Families making plans to visit a relative at The Gatesworth have learned that sometimes it’s advisable to call ahead of time. “They tell us, We can never find Mom because she’s never in her apartment— she’s always so busy!” says The Gatesworth’s Erin Swenson. In fact, there are usually so many activities going on that the staff makes the calendar available through a channel on TV, an activity line, a monthly calendar and daily handouts.

Among the most popular offerings is a monthly daytrip. “There’s always a waiting list for it, because everybody wants to go!” says Swenson, The Gatesworth’s leasing director. “Our residents are very active, and they like to get out and do things, especially when it’s a community event. Transportation is included and the whole day is planned out—they just go and enjoy themselves on a day that’s been planned for them.” While past trips have included Hermann, Mo., the Lincoln Library and a lunch outing to Ste. Genevieve, this month’s offering is a mystery tour, Swenson says. Weekly trips to area museums are another big hit, she adds.

Even without leaving the grounds, there are plenty of opportunities for keeping both the body and the mind active. Five staff fitness trainers lead daily classes ranging from basic to advanced, including water exercise, a balance class, functional fitness and a chair stretching class for those with less mobility, Swenson notes. The wellness program also includes massages and a full spa. Many residents keep physically active by walking their pets, she adds. “A lot of places don’t allow pets, but we have designated apartments for that,” Swenson says. “People walk them around the grounds. We have beautiful gardens and two lakes.”

For those with a lifelong love of learning, The Gatesworth partners with Maryville University to host a speaker series, which allows instructors to come in and speak on their specialty. Other residents take classes through Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute, Swenson adds. “We do a lot of discussion groups here,” she says. “There’s a group called Perspectives in the News, which is led by one of the residents. They get together once a week and talk about what’s going on in the world. We also offer live entertainment two to three nights per week and the residents will dance, which is wonderful to see.”

Still haven’t found your niche? Weekly art classes and bi-weekly computer tutoring sessions also are on hand. “We have a greenhouse, where those with a green thumb can come and re-pot their plants,” Swenson notes. Residents are welcome to leave their outdoor plants there during the winter months, or use the growing light to start seedlings—an idea that started with a resident request.

Apart from the many activities, social opportunities are another key element of the community, Swenson adds. “The residents really just enjoy spending time with each other,” she says. “Every day at 3 p.m. we have tea time, where they visit with friends and have coffee or cookies. We have card games, and there are also lots of private games that go on. There are some really amazing people here. Everybody has such a wonderful story, and they all want to share them, which is great! It makes our jobs fun every day.”