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Family-friendly communities

Created date

July 14th, 2009

If you consider yourself a happy and successful person, you might want to thank your family. Doctors at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles say the relationship you have with your family may be the key to a long and joyful life. Families through time have changed, but they have not declined in importance to Americans, according to Vern Bengtson, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and sociology at the University of Southern California. We have seen evidence that an increased degree of positive contact with family can add years to your life.

The more, the merrier

With 10 children, 24 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren, Helen and Norman Davis know a thing or two about the importance of family relationships. We feel so blessed to have such a big family, says Mrs. Davis. We get together as often as we can for Christmas, Mother s Day, Father s Day, and other events throughout the year. This past Christmas, I think there were 65 of us all together. The Davises live at Oak Crest, a community by Erickson in Parkville, just a ten-minute drive from the house where they raised their family. And now, two of the Davis s sons Woody, the eldest of ten, and Chuck, the youngest work for Oak Crest s General Services Department. We drop the sports page off under Woody s office door every day, says Mrs. Davis. It s nice to know they re both here if we would need anything. After 62 years of marriage, the Davises are making the most of their retirement and taking advantage of the free time they have together. With ten children, we didn t have much time for ourselves, says Mrs. Davis. These days, the Davises report having the time and resources at Oak Crest to pursue their interests. Among other activities, the couple runs the Treasure Chest, the community s resident-run resale store. Chuck Davis concurs that his parents active lifestyle makes it sometimes difficult to catch up with them but says working where they live gives him an advantage. They re involved in a lot of activities, and it keeps them busy sometimes too busy, he says. But I do usually get a chance to see them during the week before they go to dinner, which is nice.

Family reunion

Both Oak Crest and its sister community, Charlestown in Catonsville, have attracted family members from all walks of life. From grandparents and in-laws to brothers and sisters, dozens of family members across the U.S. call Erickson communities home. For Dick Neumyer, what was once a two-hour plane ride to visit his sister, Dorthea Wehland, is now a five-minute walk. My wife (Judy) and I were living in Orlando and traveled up to Baltimore a couple times a year, says Neumyer. Normally we would stay in a hotel, until Dorthea and her husband, Henry, invited us to stay in a guest room at Charlestown, where they were living. The rest, as they say, is history. On that very same trip, the Neumyers joined Charlestown s priority list by making a refundable deposit to reserve their place in line for an apartment home. Two of six siblings, Neumyer and Wehland are happy to report they now see each other regularly. I d say we have dinner probably three times a month a lot more than if we lived across town from one another, says Neumyer. It s nice to know we re just a short walk from each other. We all have busy lives, and it s hard to get all of us together, adds Wehland. But now that Dick and Judy live at Charlestown, we see each other all the time. We often end up in the same dining room at the same time without even knowing the other was going to be there. Wehland s granddaughter also works in the Refectory, one of Charlestown s six on-site restaurants. Our grandkids have always enjoyed coming to visit us here, she says. We would take them to the pool and some of the other things on campus. I feel very fortunate that I have a close relationship with my family. After all, they are the ones who are there for you when you need something.