Ballet Revives Love For Dancing at Pomperaug Woods

seniors practicing ballet with an instructor at Pomperaug Woods

Seniors Discovering New Ways to Stay Active

When 24-year-old Cassie Haley joined the staff at Pomperaug Woods senior living community in Southbury, she knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of the residents. In the three years since joining Pomperaug Woods as the administrator of the Health Center, she’s met hundreds of residents. She’s also made many other connections as the ballet instructor at the community, a passion she’s had since she was a child.

“Through my studies, I know the difference dance can make in the lives of residents in terms of physical health, as well as those experiencing dementia,” said Haley, who’s a classically trained ballerina. “Ballet is a total mind and body workout.”

Every month, Cassie demonstrates the ballet positions to groups of residents, ready to learn new skills and enhance old ones. Cassie instructs two different ballet classes – a standing and sitting – with classical music.

Recent studies show clear mental and physical health benefits of playing music and dancing for seniors, including those suffering from dementia. Resident Debby Cornwell has been taking the class since it started. She says she’s benefited from the exercise and it brings back memories from her childhood.

“I enjoy moving to the music,” said Debby. “Dancing has always come easy to me. It brings back memories of when I learned to dance with my father when I was a child.”

While Debby has been taking dance lessons most of her life, other residents are beginning to learn the different ballet positions.

“That’s what so great about this class,” Haley said. “Everyone can be at a different skill level, but get a good workout. Ballet works not only your arms and legs, but also your mind.”

The class is so unique to the area that the Connecticut Post published an article about the popular Pomperaug Woods activity. The ballet classes offered at the community are just one of the many activities and amenities provided at Pomperaug Woods. Debby says this ballet class and the different wellness activities, along with LifeCare®, helped her make the decision to move into the community.

“I looked at several senior living communities around the area,” Debby said. “Pomperaug Woods was a great fit for me. I wish I would have done this sooner.”


Cassie Haley leads a ballet class for Pomperaug Woods residents Joseph Longo, 79, and Debby Cornwell, 78.

Photo: Carol Kaliff, News-Times. 

seniors practicing ballet with an instructor at Pomperaug Woods

10th Anniversary of Pomperaug Woods Art Show Celebrates Impact Across the State

seniors smiling with a painting

What started as a simple idea to showcase artwork of adults age 70+ and encourage artistic endeavors by seniors has become an annual staple across the state. Over its 10 years as Connecticut’s only senior juried art show, “The Art of Experience” at Pomperaug Woods has seen more than 500 seniors from 100+ towns submit more than 2,200 pieces of artwork.

“It’s more than tripled in size from the first year,” says Lisa Huebenthal, director of community life services at Pomperaug Woods senior living community. “It’s extraordinary and heartwarming to see how far it’s come, and level of prestige it has reached, from the entries all the way to the judges we have.”

More than 120 seniors from 45 towns submitted 229 pieces of artwork in the four categories for this year’s show: painting, drawing, photography and sculpture. Judging takes place in late August, then the exhibit open to the public from September 22-24 at Pomperaug Woods. Award-winning pieces will then be displayed at the Mattatuck Museum from October 8 – November 19.

Judges at the “The Art of Experience” 2017 include notable artists Zufar Bikbov, David Merrill, Michele Murelli and John Rohlfing.

Zufar Bikbov was born in Russia and his interest in painting came early in life. Influenced by his father, Bikbov excelled at plein air painting and landscapes. After graduating cum laude from Zelenodolsk Art School, he decided to support his love of painting and answer his calling to help people by pursuing a medical career. After earning his degree in medicine and moving to the United States, Bikbov has continued his artwork in national level competitions, winning numerous awards. Recent honors include the Founders’ Award / Best in Show at the 2017 Spring Juried Show at Kent Art Association in Kent, CT; Irvine Museum Award at the 2017 Laguna Plein Air Invitational XVIII in Laguna Beach, CA; and the Atlanta History Center Insiders Plein Air Award at Atlanta-Olmsted Plein Air 2017, in Atlanta, GA.

David Merrill was born and raised in rural Connecticut, and received his art training at the Famous Artist School in Westport, CT, and Western Connecticut State College in Danbury, CT. His paintings are inspired by his love for New England, the rapidly changing scenery and preserving links with the past. Merrill’s mural work is featured in town halls, libraries, museums, schools, historical societies and private residences, including the home of celebrity Robert Redford. Numerous awards include The Medal of Merit, Arthur Hooten Memorial Award, 7 Best in Shows, 8 First Prizes, and 5 Audience Choice Awards in exhibitions throughout New England.

Michele Murelli, a Torrington native, showed her affinity for art at an early age. Earning a B.A. in psychology from Albertus Magnus College, she went on to earn a M.A. in expressive art therapy from Lesley College in Cambridge, MA. She balances her time as an art therapist and certified teacher for the Wellspring Foundation, while working as an oil painter and mixed media artist. Her paintings express her passion for the countryside of her native Litchfield County, the Cape and travels abroad. Murelli’s mixed media reflect stories from her nine years teaching art to at-risk youth. In 2011, she received the Golden Apple Award for Teaching from the Connecticut Association of Special Education Facilities.

John Rohlfing is an art professor at Post University in Waterbury, CT, and an award-winning artist. His ceramic vessels have shown and won awards nationally and internationally, including competitions in Korea and Japan. His work has been on exhibit at dozens of notable galleries across the United States. Rohlfing’s ceramics use hand-building methods and explore the idea of the container as a metaphor. His vessels and painting express an interest in landscape, organic abstraction, Cubism and Constructivism.

“The judges are tremendous artists and have a keen eye for creative and beautiful artwork,” says Huebenthal. “It’s an honor to have them at our competition.”

Among various activities offered to residents at Pomperaug Woods, art-related classes and events are a significant part of the culture. “All the art, performing arts and engaging activities at our community are a big draw for older adults in the area to move here,” says Tara Justus, marketing director at the senior living community. “And the health benefits of art for older adults are extraordinary.”

A 2015 study from the Mayo Clinic on older adults’ involvement in social, physical and intellectual activities found that older adults involved in artistic activity had the greatest protective effect against cognitive impairment later in life.

From health benefits to the pure beauty of the artwork itself, the 10th Annual Senior Juried Art Show is sure to draw a crowd. Pomperaug Woods looks forward to seeing you and who will take home this year’s Tommie Davis Award for Best in Show.

Following a VIP reception and opening on September 22, the public exhibit will take place September 23 and 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Pomperaug Woods.

Click here to learn more about the activities and lifestyle at Pomperaug Woods.

Tax Day: How You Can Save Big at Pomperaug Woods

close up photo of senior filling out taxes form

Did you know there are certain “tax day” financial benefits to moving into a LifeCare® community like Pomperaug Woods? Certified Financial Planner™ Brad Breeding breaks down some costs, questions and concerns for you below.

If you’re interested in learning more about LifeCare, Brad Breeding joins us here at Pomperaug Woods on May 17. 

Q: Are there certain medical expenses in a retirement community that are tax-deductible?

A: There are two aspects involved in answering this question. First, there are some Continuing Care Retirement Communities where a resident living independently – i.e. not receiving care services – may be able to deduct a portion of their monthly fee for what essentially amounts to a “pre-payment” of future care expenses. A sizable portion of the entry fee may also be deductible for the same purpose.

There are certain types of residency contracts, typically referred to as LifeCare, where such a deduction is more applicable than it would be with other CCRC contract types. When this type of deduction is possible, the community will send out a letter to residents each year describing the deductible amount, but residents should still consult with a tax professional to determine if they qualify.

The other aspect is when a resident receives and pays for care services. Again, it depends on the type of residency contract. Whether living in a CCRC or not, people are generally able to deduct eligible medical expenses that exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. See IRS Publication 502 for more detail.

Q: Monetary decisions should contribute in choosing a retirement community. What are some of the most popular considerations seniors should know about?

A: In addition to possible tax deductions described previously, it’s important to understand exactly what is covered under the monthly fee at the retirement community, and what’s extra. With this information, a person is in a better position to do a proper analysis of what they’re paying to live at home, compared to what it will cost them to live in a retirement community. Some people don’t stop to think about the fact that much of what they’re paying for at home will be covered under their monthly fee at the retirement community, so the cost of moving to the retirement community may be less than they expected once they factor this in.

Also, it’s important to understand if and how fees could adjust over time, particularly when
care-related services are received. This gets back to the point about the type of residency contract. Some contracts (LifeCare) include all care services in the monthly fee, which may be thought of as an all-inclusive contract. Others (e.g., Fee-for-Service) require residents to pay the full cost of such services, possibly in addition to the monthly fee. In a sense, it comes down to pay now or pay later, but understanding specifically how the contract works helps avoid any surprises.

Q: You’ve met seniors across the country, and have heard their concerns when it comes to choosing a retirement community. What are the most common questions you hear and the best advice you can give to them?

A: The most popular question I get is whether someone can use their long-term care insurance in a CCRC. The answer is yes, but there may be limits on how much of it can be used. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this also depends somewhat on the type of CCRC contract. With a LifeCare contract there may be only a certain portion of the monthly fee that’s a reimbursable long-term care expense. However, with a fee-for-service contract – where the resident pays the full cost for care services – a long-term care policy will typically cover these expenses up to the policy limit. The policy can be quite beneficial under either scenario. Under a LifeCare contract, a resident could conceivably pay less each month than they paid before receiving care services, once you factor in the long-term care coverage.

Regarding long-term care insurance, it’s important to also know how your policy classifies a continuing care retirement community, or even if it defines it at all. If the policy makes no mention of continuing care retirement communities, it’s advisable to speak with a representative of the insurance company to find out if there would be any restrictions. And you may even want to have it in writing.

Q: You’ll be at Pomperaug Woods for a speaking event on Wednesday, May 17. What do you hope will be the biggest take away from this event?

A: I hope the biggest take away is that there’s no single solution that’s right for everyone. Understanding the options, thinking through various scenarios and planning, is so important to avoid difficult and often costly situations in the future. Far too many families don’t do this, and it can lead to some tough decisions.

Variety Show in the News

facility facade with lawn and trees

Pomperaug Woods Variety Show was featured in the Heritage Villager on Friday, July 1, 2016.

Pomperaug Woods annual Variety Show entitled “A Toast to the Woods 2016” included Southbury seniors showing off their talents by lip syncing, dancing, acting, and wearing festive costumes.

Click here for the entire article.

299 Art Submissions Representing 162 Artists From 64 Towns Across Connecticut

art submission of a beach

Silver Sands
This beautiful acrylic painting won the Tommie Davis Award for Jeffrey A. Sells, age 72, of Woodbridge, Connecticut.

For the 8th consecutive year, Pomperaug Woods retirement community is proud to host “The Art of Experience” — Connecticut’s only Senior Juried Art Show. Judging is now complete and prizes have been awarded to the senior artists in each category — painting, drawing, sculpture and photography.

Winners ranging in age from 72 to 98 years old!

“We had 58 new artists entered for the first time,” says Lisa Huebenthal, Program Director for Pomperaug Woods. “The show gets more popular every year, and the quality of work is just amazing.”

Each year, one artist receives the prized Tommie Davis Award — which is considered the “best of show.” Tommie was an award-winning photographer, as well as a gifted painter and sculptress. As a long-time resident of Pomperaug Woods, she was very involved in hosting the annual Senior Juried Art Show. Now, Pomperaug Woods presents this award in Tommie’s memory because of her generous donation, earmarked for the arts, to the community’s Founders Fund.

“The Art of Experience” Show takes place September 26-27 at Pomperaug Woods. The public is invited to view the winning artwork which will be exhibited October 4 to November 15 at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.

Be Practical: See How Pomperaug Woods Offers More Financial Flexibility than Ever

When you think about your retirement options for the future, value and practicality are likely at the top of your list. In which case, you might be pleasantly surprised by the options available to you now at Pomperaug Woods —the only not-for-profit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Southbury.

“You get great tax deductions, and the costs are much lower than you expect when you move in.”
~Sherman London, Pomperaug Woods resident

Pomperaug Woods now offers four financial options—giving you the flexibility to customize your plan depending on what is most important to you.

Affordable: Maybe you’re interested in a CCRC, but worried about the size of the entrance fee. If so, you’ll be interested in two specific options at Pomperaug Woods with surprisingly low entrance fees. One option even lets you pay for health services only when used—helping to keep your monthly fees down.
Practical: Are you primarily interested in having a smart plan to protect against the cost of future health care? In that case, you’ll want to look into one of our LifeCare options.

Join us for a personal consultation to learn more about our four financial options.

Call 203-936-8985 to let us know when you would like to visit.

We’ll treat you to lunch and help you find out if there’s a plan that fits your specific needs. You’ll also have an opportunity to visit with residents and ask about their experiences at Pomperaug Woods.

Of course, there’s no obligation whatsoever. It’s just a great (and delicious!) way to explore the possibilities of a CCRC plan at Pomperaug Woods.

Excellence in healthcare for Southbury-area seniors and Boomers

With our Connecticut Senior Juried Art Show and weekly outings in the community, we do our best to be an integral part of the greater Southbury community. We enjoy strong ties with local businesses, cultural organizations and educational institutions.

Our most important contribution to the region, though, is our exceptional, Medicare-certified Health Center. We’ve worked really hard to achieve our 5-star rating and are proud to offer a full range of senior living healthcare options to our community members and Southbury-area residents alike.

Yes, you read that right. The Pomperaug Woods Health Center offers 5-star health care services to the public!

You don’t have to be a resident of Pomperaug Woods to benefit from superior healthcare services provided by one of U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 top retirement communities in Connecticut.

We care about our Southbury friends as much as our own residents. That’s a big reason why our physicians are happy to work with patients and their family members to develop personalized care plans. We practice The Art of Living, our comprehensive wellness program designed to keep our patients active, challenged and independent for as long as possible.

Our doors are open—figuratively speaking—24×7, and skilled medical professionals deliver the full spectrum of senior-focused, person-centered healthcare options including:

  • Medical services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Respite care services
  • Rehabilitation services

Our Health Center hardly feels like your typical “hospital.” Take a look around at our full-service dining room, grab a book from the library or enjoy a walk through one of our two gated gardens; there’s something for everybody.

Just have to see it for yourself? Give us a call to set up your private tour of our Health Center and independent living community. Don’t forget to ask about financing options while you’re here. We can’t wait to see you!

There are no bad questions about senior living!

Our very own Marketing Director, Hillary Winkelmann, led a fun senior living event for potential residents this week at the Pinnacle Restaurant at Somers Pointe Country Club in Somers, NY. While the guests dined, Hillary provided them with some information about senior living options as well as our community and then opened it up for questions and answers. In case you missed it, here are some of the questions with Hillary’s replies.

Q: Can I bring my dog or cat with me if I move to Pomperaug Woods?

A: Of course! We understand that pets are family. We have many residents who brought their pets with them to Pomperaug Woods. Our resident dogs enjoy their walks around the community and love to play outside even when it is snowy. We know a new home wouldn’t feel the same without your pet which is why we welcome our new residents and their pets.

Q: What activities do you offer within the community?

A: We offer so many fun activities for our residents. In fact, we hear all the time that our residents’ calendars are busier now than they were before they moved to Pomperaug Woods! We hold art classes and current event seminars which are consistently standing room only. Residents enjoy a variety of exercise classes, play billiards or attend lectures on various topics. Our residents also enjoy a happy hour on Fridays and afternoon teas throughout the week. We’re open to trying new things and, in fact, just held a fun variety show put on by the residents. Check out our Facebook page to see pictures. Our monthly classical concert series is also quite popular. We’re proud to host the annual Connecticut Senior Juried Art Show every September. Artists and visitors from across the state attend and we’re thrilled to have them! And of course, we offer off-site activities to various parts of the region. In July, a group of our residents will be visiting the Harvard Art Museums.

Q.: How much does it cost?

A.: Well, that varies, of course. Our community offers a variety of floor plans that include studio apartments, one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans. Once you decide to actually move in, there is a one-time entry fee as well as a monthly service fee that is all-inclusive. Again, it’s challenging to provide cost without some additional information. But remember we are a Life Care community which means you will receive access to multiple levels of health services at a predictable rate. There is also a significant medical tax deduction that our residents can take on both their entry and monthly fees.

Q: Tell me more about Life Care. What is it exactly?

A: Life Care allows our residents to have access to higher levels of care for a predictable monthly fee. It is sort of our “health insurance in action” program. Included in the monthly service fee is on-site access to our Medicare-certified health center should you need it, or in-home assistance as needed. Having all levels of care available helps give our residents and their families peace of mind, especially if unexpected health concerns come up. Knowing that residents don’t have to leave the community to receive the health services they may need is a huge relief for both our residents and their families. We’re very happy to be able to offer this to our community.

Q: Why is your Health Center better than others we’ve looked at?

A: Our Health Center is on-site and all of the care that we provide there is person-centered. We’re Medicare-certified, which means you won’t have to waive your right for Medicare coverage. Our Health Center offers short-term rehabilitation and surgery recuperation as well as long-term skilled nursing care. And as mentioned, our campus—including the Health Center—is designed for our residents’ maximum comfort. Our staff is professional and friendly and truly is part of the Pomperaug Woods Family. Our Health Center was also given a 5-star rating by U.S. News and World Reports.

Q: How does long-term care insurance factor in to living at Pomperaug Woods?

A: If you have a long-term care insurance policy, it can certainly help if you need a higher level of care. When you come in for a planning meeting, we can discuss the details of your policy and how it would play a role in your residency at Pomperaug Woods.

Q: Can my family visit for a weekend here and there?

A: Yes, we encourage family and friends to visit any time. We are able to provide rollaway beds, or we have guest apartments that are available by reservation for an additional fee.

Learn how we deliver peace of mind to resident Elinor Goettel and her family

When Elinor Goettel joined the Pomperaug family in December of 2010, she knew she was getting the best. After all, her daughter, a registered nurse working in Thailand, did more than her due diligence when it came to research.

“My daughter was blown away with Pomperaug Woods,” said Goettel. “She did lots of research and looked around quite a bit, but Pomperaug Woods was just wonderful.”

Elinor was initially concerned that moving to an independent living community would mean big changes in the way she lived her life.

Since moving in, Goettel has nothing but glowing reviews for Pomperaug Woods. Between the beautiful property to the variety of activities, Pomperaug has it all.

“I just absolutely love it,” raves Goettel. “ It’s just wonderful here. I love how I live a completely independent life, but if I were to ever need help there are people here ready and waiting.”

And now, Elinor’s daughter has complete peace of mind that her mom will be well cared for half a world away.

Interested in seeing what else Pomperaug Woods has to offer? Like us on Facebook to find out more!

Spring has Sprung!

After a long, cold winter, there’s nothing like the sight of green grass and sunshine. Here at Pomperaug Woods we welcome springtime with an array of different activities right here on the property and around the community.

So get up and get outdoors with a few of these springtime activities:

Heritage Village Country Club Golf Course: Time to bring the golf clubs out of storage and onto the course. Gorgeous tree-lined greens await you. Feeling a little rusty after a long winter? No problem! An onsite pro is ready to give you a friendly refresher.
Community Gardens: Don’t feel like leaving the property? Again, no problem. Pomperaug Woods offers plenty of walking paths with gazebos and benches along the way. Our very own Mary Millet planted two community gardens for residents to enjoy.
Ballroom Dancing: Get your dancing shoes on! Whether you’re a seasoned professional or learning the basics, this is the class for you. On Fridays from May 15 through June 5 dance your way down to Southbury Parks and Recreation to show off your moves.
Heritage Health Club: The Heritage Health Club is your one-stop shop for cardio, strength training, cycling. You name it, Heritage Health Club has it! When you’re done, enjoy the relaxing day spa.

The best part? This is only a sampling of what Pomperaug Woods and Southbury has to offer. Explore a little! Who knows what else you’ll find?

To find out more about the events and opportunities you could share with Pomperaug Woods neighbors, like us on Facebook.