Before Lynda Spychala moved to The Carrington in July 2018, from Shiller Park near O’Hare, she had only lived in two other places in her life— “the house I grew up in, and the house I moved to when I got married.” So, one can imagine that residence #3 would have to meet quite a list of criteria for the future lifestyle Lynda wanted. In telling her story here, we’ve woven in the features and benefits that have made The Carrington at Lincolnwood her perfect spot. Learn how to design your senior living lifestyle, just like Lynda.
☑️ A place where I’d feel welcome from the start.
Lynda’s transition to her next home appeared troublesome at the start. A hospital stay kept her from being actively involved in the initial search process. But her brother and his wife from Skokie jumped in to help. “My brother actually saw construction activity as he drove by one day on his way to Lowes, and, when The Carrington sign went up, he realized it might be just what I was looking for,” Lynda says. Her brother and his wife visited, had a tour, took lots of pictures, and sent them to Lynda in the hospital. “If I was to move, this is where I’d go,” her brother said.
“So as soon as I got out of [the] hospital, we made an appointment to visit so I could see it in person,” says Lynda. “They took me on a tour in a wheelchair. “To me, it was like arriving at a 5-star hotel…the entrance, the café, the living room, wide aisles, everything bright, and not depressing like other communities I’d visited. I wanted something that was more uplifting and this did the trick. I actually signed the paperwork that same day.”
. . . and, then, move-in day. “My nephew brought me in the front door, and Cathy came out to meet me,” Lynda says. “The first thing she said was, ‘Welcome to your new home.’ Not just ‘welcome,’ but ‘welcome to your new home.’ I had just left a house where I’d lived for 40 years. So, to say, ‘Welcome to your new home,’ made me feel like I belonged here. Not just, ‘Here’s your key, see you later.’ And I appreciated that.”
☑️ Opportunities to socialize with people just like me.
Besides the staff at The Carrington, the residents and meaningful relationships have also played a major role in helping Lynda feel welcome in her new home. “When I was living alone, I was sort of becoming a hermit. I would talk to some people on the phone, but because of my immobility at the time, there were few places I could go to get together with people,” she says.
“I got out of my shell at The Carrington. I’m not a big joiner. It’s nice to talk to people face-to-face, not just on the phone. Because of COVID, the phone is how we’re communicating these days. But I like the fact there are people here I can talk with who have some of the same interests I have—some even from my old neighborhood.”
Lynda grew up in Chicago around Fullerton and Central, in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. While visiting with one woman at The Carrington, she discovered they grew up less than a mile from each other. “It’s really a small world,” she says, “and I’ve discovered a lot of connections to people who went to the same school I did, or they know someone I know. It’s like our own little town here. Everybody is very friendly.”
☑️ Activities I want to participate in—on my own schedule.
A big part of socialization at The Carrington is the wide variety of activities, programs and events offered. “I didn’t want a place that was highly scheduled—at 9 o’clock you have to be here; at 11 o’clock you have to be there,” Lynda says. “At The Carrington, you’re given options, and it’s up to you.”
“From my residence, I just take the elevator downstairs, and there’s people. There’s this club, there’s that club. And I can play bingo. I can play bunko. I can go swimming—that was my big thing. I love swimming, so when I saw the pool, I said, ‘I’m in!’ And, if you don’t want to join anything, that’s OK, too. There’s no one forcing you to participate. I like that freedom.”
Lynda likens her life at The Carrington to being on a cruise ship. “You’ve got your food. You’ve got your activities. The only thing is, we see the same port all the time,” Lynda laughs.
☑️ More than just good food—a dining experience.
On Lynda’s checklist was an all-inclusive dining program. At The Carrington, three meals are offered each day, which sets the community apart from others Lynda visited. “I looked at some other places that did not include meals,” Lynda says. “Friends advised against these places warning that I would just want to move again when I was no longer able to cook.”
Lynda appreciates the convenience of dining as she just “takes the elevator down and goes to The Bistro or the restaurant-style dining room. I can have a meal without doing all the cooking and cleaning up,” she says.
The menu itself and the service staff are dining features that Lynda truly appreciates. “The food is excellent and our new chef seems to be really, really good,” Lynda says. “That’s especially important now, with everything that’s going on, and meals that must be delivered to individual residences. The culinary staff is doing a fantastic job of giving us variety. We’re not getting hospital food—it’s not ‘blah’ food. We’re still getting great choices.”
“The dining staff is extremely friendly. I give them a lot of credit because the staff delivering our food during these COVID days is our lifeline. It’s kind of like the animals at the zoo waiting for the zookeeper to open the door,” Lynda laughs.
☑️ Freedom from home maintenance.
When Lynda was visiting communities, two things were very important to her: a washer/dryer in her apartment and covered, inside parking. The Carrington fulfilled both.
“A washer-dryer in my apartment is the best thing ever,” she says. “I just couldn’t see myself dragging a bag of laundry down the hallway. And, in 40 years, I’ve never scraped my windshield as it was always in a garage, and I wasn’t about to start now!”
She continues on about her appreciation of maintenance-free retirement living and a team available to fix things so residents never have to worry about an appliance or something else not working. “As you get older, in a home of your own, you have to hire someone to do everything—mow the grass, shovel the snow, fix appliances,” Lynda says. “So, moving to The Carrington has lifted a big burden from me. I don’t have to worry about any of those things. I just call and say, ‘You know what, my freezer isn’t working.’ And someone comes right out. I’ve really had no problems, but it’s nice to know that service is available, if I need it.”
☑️ On-site medical services and an in-house doctor.
Lynda appreciates having a nurse’s station at the community and is taking advantage of The Carrington’s on-site care, an in-house medical practice, and a podiatrist who visits the community regularly.
“I’ve signed up with the ‘house’ doctor,’ and he comes to see me in my apartment,” she says. I don’t even have to go out to an appointment. Previously, my general practitioner was about 10 miles away—not really so bad, except, if you’re not feeling well, it’s a long way to drive. Now, Dr. Patel comes to me. And because of COVID, he’s making regular visits to make sure everyone is OK. I like that there’s health care available here for me.”
And speaking of life at The Carrington during a major pandemic, Lynda has a few very specific comments. “During COVID-19, management and staff have done a fantastic job keeping us all safe and healthy,” Lynda says. “I worked for a health care company, so I know how some things go. Every week, I keep track of COVID trends by visiting the State of Illinois site. To me, The Carrington has done such a marvelous job of making sure we’re all protected, and I truly appreciate that. Management sets the tone, and they’ve done a phenomenal job by keeping us informed, providing us with notes and directives regarding what we/they should be doing and why. The activities department has also done a great job keeping us entertained on the community TV station, with fitness programs, movies, travelogues, and more.
Lynda says The Carrington has facilitated a significantly positive life-change for herself and her family. “The most important thing is it took some burden off of my brother. I have no children, so my brother was the one coming back and forth to my house, bringing me groceries, making sure I had this and that, and taking me to the doctor. Being at The Carrington makes life better for me and for my family,” she says.
We hope to soon have the opportunity to show you around The Carrington. Like Lynda, bring your checklist. In the meantime, you can experience the community virtually on our website and take a peek at The Carrington lifestyle on our Facebook page. Call us at (847) 744-9469 or complete the online form to make arrangements for your in-person or virtual tour.