Home Discover Senior Living A Day in the Life at Era Living, Part 1

A Day in the Life at Era Living, Part 1

Marla Becker, Executive Director of =Aljoya Mercer Island, Era Living

Marla Becker joins Suzanne to talk a day in the life of an Era Living resident. Era Living has eight senior communities in the Seattle, King County area. Marla is Executive Director of the Aljoya Mercer Island community, located off the I-90 corridor with a beautiful walking garden area, a really comfortable space. It features independent living and assisted living.

Marla talks about what to expect when you move in. Only the stress is removed when you move in — there’s so much to take part in, to do as much or as little as you’d like. Seniors want to be able to do things with their lives, enjoy the things on their bucket list, and not worry about buying groceries, cleaning gutters or mowing their yard. Here they can make connections that help people thrive. It’s a great opportunity for seniors.

A resident ambassador group welcomes new people who move in, sharing experiences with them to make the transition much easier. Having everything taken care of gives them more time and independence to explore things they wouldn’t have tried before, such as art. Residents here have a thirst for life, joy, and activity.

Aljoya Mercer Island has 114 apartments ranging from 700 to 2,000 square feet. Learn all about Era Living at Answers for Elders or at their website.


Suzanne: And welcome back everyone to answers for Elders Radio Network. And we are here with the amazing group at Era Living, which has eight communities throughout Greater Seattle area. King County. And I love spending the time with this group of people and I know that each and every one of you will enjoy meeting them as they come forward. And we are here now talking to Marla Becker, and Marla is the executive director of the Aljoya Mercer Island community, and Marla, before we start, tell us a little bit about your community.

Marla Becker: Well, we sit right off the I-90 Corridor, a beautiful walking space and garden area for our residents and we can walk, our residents can walk all the way from their back door down to Luther Burbank Park or all the way to the bridge deck. And it’s such a comfortable space for everyone, seniors residents with dogs, family members, it’s lovely.

Suzanne: It’s really nice. Now you guys at this location, you do independent living and you do assisted living is that correct?

Marla Becker: Yes, we do independent and assisted living and that’s important.

Suzanne: We’re gonna be talking to one of your residents later in these segments, and she started out in assisted living, and now she’s back being independent. That gives an amazing testament to what you guys do and how you may help help seniors maintain their quality of life. And she’s obviously a testament, and I’m looking forward to sharing her story. So Marla, I’m just gonna ask you a little bit about when somebody moves into senior living or retirement living. Why would somebody want to leave maybe at their current home, if even if they’re independent and move into a senior living community?

Marla Becker: Well, I can’t encourage people enough to think about it while you feel healthy and can enjoy what senior living has to offer. But the conversation that you can and friend you can make and the lack of stress, what can be removed, only the stressful part gets removed from your life when you move to a retirement community. So the the real feel for it is that you can come in and enjoy what that community has to offer and not wait until someone in your family, a close friend or relative has to make that decision for you. And there’s so much to take part in you can be as reclusive as you like in your apartment and then step out into the hallway and the common space and find music and book clubs and exercise and a swimming pool often. And so you have the best of both worlds. No one has to feel like you will constantly be inundated to come and do things that really aren’t your cup of tea. And really just take part in as much as you like or as little as you like.

Suzanne: Moving into senior living sometimes when things are a chore and your life gets to be, your house is getting too much for you where so many of our seniors today they’re sitting there with the family home that they lived in for 50 years and it’s getting harder and harder, harder to maintain and, and while there may be income, you want to do things with your life, you want to have experiences off your bucket list and oftentimes you’re so tired with the day-to-day of taking care of your house, you don’t get to experience life, and that’s the beauty I think of. One of the things we see Era Living is everything’s provided for you. You don’t have to you don’t have to go grocery shopping unless you want to buy things for your own self. It’s not this requirement, or this, this weight on you. And I think those are the things that you provide is that freedom, that sense of freedom that you don’t have. When I first started in this industry about 13 years ago, I realized that our seniors didn’t want to talk about senior living. What we’re finding is now those people that took care of their parents 14 years ago, now they’re at the situation where they’re saying, you know what, I’m not gonna do this to my kids. I’m gonna make the choices. I’m gonna start making choices for me of where I wanna be and what I wanna do, I’m gonna downsize my own house. There’s all kinds of things that are going on that we didn’t see even 10 years ago, Marla. And do you think that that’s true? Are you finding that as well?

Marla Becker: It’s very true. In fact, we even have children of our residents who get on our depositor list because they are seeing how, how much their moms or dads or grandparents have enjoyed senior living. And so even they are saying I won’t do this to my children either. We see that across the board on the generation now, and I think it’s because of what we offer for that lifestyle when people in the community. I mean, oftentimes our residents will say it’s like a cruise ship. I don’t have to think about anything but enjoying myself, enjoy myself every day=, but also to get involved and there’s a lot of things to how many seniors, if they sit alone at home, they don’t have the, the social wellness factor in their life, they don’t have the activities, they don’t get a sense of purpose oftentimes. And so what happens is, is that their mind can decline. There’s can be there’s proven studies that if there’s any sort of tendency towards dementia and Alzheimer’s, it can actually escalate more so by being isolated than it does when you’re in a community and just being around a staff that if there’s a symptom of something, they’re professional and they recognize it.

Suzanne: That is such an amazing opportunity for our seniors today. Obviously, there’s an adjustment period. So, let’s say, as a resonant moves in, what? Tell me a little bit about that.

Marla Becker: So what we, what our residents, have set up is an ambassador group who welcomes new people. So that when you come in, it’s not like you go to the restaurant and you feel like you’re a first day in kindergarten, you have someone with you, someone is coming and invited you to dinner or they invited you to the music that’s happening two days after you move in and sounds wonderful. They’re sharing their experiences with you with you as a new resident. And it, it just makes that transition so much easier. We can have staff greet people and put new names, welcome signs up, but it’s just not the same as the residents themselves, welcoming new people. They’re gonna get to know and eat dinner with and go on outings. And so having that ambassador group is crucial, I think to a good start for anyone.

Suzanne: To start planning for this, those are things to think about. It’s like, how often do we get caught up in day to day life? And we don’t plan for maybe a better quality life moving forward. I just had did an interview with a retirement expert that is non-financial. He talks about so many people out there, they have no idea what they’re gonna do when they retire. They don’t have any sense of plans up front to say I really wanna paint. I wanna have an art studio. I want to do certain things and I think one of the things that’s moving into a community like yours, you have the opportunities to do things that you didn’t do and you have the assistance and, and help and the time. Yes. And the time you’re not wrapped up with having to mow the lawn or hiring next to clean your gutters. And just all the things that go on, it’s like to live simpler and more quality of life I think is really what the option. So, once they’ve moved in life has to be amazing. It’s probably like this thing of like, really, I don’t have to do this anymore. There’s probably this element of, wow. Is, this is almost like, too good to be true. A little bit.

Marla Becker: Right. We do hear that that’s pretty common because people have been used to taking care of themselves for so long and then to have someone make your bed or during the housekeeping week and fresh sheets and towels and people leave little notes on your counter on your front porch area. So the difference is amazing to say, I have more time and now I can explore things I might not have even been interested in for a number of times people will take art classes and say I didn’t think I had any talent. And yeah, we’re so pleased to hang their art because it’s beautiful.

Suzanne: So I love this and there’s such an important piece of it to have the social connections. And I think the reason why your communities are so amazing is there’s an attraction of people that live there that have a thirst for life and a thirst for activities and things like that. And you really see that even with those that have a lot are on the high end of assisted living, they still have that joy and that better quality of life. And I think that’s what’s most important.

Marla Becker: Yes, having that assistance again is what actually gives everyone more independence more time.

Suzanne: Yeah. Tell us about the family members when their loved ones come in and what, what, what do they usually say?

Marla Becker: If you ask family members at Aljoya, they’ll tell you that they just want to come to Lily’s, our restaurant. They say, I’m coming to see my mom, but what’s for dinner tonight?

Suzanne: Yeah. And that’s the great thing too is if you have seen your loved ones and they live in a community like that, you can join them for dinner and with meals and things like that. So that’s the great things. So again, Aljoya is right off of I-90 a little bit. How many apartments do you have?

Marla Becker: We have 114 apartments, everything from about 700 square feet to a little over 2000 square feet. Nice big spacious area, and everything in between.

Suzanne: For people to learn more about Era Living, and I didn’t do this in our first segment, so I’m gonna do it again. How do we reach you on your website?

Marla Becker: Oh, yes. You can actually type in Era living, and our website will come up. If you know one of our community’s names, you can type that in to your search engine, and you’ll get Aljoya Mercer Island. So, either way.

Suzanne: Well, Marla, it’s been such a pleasure to have you on the program and it makes me really want to go have dinner and celebrate with your residents and I hope to do that sometime soon.

Marla Becker: Any time, please let me know, I’d love to have you join us. We would love it. Thank you so much for being with us.

Suzanne: Thank you, Era Living. We’re coming back with another segment, right after this.