Power of community

Tallgrass Creek offers lifestyle of overall wellness

Created date

March 27th, 2020
Tallgrass Creek fitness instructor Camin Bell (center) leads the Men’s Only Strength Training classes each week to a roomful of enthusiastic participants.  

Tallgrass Creek fitness instructor Camin Bell (center) leads the Men’s Only Strength Training classes each week to a roomful of enthusiastic participants.  

When Carolyn Stiles moved to Tallgrass Creek several years ago, she didn’t know she would discover a creative outlet that would add greatly to her life.   

Carolyn is among several students of energetic art teacher Alysia Quisenberry, who teaches weekly painting classes to residents in the Overland Park, Kans. community’s sunny art center. Under Quisenberry’s tutelage, Carolyn learned to paint and it has opened up a beautiful new world. 

“I never dreamed I could paint but Alysia encouraged and guided me,” says Carolyn. “It’s so fulfilling to put paint on paper or canvas in such a way that it expresses emotion and deep feeling. I love it.”

Though Quisenberry loves painting (she has sold several of her own), she says it is most rewarding to watch students like Carolyn grow as artists.

“I love that moment when a student falls in love with painting,” says Quisenberry. “They’re always surprised and excited at how quickly it begins to happen.” 

On the go

Carolyn is representative of many of today’s active seniors, who continue to explore new interests and develop new relationships. 

Erickson Living, which manages 20 retirement communities, including Tallgrass Creek, conducts frequent surveys with prospective residents, and reports that high on most seniors’ lists are physical, nutritional, and social wellness. As a result, they look for retirement communities that offer a variety of fitness classes, healthy food choices, and multiple activities and amenities

Erickson Living Director of Operations Jeff Watson notes there is great benefit to living in neighborhoods such as Tallgrass Creek that promote these facets of overall wellness.  

“One of the greatest things about living in the community is that we draw joy and encouragement from the people around us,” says Watson. “At any Erickson Living-managed community, we have hundreds of peers to appreciate, dozens of groups to join, and multiple causes to fuel.” 

Tallgrass Creek Director of Sales Blake Marshall agrees and says current residents frequently report being more socially and physically active after moving to the community. 

“It’s not surprising,” says Marshall. “Our monthly activity calendar is more than 30 pages long. You can do as little or as much as you want, but there is literally something for every interest.” 

The packed calendar details schedules for day trips, nature outings, restaurant gatherings, learning opportunities, happy hours, art classes, dances, guest speakers, special interest groups, dining experiences, philanthropic opportunities, and more

The calendar includes 28 land-based fitness classes and 10 aquatics classes each week that cater to all levels of ability. 

The classes have made a big difference to residents like Glenn McCoy, who exercises much more consistently than he did before moving to Tallgrass Creek.

“The fitness classes here are an integral part of my daily life,” says Glenn. “They provide an exercise regimen that, if not available, would be very difficult to sustain by myself. Plus, the camaraderie with others provides a benefit that’s hard to measure.” 

Tallgrass Creek’s executive team also adds to the schedule with town halls, coffee get-togethers, holiday celebrations, concerts, and fun evenings of entertainment.

Since January, residents have enjoyed an elegant New Year’s Eve dinner dance, several enthusiastic gatherings celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory, a lively “Dancing with the Stars” event with both community and staff members participating, and several evenings of additional entertainment 

Lifelong learning

There are more than 70 resident-driven clubs at Tallgrass Creek that represent the varied interests of Tallgrass Creek residents. While community members like Carolyn enjoy learning new skills, residents also enjoy sharing their existing interests with neighbors.  

Barbara Hise, a retired psychologist introduced the practice of meditation to her fellow residents. Former TWA pilot Al Pugsley and fellow resident Wes Geer started the Green Team, which creates environmental awareness. Retired physician Merrill Stiles teaches tai chi each week. Lila Martin honed her photography and computer skills at Tallgrass Creek and now her beautiful outdoor scenes stream on channel 1851. 

Residents have learned to play the ukulele, dance, become technically savvy, experience nature, and more. It all leads to an interesting environment that is teeming with activity and camaraderie. 

Bonnie Whalen and her husband Pat noticed that feeling of optimism and social connection when they chose Tallgrass Creek as their retirement home.  

“We saw how active, friendly, and ‘smiling’ people were,” says Bonnie. “There was just a general feeling of positivity that made a difference. We’re glad we’re here.”