Dick Rooney smiles broadly when asked about his recent move from Annapolis. The 82-year-old retired small-business owner and his wife, Pat Roche, recently relocated to the Grove at Stapleton, a new apartment complex for tenants above the age of 55. While known as a good area for young families to raise children, NE Denver is also home to a growing number of older adults.
“We’re really excited to be here,” says Rooney. “It’s thrilling to meet new people and start fresh again. It’s like being a freshman at college.”
At apartments such as The Grove and Overture (formerly the Greenways) in Stapleton, tenants age 55 and up realize the pluses of living in a place where they worry less about home maintenance and participate in activities that range from gardening, yoga and cycling to community volunteer work. Some of the residents come from Colorado, while others hail from all over the country and the world.
“The majority of older adults move to be closer to their children and grandkids,” says Jennifer Otavsky, assistant community director at The Grove. “They really like the atmosphere and enjoy being where everyone has a lot in common with them. They make a lot of friends here and they enjoy the convenience of being close to restaurants and shops and they take the time to walk to places. People are staying healthier longer now and aging differently.”
Martha Barker, a retired music professor from Indiana, lives in a two-bedroom apartment at Overture in Stapleton. She recently lost sight in her left eye following a treatment for macular degeneration prior to her move to Denver, but her condition is improving.
“The management is really nice and kind here,” Barker says of her living situation. “It makes a big difference when people take the time to talk to you and get involved in your life. I don’t look my age. I’m on no medications and thanks to good nutrition I might get my sight back. I’ve been working on my health by eating right since I was 29. I’m a little older than that now, but I’m still going strong.”
An accomplished violinist, Barker also teaches piano. “I’m going to be playing at the Montview Presbyterian Church soon. I met with their choir director and will be working with the organist there this coming fall. I’m so excited about being able to keep my music program going.”
Barker says she is looking for more music students and plans to offer violin and piano lessons at the home of her daughter, who lives just a few blocks away from her apartment.
“I like being so near to my grandkids,” she says, pointing out that a few of her friends who are grandparents provide daycare for their families, now that many households have two working parents.
According to Cathy Swainson, the community manager at Overture, residents at the complex enjoy a broad range of activities including movie nights, a walking club, fitness instruction, cooking classes, brain teasers, craft and jewelry making, listening to educational speakers, building scrap and memory books, playing Wii games, a Mahjong group and all kinds of card and domino games. “Some of our tenants work full time and many are retired, but they all keep very active,” Swainson says.
Otavsky says most tenants are in their early 70s, but there are also a number of people in their 50s and 60s. “We enjoy activities that our members suggest and organize. Some are ongoing, while others are just one-time events. We meet for museum tours, dining, hiking, art lessons, movies, genealogy study, and all kinds of stuff. If you’re over 55 you fit in perfectly. Our residents say they feel so much better being here because they socialize where they used to be more solitary. It takes people about a month to acclimate. They soon get to know one another and they spend time together outside the complex all the time. They love the access to the light rail and to downtown and the open space, which is nice and walkable.”
For more information about the Grove and Overture, visit www.groveatstapleton.com and www.liveoverture.com/denver.