Moving to Grand Arbor: A Decision She Has Never Regretted
July 22, 2022
By Danielle Andersen
After Some Major Life Changes, Carol Dittberner Found Just What She Was Looking for in Senior Living
Carol and Dave Dittberner met in 1955 at Concordia Teachers College. They were college sweethearts, but she was three years behind him, and so they learned the rigors of long-distance dating after Dave got a job in St. Paul while Carol worked as a teacher in Lakefield. They married in 1957 and embarked on a happy, satisfying life together.
Then, in 2012, Carol received the news no spouse ever wants to receive – her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Carol and her husband had lived in the Twin Cities for 45 years and had just recently moved to quiet Leaf Valley, where they lived by a lake. She took the diagnosis in stride and lived with her husband one day at a time, caring for him, sometimes around the clock, until he passed away in 2017. When that happened, she found herself at a decision point.
“It was very, very lonely out at the lake in Leaf Valley,” she said during a recent interview.
Not only that, but it was cold in the winter. With those factors in mind, she made a major life decision: moving to Grand Arbor.
Grand Arbor: Senior Living in Alexandria, MN
Grand Arbor is a senior living community in Alexandria, Minnesota. Grand Arbor, owned and operated by Knute Nelson, offers four levels of care: senior living, assisted living, enhanced assisted living, and memory care. This means that residents can make one move, yet age in place for years as their health and lifestyle needs change over time.
Floor plans at Grand Arbor include one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom apartments, and studio units. All units have a private bathroom and kitchen or kitchenette. With a variety of floor plans to choose from, some also offer bonus spaces, walk-in closets, private laundry facilities, and decks.
Common amenities at Grand Arbor are extensive and designed exclusively for caring, comfortable living year-round. They include a general store, club lounge, bistro, hobby shop, restaurant, library and computer lab, salon, activity room, community chapel, and wellness center with a warm water pool. There is also a guest suite for when company visits and a dedicated space for outpatient therapy – where residents and community members can receive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. All spaces are secure, clean, and updated.
‘This Is Better Than Living Alone’
For Carol, the benefits of living at Grand Arbor were felt immediately. She had a safe, warm, and welcoming place to live, plus plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends.
“After I had been here a few months, I decided this is better than living alone,” she said. “Everything is here, and it is wonderful.”
She quickly sold her Leaf Valley home, and never looked back.
At Grand Arbor, Carol has an apartment that she is actively decorating, including a wall full of photos. This warm atmosphere contrasts sharply with her previous life in Leaf Valley.
“When he passed away, I was left alone, and I’d never been alone,” she said. “I was the oldest child and then I got married, and so I’ve always had brothers and sisters or children and a husband.”
Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, she was all by herself, with a life of her own to enjoy.
“And so, I thought, ‘There’s got to be something else in life than just being out here at the lake with all the neighbors gone to Arizona or Florida,’” she said. “I wanted to be here because of grandchildren being in sports and things. And that’s what Dave enjoyed, too.”
A Visit to Nelson Gables Years Ago Led to Living at Grand Arbor
Years ago, Carol said, she and Dave had been to a meeting at Nelson Gables, another Knute Nelson living facility, and the visit stuck with her. Grand Arbor at the time had not been built yet, but she saw the plans and thought it would work as a place to retire.
Moving into Grand Arbor was not exactly a piece of cake, however. Strong demand meant she had to wait several years for a spot to open. “Why not just move into another apartment?” her friends and family asked her. No way, she said – “I’ll stay out here if I can’t go to Grand Arbor. I’ll wait until there’s a spot available for me.” Of course, the wait paid off in the end.
Carol’s first apartment, she soon discovered, was slightly too small, so she quickly moved to her current space, which fits her needs and lifestyle quite nicely.
“I got an apartment that had a little den, and every room was a little bit larger, and it’s perfect, just perfect,” she said. Now, there is room to hang her pictures, sort through belongings, and write stories about the life she and Dave shared together.
Grand Arbor: Valuing What Is Important In Life
Life at Grand Arbor is good, Carol said, because living at the center allows her to prioritize what is most important in her life – namely, wellness. She goes to classes almost every day and does some exercises in her apartment. When she found out she needed some help climbing steps, a personal trainer stepped in almost immediately to offer exercises that increased her mobility and decreased her pain.
On top of that, her days are great, she said. Carol cooks for herself or visits the Pioneer Grill and Bistro whenever she wants a great meal. She attends church on Sundays and Bible classes during the week, and she appreciates the staff and has made plenty of friends with her neighbors. Besides the swimming pool and storage areas, she appreciates the underground parking, the pool table, and the library with its computers.
“I am so thankful that my family likes Grand Arbor,” Carol said. “They feel that I'm safe here and having a good time, and that’s important to me and to them, too. They love to come and visit.”
Is Senior Living Right for You?
Carol found that senior living at Grand Arbor suited her needs well – she even volunteers in the memory care household. To learn if senior living is right for you or a loved one, take our short assessment. To learn more about Grand Arbor and its many benefits, contact us today at (320)-335-8786 or fill out an inquiry form.