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‘Full of life’

Fran Calahan has found the lifestyle she craved at Ann’s Choice

Created date

January 5th, 2018
Fran Calahan and Gary Hattal take a turn on one of the dance floors at Ann’s Choice.

Fran Calahan and Gary Hattal take a turn on one of the dance floors at Ann’s Choice.


“There’s an aura about Ann’s Choice,” says Fran Calahan. “It’s inviting and welcoming, and you can feel that when you first walk in.”

Fran moved from Doylestown to Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., in Jan. 2010, nine months after she’d broken her right knee. 

“Because of the knee, I couldn’t do anything till late fall,” Fran says. “It made me realize that should something like that happen again, I should not be in my house. I could fill up my days, but the nights were horrendous. I was too social. I wanted to do and I wanted to be.”

At Ann’s Choice she lives surrounded by friendly and caring neighbors. Fran needs only to walk down the hall for appointments at the campus medical center. And the community’s rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood is also on campus.

Should a medical emergency occur, Ann’s Choice’s security team of EMTs will respond within two minutes.

Fran’s home is a bright and cheerful one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath apartment that she customized to suit her lifestyle. “Because I’m alone, it provides all the space I need,” she says.

It’s also large enough to entertain guests. Last October she invited six neighbors in for “hoagie football night” to watch the Philadelphia Eagles’ game.

To make Fran’s home truly her own, at her expense she commissioned the design center at Ann’s Choice to construct a unit of built-in bookshelves and desk in her bedroom, and a built-in desk and cupboards in her kitchen.

The kitchen desk is her baking counter. When enticing aromas begin wafting from her apartment, Fran’s neighbors know she’s baking her specialty, traditional Slovenian holiday breads.

Activities abound at Ann’s Choice

Fran’s out-of-the-kitchen activities focus on faith and fitness. With more than 150 special interest groups and activities to participate in at Ann’s Choice, she’s found ample opportunities “to be and do.” 

“Ann’s Choice is an enigma,” says Fran. “It’s so different from every other retirement community because it’s full of life. You’re not sitting at home looking at TV or four walls. You’re not squirrelly.” 

Her most meaningful commitment stems from her faith. Fran is a minister in the Catholic faith. Two Sundays a month she administers communion to residents of the community’s continuing care neighborhood. “People are so grateful for this,” she says. “It’s the activity that makes me feel most fulfilled.”

She’s also strongly motivated to stay physically active, and Ann’s Choice makes that easy. Treadmills, strength-training machines, and free weights are all available at the campus fitness center, as is personal training and a wide variety of classes. 

The campus also boasts an aquatics center with an all-season pool and inviting hot tub. 

Fran does water aerobics there. She also volunteers to exercise once a week with a group of community members who are experiencing early memory problems. 

But mainly, Fran is a power walker. She walks three to four miles each day outside on the campus or at Warminster Park next door. If weather keeps her inside, she walks the internal network of hallways and bridges that connect Ann’s Choice’s three independent living neighborhoods and its 15 residence buildings.

One of her fitness pursuits is just plain fun: Fran dances. Through the summers she and her dancing partner, neighbor Gary Hattal, host Ann’s Choice’s monthly dance parties on the patio of Liberty Commons Clubhouse. They also dance at off-campus venues. 

This year they helped plan the 2018 New Year’s Eve party. “We have fun here,” Fran says. “New Year’s Eve is truly a party, and it’s mainly dancing.” 

Meeting and greeting

As an Ann’s Choice ambassador, Fran encourages guests who attend the community’s sales luncheons to move in and start living its carefree lifestyle. 

To guests who’ve visited the campus for years but say they’re just not ready to move yet, she tells her own story and cautions, “Don’t wait too long. You don’t know what your next day will bring, and the longer you wait, the more your energy goes down.”

She also acts as a dinner host for priority list members who drop by the campus every now and then to take part in resident activities and even spend the night as part of the Ann’s Choice Experience. They get firsthand insights about what living at the community would be like.

“Dinner is a much different atmosphere from the sales luncheons,” Fran says. “The bar is open, and people are having cocktails. There’s lots of predinner socializing, and you can feel the happy buzz of conversation.”

The evening camaraderie evokes the warmth and vibrancy that Fran has only found at Ann’s Choice. 

“Here, there’s everything,” she says, “but the essence of Ann’s Choice is the people who live here. It’s home, and there’s no place like it.”