“Unexpected health issues early on with my husband made the decision to come here so worth it. We were together. And the help and support here is priceless.”
According to Judy Franken, you never know what twists and turns life will take. You just have to face life head on, have a positive attitude, and ask for help when you need it.
“In 2000, when the Federation first purchased the property that eventually became Lions Gate, they sent out surveys asking what we would be interested in seeing in a senior community,” said Judy. “I filled out the survey, and put down a deposit to get on the wait list. I didn’t think my husband and I would be interested in moving any time soon. We were very happy spending 6 months in New Jersey and 6 months in Florida. We also traveled extensively. But it never hurts to have a back-up plan. Seven years later, when Lions Gate opened their doors in 2007, it suddenly felt like the exact right time to move. I had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and my husband was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia. I knew I didn’t want to burden my children, and moving to Lions Gate meant we had help available 24/7 if we ever needed it. I wasn’t sure what the future held for either one of us, so Lions Gate was the perfect solution.”
Judy and her husband, Richard, were among the first residents to move into Lions Gate, and they immediately bonded with their new neighbors. “All of the original residents became like an extended family,” said Judy. “We have seen each other through a lot. We’ve experienced the joy of becoming great grandparents. We’ve faced health challenges, and come out the other side. A few of us have lost a spouse, but we’ve never felt alone. We’ve always been there for each other, and the staff at Lions Gate has always been there for us. I am so relieved and grateful to have lived here for the last 15 years. So much has changed over time, but the friendships that I have here have really made all the difference.”
Judy is always one to be busy, and has been an active member in so many clubs and committees at Lions Gate. “I worked with Don Fletcher on the Sunshine Committee for many years,” said Judy. “It was a really meaningful way for me to feel connected with the many residents here. The older I get, the more I realize that life is all about connection. Living at Lions Gate gave me so many ways to feel connected. Whether I’m playing Canasta with friends or working on the Resident Council, I really enjoy the conversation and shared experiences this community brings me.”
When Richard passed away two years ago, so many residents came together with Judy to celebrate his life. “There is a beauty to life that I would have missed if I lived alone,” said Judy. “There are so many people here that remember Richard so kindly, and our chats remind me of happy times. Of course my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are happy to talk about Richard, but when friends and the staff at Lions Gate go out of their way to reminisce, that’s a great feeling. I could live alone and be sad, or I can live here and share a happy memory. I’ll choose happy every time!”