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Creating a Senior Community

Our Lady of the Lake Elderly Housing was begun as a vision of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters 1992 with the construction of a 5-story building with 68 apartments. Partnering with the U.S Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the facility was dedicated to providing affordable, quality housing for independent seniors (over the age of 62) who were socioeconomically disadvantaged. Since then, with the addition of 3 more 5-story apartment buildings and a central activity center, the sisters have remained devoted to serving seniors most in need.

With 260+ independent seniors living on this expanded campus, one of the most important challenges for management is promoting a community atmosphere. Without this sense of connection, one is left with just an apartment complex where seniors happen to live. Encouraging association among residents and fostering a spirit of belonging is one way that management can enhance the quality of life and make a difference in their seniors’ lives.

Because each senior is unique, not everything works for everybody. Multiple approaches may draw in individuals who find something particularly appealing. Food is probably the most universal; activities and educational offerings will attract those who have a specific interest. If a staff member simply notices a change in appearance (good, bad, or ugly) or is willing to listen to a story for a short while, a lonely senior may be reassured that people still care. That personal touch may inspire enough connection to motivate someone to become involved with some of the offerings available.

At Our Lady of the Lake Elderly Housing, we are fortunate to have an Activity Center in the center of our campus surrounded by our 4 residential buildings. We can plan presentations on topics of interest to seniors, such as Medicare Advantage Plans, Medications, Balance, Healthy Living, Using Technology (computers), Brain Health & Mental Health, Hurricane Preparedness, Hearing Screenings, etc.

Our Activity Center also allows for group fun arrangements: monthly birthday parties (with cake & punch), movie day (with popcorn), arts & crafts, and Bingo are a few. There is even a regular Sunday dinner served monthly (at no cost) by a local church organization.

All of these various activities promote friendship and that sense of belonging that is vital for a full life.  A monthly newsletter delivered to every resident provides the central announcement source to connect each individual with what might attract them to more group involvement and a stronger sense of community. We remain dedicated to the vision of the sisters that the most vulnerable among us deserve a quality environment to enhance a fulfilling quality of life in their later years.

-C.W. (Neil) Nett

C.W. (Neil) Nett is privileged to serve as the Director of Elderly Housing for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Senior Services. Neil has been with Our Lady of the Lake in various capacities, working with the elderly since 1993, previously managing Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, the Lake Health Center, and the American Heart Association Training Center. He also draws on his experiences as a high school teacher and coach, adjunct faculty in Gerontology at Our Lady of the Lake College (now Fran U), and from his position as the Wellness Manager at St. James Place Retirement Community. From 1997-2003, Neil served as the President of the Louisiana chapter of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR).
Neil received his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology in 1990 and previously earned bachelor degrees from LSU in Psychology and Education. His professional certifications include: Clinical Exercise Physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Strength & Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), Balance & Mobility Specialist by the Center for Successful Aging at California State University at Fullerton, Senior Strength Trainer by the International Weightlifting Association (IWA), as well as earning certifications from the American Heart Association as a CPR instructor, ACLS Instructor and as an Instructor-Trainer in both disciplines by the American Heart Association.