Simmons explained. "I knew that when Jimmy was in the Cottages, what great care he had. Great food. It just felt like the place I should go to. Then when I found out that it's like 60 units instead of a thousand, that made a big difference."

McDonald said their decision was easy. "The upkeep of the house, the yard, having to deal with service people, the expenses, everything going up. We decided to simplify our lives and get rid of a lot of stress and come over here and have a more relaxed setting."

And unlike many retirement facility horror stories, Simmons had nothing but praise for her new living arrangements. "I love my place, I love my church, I love the doctors I have there. I'm looking forward to it."

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