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Living without limits

Delaware woman trades isolation for Maris Grove’s active lifestyle

Created date

July 7th, 2015
Maris Grove resident
Maris Grove resident

Barbara Wise moved from a large house in Wilmington, Del., to , Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., after she realized how limited her life had become.  

“One week it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen, talked to, or made phone calls to anyone for two or three days,” she says. “That wasn’t good.” 

It only took one visit to convince Barbara she’d be happy at Maris Grove. Its gated entrance and 24/7 security team made her feel safe, her children wouldn’t worry about her living alone, and should she need medical care, it was available on-site.

“There was nothing comparable in Wilmington,” she says. 

But she does maintain strong ties there, returning for church services, cultural performances, and to volunteer. And she and a Wilmington friend travel together. They’ve explored Europe, white-water rafted in the Grand Canyon, and crossed the Arctic Circle during an Alaskan trip. 

In good company

Barbara’s move to Maris Grove truly ended her social isolation. She describes the community as a collection of little neighborhoods populated by kind and friendly people. 

A number of them are DuPont retirees, as is Barbara. So she already knew many of her neighbors when she moved in. 

To meet people she didn’t know, each evening in the campus restaurants she asked to be seated at any table with an empty chair. 

She’s adding more friends by playing bridge and bocce; knitting with the Social Stitchery group; and volunteering at Treasure Chest, the campus resale shop.

And because her community garden space sits next to Bob Welsh’s, she became friends with him and his wife Rita. 

Step out, stay fit

Bob and Barbara share an aversion to couch sitting. He walks or jogs outdoors every day, which keeps him fit for participating with several family members in the annual Philadelphia half marathon. He’s medaled there for five straight years.

Barbara walks outdoors and water-walks in Maris Grove’s all-season swimming pool. And she, like Bob, walks to the shopping mall across the street from Maris Grove.

Each week, Bob walks to the nearby seafood market. While most residents give up cooking in favor of Maris Grove’s creative cuisine, his weekly “catch” lets him and Rita enjoy fresh fish prepared in their own kitchen.

For three years now, Bob and Barbara have joined other Maris Grove residents and staff to participate in the Ronald McDonald House 5K Walk/Run in Wilmington. Usually competing against younger participants, these two neighbors tend to trounce their competition. 

At Maris Grove, they lead lifestyles without limits. “I don’t just exist here,” Barbara says. “I really live.”