In any life-affirming culture, time is regarded as an ally to be embraced and longevity is celebrated. Gandhi was no spring chicken at the height of his accomplishments; neither was Mother Theresa; and George Foreman stunned the world by winning back the heavyweight championship at an age when most fighters were deemed past their prime. But big Ol’ George was the one left standing over his opponent, a good 20 years his junior. Paul Cezanne’s paintings reached their creative apex in his mid-60s. British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is still designing punk rock clothing at 77. An endless parade of noteworthy achievements by people in the second half of life easily puts to rest the fallacy that advancing years are any reason to wind down, intellectually or creatively.
At the StoneRidge living community on Jerry Browne Road in Mystic, the consensus of both staff and residents there is one of optimism and opportunity. The community is a scenic hilltop settlement, idyllic in the sense that the pursuit of sound health, arts and sciences, athletics, meditation and – above all, the camaraderie of friends and neighbors – are daily observances.
“The concept of StoneRidge is for our residents to continue being purposeful and active in their lives,” said Executive Director Kathleen Dess, who coordinates and oversees all programs and functions at StoneRidge.
The facility was founded and built in 2003 on the Jerry Browne Road hillock that looms a half-mile from Mystic Aquarium. Its mission is to maximize independence in a supportive environment for residents over the age of 65. For some, it stands as a warm reward for life’s long efforts.
With multiple housing units (270 in all) – both for independent and assisted living spread over a bountiful acreage of elegant living quarters – residents enjoy what has been termed a “continuum of care”, which allows able-bodied residents to “age in place;” incorporating skilled nursing and memory care services as they become needed. Senior resident Monroe Dickinson has found in StoneRidge the life plan he was seeking. “We have residents here as young as 68, but most enter when they’re in their 70s or 80s,” he explained. Dickinson and fellow resident Dick Nourie both agree that a fair amount of preparation goes into the decision to give up the responsibilities of home ownership and maintenance and to settle into a retirement of veritable stress-free living.
“This is not a quick process,” said Nourie. “People think carefully about what they’re going to do in their retirement years. As we age, we no longer have access to the same communities as before, or the companionship and fulfillment we once derived from it.”
Other residents sitting round the long glistening table in the private dining room—Chet Andrews and Ruth Walsh—nodded in agreement.
“You can be as active here as you want,” said Nourie, “and as independent as you like. Yet, you still have your privacy whenever you want it.”
Given the hub of activity and ongoing events prevalent in southeastern Connecticut, StoneRidge residents not only have transportation readily available, but also the choice of interacting with a wide swath of community organizations and groups, including a most rewarding and special rapport with public and private schools in the region. Students from the Pine Point School in Stonington work in conjunction with StoneRidge residents on projects—building bridges across generations with vivacity and insight.
Pets are also a precious presence in the lives of StoneRidge residents, including certified therapy dogs and cats, the venerable longtime bond between humans and companion animals honored most dutifully. It’s common to see folks pedaling by on bikes, or hiking the lush natural grounds, while others enjoy the fitness lessons in the pool or the spacious film and stage room where movies, plays, and poetry readings take place.
Exceptional dynamics in the wide range of activities at StoneRidge have resulted from the presence of two talented young professionals – Michael Langlois and Tracey Godwin Randolph – who breathe creativity and passion into their roles.
Langlois, a long-established theater professional, is the Director of Community Life Services. He is dedicated to developing arts programs that not only provide creative release, but also the opportunity for fruitful discussions and an energetic exchange of ideas. “We have an entire host of activities,” said Langlois, adding that at StoneRidge, there is always a great reason to get up in the morning, whether it’s to take part in a day trip, book club, computer or woodworking class, strength training, water aerobics, recreation, or attend a lecture, cultural presentation, or cocktail party. “It’s important that whatever Tracey (Godwin Randolph) and I present here are all activities driven primarily by the passion of the participants.”
Tracey agrees. “We offer an extensive variety of health, athletics, and basic fitness programs, and I’m proud to say that over 90% of our residents participate. Moreso, Michael and I collaborate a lot and we both have found that discussion and camaraderie among our residents represent the most valuable of benefits. The outpouring of love exchanged among everyone here is what I cherish most.”
Resident Chet Andrews succinctly echoes that reflection: “I’ve found a family here … and a purpose again in life.”
StoneRidge is located at 186 Jerry Browne Road, Mystic, CT, 06355. To learn more, call 860-536-9700 or visit https://stoneridgelcs.com/.