Thankful to Be Here: A Resident’s Story

a story from our residents

Senior living communities promote a lifestyle that appeals to active seniors, offering a profusion of activities designed to stimulate and engage residents socially, physically and mentally. This, in turn, helps residents maintain or even increase their level of activity — along with improving their quality of life.

Bill Sams, who moved to Heron’s Key in 2022 with his wife, Janet, can attest to the abundance of opportunities they’ve had to expand their social circle and become involved in the community.

Older adults choose to live in a retirement community for many other reasons, as well, such as convenience, access to care and a desire to make things easier for their family down the road.

Sometimes, they discover certain advantages of living in a community like Heron’s Key after the fact, like Bill did.

Bill says if they hadn’t moved to Heron’s Key when they did, he might not be around to share his story.

How Bill and Janet Came to Live at Heron’s Key

Before moving to our community, the couple lived on Bainbridge Island, about an hour away from Gig Harbor. So did Janet’s sister, Barbara.

Bill notes that their social network was dwindling. Some of their friends had moved to be closer to their grandkids. Others had found new homes in communities like ours. A few had passed away.

“We were losing friends faster than we were making friends,” Bill says.

Bill and Janet were also taking care of Barbara after she experienced medical events that left her less independent than before. They began looking into senior living options for her, which brought them to Heron’s Key.

“We looked around at all of the amenities here, and the amount of things going on every day is just mind-boggling,” Bill says. “Instead of a retirement community, it should be called a retirement resort. It’s like a cruise ship that doesn’t leave the dock!”

Bill and Janet decided not only would Heron’s Key be a good place for Barbara to live — it would be good for them, too. Within a few months, all three were settling into their new homes.

“Everything just dropped right into place,” Bill says, noting the timing worked out in their favor and they were able to get two apartments of the same model.

“It’s been a little over a year since we moved here, and we have a list of a hundred people we’ve had dinner with, some of them multiple times. Our social cohort has dramatically expanded,” he says.

Barbara is happy with her new home as well, according to Bill.

“She’s a very social person, so she’s like a duck in water here,” he says.

Bill, Janet and Barbara are typical of the active senior citizens you’ll find thriving in our community.

Why Bill Believes Living at Heron’s Key Saved His Life

One day, not so long ago, Bill began having upper chest pains. He called his doctor, who advised him to go the emergency room. At first, he was hesitant to go.

“We guys don’t always pay attention to what we’re told to do,” he admits with a chuckle.

When he started to feel faint, though, he took the situation more seriously and asked Barbara to drive him to the ER.

“The reason I was willing to do that is because Heron’s Key is about a mile and a half from the hospital,” he says, explaining that if they had still been living on Bainbridge, he would’ve had to call 911 and wait for the ambulance to show up. Then, the ambulance would have had to take the ferry back to the mainland and to a hospital in Seattle.

He says that would’ve been “enough of a hassle” to deter him from calling right away. Instead, he would have waited for additional symptoms; that decision, Bill later learned from his physicians, more than likely would have been fatal.

The medical team at St. Anthony Hospital found two blockages in the valves in his heart, one at 90% and the other at 99%, and Bill underwent double bypass surgery. Today, he’s recovering well.

“I feel like I dodged a major bullet by the fact that we were here at Heron’s key, with the ease of access to medical services,” he says.

Another Advantage Bill Discovered: Penrose Harbor

Bill notes that the staff at Penrose Harbor, the area on our campus that offers Assisted Living, Memory Care,  Skilled Nursing and Rehab, had access to his medical records at St. Anthony Hospital and kept track of his progress during his stay.

“They had a room reserved for me at Penrose Harbor so that if I needed any rehabilitation when I got out of the hospital, I’d have gone directly there,” he says, adding that Penrose Harbor is just a short walk from their apartment.

“Anybody who’s tried to find a skilled nursing bed on short notice will tell you there are almost none to be had, and certainly none that are a five-minute walk down the hallway. Another huge benefit is the care at Penrose Harbor has the highest ranking of all skilled nursing facilities in Gig Harbor, and has maintained four- and five-star rankings by the state of Washington throughout its history.”

“All of those things considered, we are tremendously glad we made the decision we did to move to Heron’s Key. In my case, I think it was a life or death decision.”

Living Here Will Help Bill in His Recovery, Too

“I’m now seeing that a lot of the exhaustion and other feelings I had over the last year, which I thought were just a matter of getting old, were really the heart problem,” Bill says.

When he completes the 12-week supervised cardio exercise program he’s in, Bill plans to make use of the fitness amenities available to him right here at home.

“Heron’s Key has everything I could want as far as exercise equipment, plus the two fitness specialists and the two full-time physical therapists at Penrose Harbor,” he says, noting that he has a prescription from his physician to work with the physical therapists when he wants.

There’s also a paved path around the ponds adjacent to our property, which Bill says is “ideal for walks.”

“I couldn’t be in a better place to rehab,” he says.

Staying Active and the Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

Bill’s story offers a compelling answer to the question, why is it important for older adults to stay active?

By today’s standards, independent living residents aren’t what most of us would consider elderly, but staying active will help many get the most out of their retirement years — and make it more likely they’ll remain active and independent as they age, like Bill and Janet.

Along with staying socially and intellectually active, maintaining a certain level of physical activity (whether you call it exercise or not) can increase your chances of enjoying life to the fullest as you get older.

A regular routine of moderate-intensity physical activity that includes aerobic, cardio and strength training can:

  • Reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Improve your immune and digestive systems
  • Help you manage your weight
  • Increase your bone density and muscle mass, or at least prevent further loss
  • Improve your strength and balance, which will lower your risk of falling
  • Reduce stress and ward off depression
  • Lower your blood pressure if you have hypertension
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Boost your energy level
  • Increase your flexibility
  • Potentially improve cognitive function and lower the risk of dementia
  • Broaden your social circles through shared classes

To be safe, check with your doctor for recommendations before you get started.

We Make Being Active Fun!

The variety of activities, classes and opportunities for socializing at Heron’s Key offers something for everyone. Come find out for yourself. Attend an upcoming event. Or, contact us to set up a visit.

Let us introduce you to an active lifestyle you’ll love.

Featured Image: Fizkes / Shutterstock