I recently started a new job at Capital Senior Living’s The Amberleigh in Williamsville, New York, a beautiful 267 unit Independent, Assisted and Enhanced Assisted living campus.  While making my introductory rounds with the residents I was awe struck at the number of centenarians who live on campus, five in fact! You may wonder, “… who or what is a centenarian?”  Webster’s dictionary defines “Centenarian” as a person 100 years old or older.

My mind began to spin with thoughts of all the different things they have accomplished, witnessed and experienced.  My natural curiosity was intrigued by this opportunity to see the world through their eyes, to tap into this resource and learn from them.  I decided to seize the opportunity and talk with them about the meaning of Thanksgiving.

What better setting for a conversation about Thanksgiving then a nice relaxing lunch two days before the big day.  Joining me were centenarians Sara and Theresa. We began by reminiscing about the changes, big and small, that they have witnessed in their lifetimes.  Changes from having ice delivered for the “ice box,” the precursor to the modern refrigerator, to the luxury of long distance or international phone calls.  At one point, Sara happily recounted how she and her husband of 62 years, Herman, met on a blind date in 1947. She lived in Toronto, he lived in Buffalo. That blind date led to a courtship centered on written correspondence.  “A phone call from Toronto to Buffalo was expensive so we had to write to each other. I remember waiting with excitement when the postman would come. To this day, I have every one of those letters,” she proudly stated.

As the conversation moved to Thanksgiving Theresa chatted about how she would spend time with her children in the kitchen and how it brought everyone together.  As people moved away and sadly passed on, it is those memories which bring a smile to her face. Remembering her children, who have grandchildren of their own now, “… as the little hands ‘helping’ to make the meal by getting into EVERYTHING,” she remarked with a loud laugh. “It’s important to slow down and enjoy the people around you!” Sara added.  “As time goes on, no one remembers how well the turkey was cooked or necessarily even the ‘perfect’ atmosphere; people remember being together and laughing.”

Both Sara and Theresa are grateful for the new friends they have met while living in The Amberleigh’s independent living apartments as well as the laughs and fond memories they share of the “good ol days.” Asked if they had advice for those preparing the Thanksgiving meal, with mischievous smiles they were unanimous-“Start with the wine early on!”   Asked about their secrets to making it to 100 years old, Sara asserted, “Keep active. Get up and exercise your body and mind!”

As the Executive Director of The Amberleigh’s campus I bring over 23 years of experience in leading teams that provide Excellence in senior care.  I take pride in creating environments for seniors to thrive. I believe in treating those we care for as people and in slowing the staff down to take the time to listen and learn from this great generation.  It is without question, a great privilege to be in the company of so many wonderful people, it’s an honor I don’t take for granted.

The Amberleigh is a 267 unit Independent, Assisted and Enhanced Assisted Living Campus located on a secluded 23 acre campus right in the heart of the shops and restaurants near the corner of Maple and Transit roads. Our Assisted Living Wing also   includes a 17 unit Memory Care program.  This apartment style living offers seniors the opportunity to enjoy their independence in a community of their peers.

 For more information regarding becoming a resident of The Amberleigh’s campus please call Admissions at 716- 689-4555, stop by 2330 Maple Road, Williamsville, New York or email [email protected] or [email protected]