Retirement is often considered a time to slow down and relax, but the reality is that older adults are more active than ever before. That’s thanks in part to the wide range activities offered by senior living communities. We checked in with two residents to learn how they’re engaging their interests to get involved and make the local communities they call home more enjoyable for everyone.
friendship village chesterfield
When Vi Rumbolo moved into Friendship Village Chesterfield in 2013, she found she still had her husband’s bocce gear. “I had never played because bocce ball was considered a man’s sport,” she recalls. “I wasn’t allowed to participate. I watched and had an idea of the rules but didn’t have any technical experience. I decided I would start playing here.”
Rumbolo researched the game and began playing with six other residents. Now, Friendship Village has a competitive bocce team with more than 40 regular participants. “Usually, you don’t have that many players, but everyone has so much fun,” she says. “I’m not going to tell anyone they can’t play. It just keeps growing, and the interest is fabulous.” Residents of all ages get involved. Rumbolo, who herself is 97 years old, notes that the oldest participant is 107 and plays from his wheelchair.
To meet the demand, Friendship Village built professional bocce courts at both its Chesterfield and Sunset Hills locations. The two senior living communities then held a friendly competition in celebration. While Sunset Hills managed to secure victory, Rumbolo is confident Chesterfield will be able to snag back the trophy. “It was a magnificent day, and it’s wonderful how supportive the owners are of residents’ interests,” she says. “When you come to a place like Friendship Village, you want to live a little more fully and do the things you couldn’t before. Bocce has been a great way to make new friends and enjoy camaraderie.”
St. Louisan Berkeley Gunther has a long history with The Gatesworth. Before becoming a resident herself, she helped family and friends settle into the community. When it came time for her to move in, she was approached about participating in landscape planning. “Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve been involved in the landscaping, so I am happy to be part of the process here,” she says. “I work with the groundskeeper and one of the owners on planning, and I manage the greenhouse.”
The Gatesworth has 13 acres of grounds full of paths, courtyards, lakes and native plantings. “There’s easy access for walking, and it’s wonderful to get to see the seasonal change,” Gunther says. “We have the most remarkable collection of mature trees and plants. It’s like its own ecosystem.” The community also holds events and offers al fresco dining so residents can enjoy the outdoor spaces.
The newest addition to The Gatesworth’s grounds is the pollinator garden. The space is planted with annuals and perennials chosen to attract both bees and butterflies. “Currently, it’s my favorite spot,” Gunther says. “We get to see a lot of pollinator activity, so it’s educational and a lot of fun. Residents are excited about it, and I love the whole thing.”