Pivot Around the Pandemic: Kendal Residents Stay Active and Connected

It may seem that quarantine and social distancing automatically means loneliness and isolation, but the residents of Kendal at Lexington say that’s not the case. During a Resident Discussion Panel held on Zoom, panelists shared how they have been staying busy and active within the Kendal community as well as why living in a community such as Kendal has served them well during the pandemic.

Appreciating the amenities

The fitness center and library remain popular amenities on campus. While the fitness center is currently available by appointment only, there are other classes such as stretch and yoga, and the pool that’s available.

One resident panelist, Doreen, said that it’s not difficult to stay busy. Whether it’s visiting the fitness center, going on walks, or taking advantage of some of the conversation pods set up around the campus, both outside and inside, she says she’s busy every day.

Another resident, Dorothy, just moved into Kendal at Lexington. “I am absolutely happy as can be. I love my apartment, love the food, but I think most of all, I love being able to walk out my back door and walk over to the gym. It’s a great way to meet people.”

For those less than ideal weather days, the library boasts over 7,000 books. Resident panelist, Carroll, is active in running the library and helping choose books, drawing on her past career as a librarian.

“I read more, I have a lot of books to read and there’s a lot of books in our library. You can never run out of books to read,” resident panelist Paul added.

A sense of safety

As the discussion shifted to other benefits of living at Kendal, the sense of safety was unanimous. Dorothy said making the decision to move now, during COVID was an easy decision. “It gave me a real sense of how isolating aging in place can be. You have friends you don’t see much anymore because they’re also aging, or perhaps your grandchildren like mine, are getting to be teenagers.”

Another president panelist, John, agrees, “I sometimes think if I had stayed in my house near Denver, I might go out to buy groceries once in a while. But other than that, I would drive into my garage, close the door and I wouldn’t see anybody for days. That’s not the case here. This has been a real plus in that regard.”

Both staff and residents agreed that they feel they are in the safest place possible during the pandemic, with sanitation measures, frequent testing, and adapting to changing requirements for gatherings. Many residents still prefer in-person interactions rather than video for activities such as lectures and movies (socially distanced) and the dining room is not open yet, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm the residents have for living at Kendal.

“All of the residents I’m sure would affirm that we’re so grateful for the wonderful staff here, that we know each other and have the sense of community and looking out for each other,” said resident panelist Dianne. “And my kids are so happy that I am here during all of this, because I keep telling them how we’re all doing, really practicing together being safe. It takes a community effort.”

Pets help make it possible

Health and Wellness experts all agree that owning a pet has mental and physical benefits. According to Harvard Medical School, owning a pet improves the sense of purpose and wellbeing, and can be a great motivator to be more physically active and invite social interaction.

Nearly every panelist mentioned getting outside with their dog (or cat) as one way they are able to stay active and interact with others.

Barry is one of the residents who takes advantage of classes at the fitness center, but also gets out on the campus trails. “I’m able to run into a lot of people walking their dog or just getting exercise. We stay socially distanced, but we have lots of chats about our dogs and other things.”

Other panelists agreed that Kendal is a very pet-friendly campus. But the walking trails also give residents the opportunity to stop and chat at a safe distance with those enjoying time on the porch of their cottages as well.

Improved connections through committees

Nearly every panelist serves on some sort of committee within the Kendal community. As part of a resident-driven environment, residents provide much of the input into the types of programs and activities offered. Whether it’s bringing in new technology to keep residents connect like John has done with work on the CATIE web portal, or planning music and movies for the big screen like Paul does. “Once you’re involved in a committee, there’s another committee that wants you too,” Paul joked.

A project to highlight Kendal at Lexington’s 20th anniversary was another way Carroll stays busy, interviewing long-time residents and writing up articles that will be shared in the campus newsletter.

There are also volunteer opportunities outside the campus, some of which are limited at the moment, but also an option that many residents enjoy about living in the Lexington area.

Kendal at Lexington encourages prospective residents to join the waitlist and is currently open for tours on a limited basis to open residences or outdoor tours.