Riderwood's Focus on Community Resonates with Residents

Residents Happy To Be Riderwood During Pandemic

Silver Spring, MD -- Linda Wanner and her husband Raymond moved to Riderwood, an Erickson Living developed and managed senior living community, a little over two years ago. At the time, Linda says Raymond was more ready to make the move than she was.

“I had a little bit of resistance, but he was ready to not be worrying about a house anymore—the  plumbing, gardening, landscaping, roofing,” Linda says. “We came out to Riderwood a lot of times and took part in various events. The more it was presented as stress-free living, the more sensible it seemed.”

Fast forward two years and Linda has completely immersed herself in the community at Riderwood. Looking back, Linda says the timing of their move turned out to be perfect.

“I think it has been a wonderful decision—all the more now that we are in this pandemic,” Linda said in May. “I talk to people who live in their homes, and they have to worry about things like going out to shop for groceries. We don’t have any of those worries. People who live in apartments [outside of Riderwood] don’t have any of the community and structure that we have.”

When much of the country was under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, the people who live at Riderwood were in good hands. The hardworking staff made it comfortable and convenient for community members to shelter in place by delivering mail, packages, and meals right to their doors.

“We order our meals and usually have a choice of four different things—it might be blackened cod, chicken, a vegetarian dish, salmon,” Linda says. “The meals are wonderful; they have salads, soups, desserts. You can even order bottles of wine, which is also delivered to the door.”

Riderwood even set up a concierge service to help residents get basic supplies. People who ran out of necessities like shampoo, coffee, tea, or toilet paper could simply call the front desk and someone would deliver the items to their doors. All levels of staff were pitching in to operate the concierge service and other essential functions.

“We don’t have to go anywhere to do anything,” Linda says. “There is really no reason to go anywhere.”

An involved life

Linda serves as the chair of the Resident Advisory Council (RAC), an important and influential committee that serves as a liaison between residents and staff. She decided to get involved with RAC because she was accustomed to being in a leadership position during her career as a school administrator and English teacher.

“I am use to being a leader —you don’t leave a high school as an administrator and step into anonymity,” Linda says. “I like being involved and I have always had a sense of social consciousness. I am into making the world a better place, and I want to do something for my fellow human beings.”

When residents were unable to meet in person during the shelter-at-home directive, the RAC was able to continue much of its work by holding meetings on Zoom. They responded to the coronavirus pandemic by starting a new program called A Call to Community. They recruited volunteers from each floor of all 16 residence buildings to make weekly phone calls to every community member.

The phone calls have turned out to be a powerful way for Riderwood neighbors to stay connected when they couldn’t gather in person. The callers were able to identify people who were experiencing hardships and promptly get them help.

As residents made weekly phone calls to their neighbors, people who had never had the opportunity to meet in person began to form new friendships.

“People are saying, ‘I have met these wonderful new people on the phone, and I can’t wait to have dinner with them when all of this is over,’” Linda says.

In addition to her duties on the RAC, Linda also volunteers in Riderwood’s on-site resale shop. Her role is to visit neighbors’ apartment homes to evaluate whether items they want to donate are a good fit for the shop inventory.

During the spring and summer months, Linda tends to three different garden patches in Riderwood’s community garden—one for vegetables, another for flowers, and a third for perennials. She has taken a literature course through Riderwood’s Lifelong Learning program and recently served on a committee to plan a celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Linda also volunteers to bring holy communion to residents at Arbor Ridge, Riderwood’s on-site continuing care neighborhood.

“That has always been a wonderful experience,” she says. “Another friend and I go over [to Arbor Ridge] for mass twice a month, and I’ve made very dear friends with some of those people.”

Discover how you can retire maintenance-free. Call 1-800-605-2045 to learn more about Riderwood.

Photo: Riderwood Residents Linda and Raymond Wanner​

About Riderwood: Riderwood, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 120-acre campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.   The not-for-profit community of more than 2500 residents is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Riderwood is located in Montgomery County. Additional information about Riderwood can be found at Riderwood.com

 Written by Meghan Streit