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Never say never

At first reluctant to move, doctor finds prescription for health, happiness at Brooksby

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March 21st, 2018
Gilbert Norwood, pictured with his cat Moose, wasn’t planning to move to Brooksby Village but says it’s one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

Gilbert Norwood wasn’t planning to move to Brooksby Village.

If there was one certainty in Gilbert Norwood's future, it was that his retirement years did not include a move to a retirement community.

“After my wife passed away, I moved in with one of our sons,” says Gilbert, a retired pediatrician from Beverly, Mass. “I thought I was set for life.”

Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, popped up now and then in conversations with friends and acquaintances. Out of curiosity, Gilbert drove to Brooksby to look around.

“It’s so big,” says Gilbert. “Brooksby looks like a college campus. My first thought was, ‘Who’d want to live here? You’d get lost.’”

Just lunch

Gilbert returned to his son’s home in Beverly, convinced his living arrangements couldn’t be any better. Still, as the occasional invitation for lunch at Brooksby came his way, Gilbert found himself driving to the community to enjoy a meal.

“I’d been to five or six luncheons, and I thought I should probably do something,” says Gilbert. “I didn’t want the sales team to think, ‘Here comes that guy for the free lunch again.’”

Gilbert joined the priority list in October 2016. Those interested in a potential move to Brooksby can put down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit, plus a non-refundable $150-per-person processing fee, to join the priority list.

The date they join the priority list is noted as their priority date, and they’re given first right of refusal on all apartments that meet their specifications, ahead of anyone who joins the priority list after them. Passing on an apartment doesn’t change their priority list status.

Not moving

“I joined the priority list because there was nothing to lose,” says Gilbert. “But I still wasn’t moving to Brooksby.”

Further confirming his decision to stay put, the doctor’s list of questions about the Peabody community grew every time he visited the campus.

“I thought that if I moved in, I’d be stuck up in a room somewhere and no one would ever see me again,” he says. “‘What would I do with my car? Where would I eat? What would I do with my trash?’ These were the thoughts going through my mind. I felt I would never survive at Brooksby.”

Then a nasty bout of bursitis inflamed Gilbert’s hip so badly he couldn’t walk.

“When my son was at work or visiting friends, I was alone in the house,” says Gilbert. “I couldn’t go to the store for groceries or do any of my usual activities. I watched so much television I knew all the commercials. I started

to realize why loneliness is such a big epidemic among older adults. With no one around, I knew I wasn’t in good shape.”

Just maybe

His mind unfurling to the possibility of a move, Gilbert agreed to meet with Jane Kiegel, Brooksby’s sales counselor.

“My daughter made the appointment and went with me to meet with Jane, who said she had three apartments to show me,” says Gilbert. “I liked the layout of the first apartment, but
I was number two on the priority list for that floor plan. Then Jane got word that the first person on the list passed on it, so I got the apartment I wanted.”

In preparation for the move, Brooksby Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Phillips visited Gilbert in his son’s home to see which furniture pieces would be coming to Brooksby.

“Laurie did a mock-up of the apartment and how the furniture could be arranged,” says Gilbert. “She also recommended movers with experience moving people to Brooksby. That turned out to be a great convenience. The movers had Laurie’s mock-up and everything was in its place by the end of moving day.”

Gilbert settled into his Brooksby apartment home on June 20, 2017. That evening, he thought, “This is going to be an interesting experiment. We’ll see how it goes.”

Life changing

Now, just over nine months later, Gilbert says his move to Brooksby was life changing.

“My friends tell me they’re tired of listening to me talk about how nice it is at Brooksby,” he says with a laugh. “But this place has totally shocked me. I can’t believe how much I enjoy living here.”

His previous concerns dissipated soon after he moved in.

“You meet a lot of people in the restaurants when you’re eating dinner,” says Gilbert. “By the end of the meal, you’ve gotten to know each other. And the food is terrific.”

Another perk of living at Brooksby? The general services team handles all maintenance issues.

“The heat wasn’t working in my apartment one evening,” says Gilbert. “I walked down to the front desk and asked if they could send someone to look at it the next morning. Half an hour later, a repairman was at my door. He fixed the heat that night. You can’t get service like that in a house.”

Fresh take on life

Gilbert’s not the only one enjoying a new outlook since moving to Brooksby. His 15-year-old cat Moose is also experiencing a rejuvenation.

“Moose wasn’t doing well before I moved, and I thought I’d have to put him down,” says Gilbert. “But now he’s come alive. He jumps up in the window and watches everyone coming and going. He’s got a new lease on life.”

With his bursitis under control, Gilbert’s resumed his full schedule of activities. He takes an art class in Beverly, plays the trumpet and flugelhorn in three bands—concert, dance, and jazz. He plays drums for the Irregulars, a musical group of Brooksby residents who perform on Tuesday and Friday evenings at the community.

Gilbert also monitors a class of medical students at Boston University several times a semester.

“I’m doing the things I love, and I’m living in a safe community with plenty of friends, good food, and a staff that does everything they can to take care of residents,” says Gilbert. “I told myself I’d never move to Brooksby, and now I’m so glad I did.” 

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