Constant Innovation – Celebrating 45 Years Of Senior Living
The Oak Park Arms’ conversion from a luxury hotel to a rental retirement community happened 45 years ago. To celebrate, a ribbon cutting with the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce took place on Thursday, August 17, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Avenue.
Also, to mark the occasion, the Oak Park Arms is offering a special discount on rent. New leases signed before the end of the year will receive $4,500 off rent.
The Oak Park Arms hotel was purchased in the mid-1970s by two friends who wanted to create active retirement living in a community that would be full of life, service, and spirit. The partners recognized the value of The Arms and were on the forefront of a trend.
The building had always featured full apartments with kitchens and dining rooms. It was a natural step to refocus, serve seniors, and build a community around their needs rather than serving visitors.
The Oak Park Arms continues to be owned by those two friends who today remain very involved and deeply committed. When they bought the hotel, there were few senior living communities in the country. There were a few “old people’s homes” mostly run by religious organizations and nursing homes. Period.
They thought, “There’s got to be a better way to care for our older adults.”
So, they experimented. Their vision was groundbreaking, and they were open to trying new programs and ideas. Ultimately, the Oak Park Arms was so well known for advances and originality, it became the training ground for senior living managers from more than a dozen communities across the country.
“The Oak Park Arms was like the Hamburger U for senior living,” said Manny Kramer, one of the managing partners of the Oak Park Arms. “As we developed more properties into senior living communities, we always sent the staff to the Oak Park Arms to learn about the innovations taking place. Important, too, was listening to the residents and collaborating to serve their needs.”
Today, the two friends and staff are still innovating with as much enthusiasm as 45 years ago. The Oak Park Arms is the only senior living community in the country that has an Adult Day Care for older adults, a preschool for children aged three to five, and an “Academy for Seniors” for ongoing education, all under one roof.
The Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care program invites participants to spend their daytime hours at The Arms and then return home in the evenings. The program offers personalized assistance with activities of daily living including medication reminders and meals. A benefit to adult caretakers, the Adult Day Care program participants need and deserve stimulation, respectful care, and companionship.
In August 2019, the residents of the Oak Park Arms welcomed the Kindness Creators Intergenerational Program, a pioneering preschool for children aged three to five. Housed within the Oak Park Arms, many senior residents volunteer at the preschool and interact with the children during organized activities.
“Intergenerational activities give most older people feelings of accomplishment and success, and they show elders that they are valued as individuals,” said Moses Williams, executive director of the Oak Park Arms. “Seniors say they don’t think about their age when in the company of kids. The youngsters bring a sense of vitality and fun, and the focus shifts to living in the moment. This volunteerism also satisfies a drive to give to others in a meaningful way.”
The Academy for Seniors satisfies the desire and need to learn. A few years ago, Williams created an activity called the “Philosophers’ Roundtable.” It was very successful, and participants asked for more.
“Their thirst for knowledge was so compelling,” Williams said. “I started thinking about offering other topics. Brainstorming with residents and other staff members and a year’s worth of planning led to the Academy for Seniors. Lecture facilitators and residents present information, and seniors share thoughts, experience, and insights on a variety of topics such as mythology, travel, and history.”
Innovation and improvement are a constant.
“We offer so many options for seniors, whether it’s dining, learning, fitness, care, or camaraderie,” Williams said. “We will never stop innovating to provide the most person-centered care and the most engaged life for seniors in Oak Park.”
For more information call 708-386-4040.
About the Oak Park Arms
The Oak Park Arms Senior Living is a rental retirement community which provides senior housing in the form of independent living and assisted living apartments. Additional services include respite care and an award-winning adult day care program. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay.