Marilyn Spera gets her independence back

Location, convenience, lifestyle make Lantern Hill the perfect place to live again

Created date

January 8th, 2018
Marilyn and Gabriel Spera danced the night away at Lantern Hill’s Hollywood themed Pioneer Gratitude Gala in October (see story below). “It was a wonderful evening,” says Marilyn. “[Lantern Hill's staff] did a fabulous job, and I never heard one complaint

Marilyn and Gabriel Spera danced the night away at Lantern Hill’s Hollywood themed Pioneer Gratitude Gala in October. “It was a wonderful evening,” says Marilyn. 


Marilyn and Gabriel Spera celebrated their one-year anniversary of life at Lantern Hill in September. Looking back, they say moving to the Erickson Living community in New Providence, N.J., was the single best thing they’ve done for their retirement years.

Here, Marilyn answers some questions about her life at Lantern Hill. 

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve done for yourself at this stage in your life?  

A: Moving to Lantern Hill. I am disabled; I had had polio when I was child at eight years old. In the 80s I started to develop post-polio syndrome, and I eventually had to have major back surgery.

Moving here was the best thing because I use a motorized wheelchair, but now I can go to the movies, the fitness center—I have my independence back.

The reason we moved here is because we started looking to the future and realized if something were to happen to my husband, I could not stay in the house (a single-family home in Scotch Plains, N.J.). We wanted to make this decision for ourselves and move somewhere that is more convenient and accessible for me with all levels of care, should we need it.

We had downsized 20 years ago; 20 years makes a big difference. You need more help. We decided this would be a good choice since it’s also not that far from where we used to live and one of our sons still lives in Scotch Plains.

We had looked at other places, but they were far away, and this was a great opportunity for us. We [joined the priority list] in 2014 before construction and chose the Glenside, a two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and laundry room and lots of storage. It’s very nice.  

Q: Do you wish you had done anything differently? If so, what is it? 

A: No. I’m happy with the way things worked out. We didn’t want to wait. 

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time? 

A: I like to play bridge. I just came back from the indoor swimming pool—that’s the best kind of exercise for me. Reading. Just everything. Going to the movies here. Everything is so accessible. 

Before, when I had my house, I had to go to the health club and get dressed and undressed and get back home. Now, in the wintertime I don’t have to worry about putting on heavier clothes and coats, or about going outside or transportation. I don’t have to go off campus for much, but when I do need to, they have a van now that I can get on in my wheelchair and go places. 

I’ve been playing chimes now since I moved here. I was never involved in music. 

My husband has joined the Lion’s Club and the Republican Committee. He is very involved. 

Q: What’s something you still aspire to do? 

A: I would like to take some computer lessons. My husband bought me a computer, and I’m not that proficient. I use my iPhone and iPad, but I’d like to learn more on the computer. 

Q: How do you prefer to stay active? 

A: I’m very sociable. Everybody knows me. I enjoy people.

Q: How do you prefer to take your meals? 

A: We usually eat in the restaurants [on campus]. And we do go out too. 

Q: What advice would you give someone considering a move to

Lantern Hill? 

A: From what I understand, I think people wait too long before they move here. To enjoy everything this place has to offer, moving here in your 70s is smart. Don’t wait too long. 

Also, make the decision yourself before you leave it to your children or family members. Let it be your decision, no one else’s.

Q: What are your top three favorite things about Lantern Hill? 

A: The area. New Providence is lovely.

The people. Everybody here is lovely. The staff is wonderful.

The convenience—how easy they make things.