During what has been a difficult and frightening time, she has felt safe and cared for. Gail Barthel of Lexington Square in Lombard said that she has been grateful to be living in the senior living community for “every single second” over the past two and a half years. This has especially been the case during COVID. “It has been the best decision I ever made,” she said.

Barthel moved to Lexington from her home in Tinley Park to be closer to her children after her husband’s death. She investigated several retirement communities in the west suburban area. “When I walked through the doors, I knew immediately that Lexington was it! It was so bright with its beautiful atrium, and people were sitting around and laughing. It was so vibrant,” she said, adding that the apartments “are at least 200 square feet bigger than any others that I saw. They’re perfect.” Barthel stressed that her first impression has remained her lasting experience.

The staff at Lexington, she said, was “so helpful, and when I told them I’d decided to make the move here, they were clapping and laughing and were so welcoming. They made me feel important, and that mattered to me. It cinched the deal. The staff makes you feel like they’ve been waiting for you to live here. And the people living here are so caring. I immediately loved having them as my new family.”

Barthel acknowledged that dealing with the impact of COVID-19 over the past year has not been fun. She stressed, however, “No one has been having fun anywhere; in Illinois, in the U.S., in the world. The difference is that I felt so protected. They worked hard to keep us safe. We had frequent COVID tests, the building was constantly being cleaned and sterilized, everyone was cautious, and we were among the first residents in Illinois to be vaccinated. The staff bends over backward to make life happy. The fact is that I remained safe, and things will be perfect again.

Barthel said that while she missed seeing her family in person during COVID-19, she frequently Facetimed or Zoomed with them. In the meantime, she said, she felt good with her “second family,” the staff and residents at Lexington. “Everyone worked hard to keep us engaged,” she said, explaining that in addition to having meals delivered to their apartments and regular housekeeping and laundry service, the staff would “hold a silly dance party every week for us to watch from the atrium; just to entertain us and break up the monotony.” Safe, socially distanced activities continued, and there was programming made available within the residents’ apartments on the in-house television station.

Barthel, who likes to be busy, said she has the opportunity but not the obligation to do so at Lexington. “You can do as much or as little as you’d like. I am involved with everything because that’s how I like to be. I run the Square Deal resale shop, I’m a Lexington ambassador welcoming new residents, I’m secretary of the resident council, I participate in Wii bowling, and I run trivia sessions every week. It gives me a purpose to get up in the morning. I love to put a smile on my fellow residents’ faces.”

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