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Retirement Lifestyle: The Gatesworth - Ladue News: Special Features

Retirement Lifestyle: The Gatesworth

Smooth Move

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Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 12:00 am

Transitioning from the family home, which often holds decades of memories and the stuff that goes with them, can be an emotional experience for seniors. But it is something the management and staff at The Gatesworth have learned to handle with the grace, understanding and ‘can-do’ spirit that has become the senior living community’s trademark.

    Harris Frank, who moved to the Gatesworth three years ago with his wife Judy, recalls his move-in experience. “It was a difficult time for us. We were facing a lot of decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of,” he says. At the suggestion of Gatesworth director of operations Bob Leonard, Frank enlisted the help of moving specialist Mary Kidwell, the go-to gal when it comes to Gatesworth move-ins. “It’s one of the services provided to all residents,” Frank says. “I was skeptical at first, but after meeting with her a few times, I relied on her experience to determine everything from furniture placement to computer hook-up.”

    Kidwell made every arrangement, and when moving day for the Franks arrived, she led the charge. “It was amazing. They even told us if we wanted to we could check into a hotel for the night and they would call us when everything was finished,” he says. “When we walked in to our new home, we couldn’t believe it. Everything was just how we had planned, right down to the kitchen drawers. We were enormously impressed, and we hadn’t even spent our first night yet!” It made him and his wife confident about their decision. “You can have the nicest facility in the world,” Frank says. “But if you don’t have the people or service to back it up, it won’t matter.”

    For her part, Kidwell says she enjoys working with Gatesworth residents because it allows her to lend her expertise at a time when individuals have plenty on their plates to worry about. “It can be a trying time, so if I can worry about the movers and the details, it frees them up to do other things,” she says.

    Hearing Mr. Frank’s story is rewarding, Leonard says, because it’s the kind of experience he wants residents to associate with their new life at The Gatesworth. “Many times when people decide to move to our campus, they are leaving a home they might have lived in for 30 or 40 years,” he says. “It can be a hard transition, and we try to make it as easy as possible by providing whatever services they need. By the time they get through the moving process, we promise that living here will provide them more independence than they had at home, because they’ll be free of the stress and hard work that comes with maintaining a house.”

    Leonard relates that no matter how much The Gatesworth touts its services, residents are still amazed once they get there. “We tell them that it only gets easier after move-in, but they are always surprised how willing to go the extra mile our staff is,” he says. Personal service has been part of The Gatesworth’s mission since it opened in 1988. “You can’t send someone to a training class to teach them how to be nice. We genuinely care about the people here, and we hire staff that feels the same way,” he says.

    The Gatesworth’s newest residential option, The West Wing, will open next month. “There are 38 new apartments total, half of which are already leased,” Leonard says. Among the residents are Tom and Miggie Collins, who are relocating from  another Gatesworth apartment. “Mr. Collins loves sitting outside on his patio, and when he saw how spacious the patios in the new units are, some as wide as 60 feet, he and his wife decided it was time for a change.”

    Like the Collinses, other Gatesworth residents are moving from one part of the campus to another, which means there are units at every rental price now available, Leonard explains. “Not only do we still have brand new units available, but also some very prime apartments on the existing Gatesworth campus will open as our residents relocate,” he says. “We have all price ranges, starting at $2,600 a month, which is more affordable than people realize, because once you calculate property tax, insurance, heating, cooling  and maintenance, many people realize moving here isn’t more than they are spending a month to live in their home, without the wealth of amenities and services that comes with life at The Gatesworth.” 

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