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Better than expected

Looking back at one year at Lantern Hill

Created date

June 1st, 2017
The aquatics center is just one of many amenities to be enjoyed by Lantern Hill residents.

The aquatics center is just one of many amenities to be enjoyed by Lantern Hill residents.

One year ago, Ken Militzer traded his large house and all the maintenance that went with it for a worry-free lifestyle at Lantern Hill. The Erickson Living community in New Providence, N.J., celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, and Ken was one of the very first people to call it home.

Looking back over the past year, Ken’s glad he made the move. He’s more social, more active, and less worried about the unexpected.

In fact, he says life at Lantern Hill is even better than he—or his partner of 11 years—had expected.

“My lady friend, who does not live here, was very skeptical of the move. But just last night she said to me, ‘You have a much more interesting life at Lantern Hill than you did back where you were living,’” he says.

They dine together every night, either with new friends at Lantern Hill or at her house. They play Ping-Pong on the tournament table he donated to the community. They attend movies, performances, and lectures at Lantern Hill’s on-site arts and enrichment center. They play bridge once a week with another couple. And they travel frequently.

During warmer months, Ken plays par-3 golf at a nearby course, and they both belong to a local gym, though should inclement weather keep him from driving, he can always use the fitness and aquatics centers on campus.

It’s healthy to be social

“One of the things that I like about Lantern Hill is there’s so much here to do,” Ken says. “There’s stuff for everyone here. There’s the library, the art studio, and there’s an excellent selection of movies and a wonderful concierge.”

Though Ken was socially active before moving, he says he’s even more so now. 

When the Tribune interviewed Ken in 2015, he said, “In suburbia, a lot of acquaintances are made through your children. When you are just a couple or a single person, you don’t have those occasions to meet people. I’m thinking that it will be different [at Lantern Hill].”

That has certainly turned out to be the case. 

“I have lots more interaction with people than I had when I was in my single-family home,” he says, which is a good thing. 

Making and maintaining friendships is a big deal as we grow older. Numerous research studies have shown that older adults with the highest levels of social activity have significantly higher cognitive function than those who are least socially active.

The Rush Memory and Aging Project terms social interaction and activities “life space.” 

According to the project’s website, “Life space is the extent to which we move through our environments as we carry out our daily lives—from home to garden to restaurants to workplace and beyond.” 

The project’s investigators have found that constricted life space is associated with decreased cognitive functions. They recommend that people, particularly older adults, get out as much as possible and enjoy the world around them—which Ken and his friend do frequently by taking cruises.

“I’ve been very active. We took one 20-day cruise through the Panama Canal from New York to San Francisco and a 30-day cruise to Japan and back across the Pacific to Alaska. We’re still very active, and it isn’t just here [at Lantern Hill],” he says.

Better than expected

Ken says the maintenance-free lifestyle at Lantern Hill has enabled him to embrace his retirement from AT&T as its chief economist.

“I think the maintenance-free lifestyle has been very much as expected or better,” he says.

His apartment home has been better than expected as well.  

“We were concerned about the size of the apartment, but it’s turned out to be every bit as much as I need,” he says. "I gave up a lot of space I didn’t need, and I have all the space here that I do need.”