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Back on board

Travel enthusiast likens living at Devonshire to being on a cruise ship

Created date

March 21st, 2016
Devonshire resident Barbie Traum

Devonshire resident Barbie Traum

Three days after she’d returned from a cruise, Barbie Traum attended a sales luncheon at Devonshire at PGA National.

When she entered the lobby, Barbie felt like she was right back on the ship. 

She was elated. “A cruise ship is my happy place, ”she says.

The clubhouse lobby of Erickson Living’s retirement community in Palm Beach Gardens reminded Barbie of the ship’s atrium, and its five graciously appointed clubhouse restaurants suggested the elegant dining she’d enjoyed on board.

Although she was younger than most people who move to a retirement community, Barbie had recently ended her teaching career and was eager to shed the responsibilities of her much-too-large, four-bedroom house in Greenacres, Fla. 

“I was also tired of being so alone,” she says. And she also only wanted to move one time. 

“So I walked around, and I liked what I saw,” she says. “Devonshire suited and intrigued me. It merited a second visit.”

A community member hosted Barbie on her return visit and introduced her around. “I could relate to them,” she says. “They were warm and open and interesting.”

So during that second visit, she joined Devonshire’s priority list to save her place in line for a one-bedroom apartment style; she’d toured one and liked it. 

She also volunteered to help in the community’s herb garden even before moving. 

“Gardening appeals to me because it’s an activity that benefits others,” Barbie says. 

She was ready to downsize and simplify her life. 

Cruising to a new life

Last summer, Barbie and her son took a cruise together. She showed him her Devonshire brochures. Afterward, they visited Devonshire, where three one-bedroom apartment styles had become available.

As they entered a recently updated Mayfair style, Barbie’s son said, “Mom, this is home.”

When she demurred because it had a balcony, he said, “You insist we have a verandah on every cruise. You’re going to have this one.” 

Indeed, that’s where Barbie lives now. She loves the apartment and her balcony view, but what ultimately drew her to Devonshire were the interesting, stimulating people who live there.

She feels more welcomed and has made more connections at Devonshire than at her school or her Greenacres neighborhood. 

Once a week, she volunteers at her grandchildren’s school. Everything else she plays by ear.

She uses Devonshire’s transportation for activities she calls “shore excursions,” trips to Gardens Mall, craft shows, and flea markets.

And as part of the knitting group, she’s making an afghan for Chatsworth, Devonshire’s rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood. 

Barbie likes knowing that Chatsworth is there “just in case.”

“I’m offering my kids freedom,” she says. “The idea is to age gracefully, and that’s what you do at Devonshire.”

“People who know me say I’ve never sounded so happy and content as I do now.”