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Senior Living: Home Sweet Home
How local senior living facilities are expanding
their options, meals and amenities


June 2018

When I was in fourth grade, my grandmother moved into what was then called an “old folks home.” We’d go visit her once a week or so. My brothers and I loved it. It had a pool table in the basement; what more could you want?  The answer, of course, is a lot. The food wasn’t great, the room was uninviting and she didn’t even play pool. If I remember, the only activity she took part in was a knitting group. I don’t think she was ever really happy there, but at the time there were not a lot of choices.

Today, the choices are aplenty. And senior living facilities are aware of this and offer more and better options to their residents in order to offer better care and remain competitive.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the lives of the seniors living in our communities,” says Doug Anderson of New Perspective Senior Living. “We’ve added great amenities like pools and fitness centers, and recently added a full-time wellness director in our Brown Deer location.  We’re now offering customized wellness programs for all residents at no additional charge.”

Catering to individual likes and needs is one of the key factors for a successful senior living facility today. At HarborChase of Shorewood, Valerie Beyer says that as part of their move-in process they ask each resident to fill out a silhouette. “This is going to show all areas of each resident’s likes, dislikes and life history. We are going to use this information to create a ‘Best Day’ for that resident. This information is also used to create our monthly calendar of events for our residents. For example, if a resident said they used to go to the Milwaukee Symphony, we will set up a date to go to the symphony and continually have this on our calendar. This way we know this resident will see something on the calendar they used to enjoy and it will be available for them to attend.”

Therese Goode of the Milwaukee Catholic Home says that in the past 10 years they have put increasing emphasis on making sure their residents have the freedom and flexibility to create the lives they choose. “Our residents are individuals with individual needs, and we strive to flexibly meet those needs,” she says. “For this reason, every aspect of our services has the potential for personalization, from food to health care to transportation to personal fitness. The main thing is to focus on the individual. People’s needs are different, and a retirement community can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach.”

At my grandmother’s senior residence the food service was a grim affair. The options were limited and meal times were rigid. I remember having to plan our visits around her meal times. Now residents have numerous options for what to eat and when to eat it. At the Milwaukee Catholic Home, part of their recent renovation included adding production kitchens on every floor and each kitchen is staffed with a trained chef.  At Saint John’s on the Lake, located on Prospect Avenue in Milwaukee, menus change seasonally with resident favorites appearing regularly and they can dine ŕ la carte at Taylor’s Restaurant or in the Bistro.  And the Lutheran Home & Harwood Place in Wauwatosa has opened a pub where residents can have a meal, a cup of coffee or a pint of beer.

No more sanitized décor either. Residents are now being offered the chance to decorate their homes to fit their tastes. Carey Bartlett at the Lutheran Home & Harwood Place says the personalization begins before residents move in. “We want it to feel like home, so we ask them to choose the paint, flooring, counters and more.”

To attract new residents even before they are ready to commit, many facilities are offering services outside of their own walls in an effort to capture potential clients while they are still living in their own homes. Saint John’s on the Lake, for example, offers prospective residents the Shore Holder’s Club program. Working a bit like a waiting list, there is a refundable deposit and members then can reserve a spot in line for one of several apartment styles. “They also get to enjoy our amenities,” says Lucy Klebar of Saint John’s on the Lake.  They have use of the fitness center, swimming pool, woodworking shop; they can come to movies and lectures and eat at residents’ rates. They also get a free birthday dinner for two. It’s a great way to try us on before they make this big decision in their lives.”


Bryant Homes

Bryant Homes is dedicated to providing residents with supervision and safety while living in the community. Homes are located in neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee’s southeast and southwest side. Residents enjoy home-cooked meals and a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Bryant Homes is family-focused and strives to meet each resident’s individual needs. The staff exhibits competence and compassion to a variety of different clientele. Each home has its own personality, serving a variety of populations from the frail elderly to the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill. Bryant Homes is dedicated to providing healthy choices for members of their communities. Services include 24/7 nursing oversight and 24-hour awake staff. Transportation is provided to and from all medical appointments, and an escort is always available. A wide variety of outside and evening programming is offered based on individual preference.

 Lutheran Home & Harwood Place

Enjoy retirement by pursuing the comfortable and convenient lifestyle of Harwood Place. Take advantage of an abundance of on-site amenities and a robust activities calendar. There is never a dull day with fitness classes, outings, religious services, in-house entertainment, shopping trips and more. Transportation, wellness programming, in-house clinic hours and restaurant-style dining are all provided. Should residents need additional services, Lutheran Home is a 5-star facility that provides short-term rehab, skilled nursing, memory care assisted living and adult day services.

Laureate Group Senior Communities

Laureate Group is one of the largest providers of senior housing in southeastern Wisconsin, offering independent living, assisted living and memory care services. Laureate Group is a local, family-owned provider and operates eight communities throughout the greater Milwaukee area. Having a solid foundation consisting of nearly 50 years of industry experience, clinical expertise, longtime staff and a philosophy of engaging older adults, Laureate Group has earned the trust of multiple generations of seniors.

New Perspective

New Perspective Senior Living offers great amenities like pools and activity rooms. And the food is delicious. But the senior living facility prides itself on standing alone to help seniors live happier, vibrant lives. Their engagement program is built on a platform offering 3000+ activities. Wellness programs are designed to keep people healthy and active.

Saint John’s on the Lake

Live life the way you like at Saint John’s on the Lake. All residents enjoy the benefits of a unique LifeStreams Wellness Program and have access to all the campus amenities, including two restaurants, warm water pool, fitness center, salon and spa, top shelf library, media center, art galleries and more. Events, including performances, wellness initiatives, lectures, work-shops and personal training, offer a dynamic approach to wellness in a holistic environment. Saint John’s on the Lake is celebrating 150 years of serving older adults in the greater Milwaukee community.


This story ran in the June 2018 issue of: