Life at Meth-Wick

Employee Spotlight: Julie Farmer


Julie Farmer is the kind of person you like on sight. Her unmistakable warmth and energy draws people in and her conversations are filled with humor and compassion. She’s the sales manager for independent living residences at Meth-Wick where her charismatic personality works wonders battling the misperceptions prospective residents bring to campus.

“Seniors today are more active and independent than ever before but they don’t think of senior living communities as places where they can be active and independent. It’s my job to open their eyes.”

Julie spends her time with prospective residents listening to their goals and plans, sharing information about Meth-Wick’s styles of living, and answering questions about what this move will mean for their lives. It’s a good gig for someone who has spent her career taking care of the people around her.

Julie studied community health education and gerontology during her undergrad years and worked at a retirement community and a hospital in Chicago before earning her MBA in hospital and health administration. After completing her graduate degree, she took an opportunity as an administrative resident in health administration at a medical center in New Orleans and later in Dallas. She soon started her family and spent several years raising her three children and teaching yoga classes. During that time, she got connected with Chris Madsen, a sales manager at Meth-Wick.

“Chris saw my resume and said Meth-Wick could be a perfect fit for me,” Julie said. “I had young kids at the time so it wasn’t the right moment — but we kept in touch. Ten years later, Chris reached out to let me know she was retiring and she hadn’t forgotten my resume. At that point, my kids were grown and I was ready for a new challenge.”

And Julie has tackled that new challenge head on. Seniors today are different than the seniors she worked with early in her career. She describes the baby boomers she meets as well-informed and assertive. They’re excited about their future and looking forward to the experiences they plan to have in retirement.

“When I talk to potential residents, they are often looking for a paradigm shift,” Julie shared. “Many of them had to make tough decisions when their parents got older and fell ill, moving them to care facilities and selling their houses. They don’t want that traumatic situation for themselves or their children. Most seniors today are healthy and independent and want to stay that way as long as they can — I get to show them how Meth-Wick makes that possible.”

Just as Julie describes, living independently at Meth-Wick truly is independent. When a resident moves into their Meth-Wick home, they’re in control. They get to select the modifications that will be made in their residence and Meth-Wick puts all the changes in place before move-in day. They even get to choose their cable provider. There’s no one to check in with when they come and go from campus and no one to tell them where they have to eat dinner that night. They join a community of peers with similar goals and plans for this stage of their lives. It’s living the life they want to live, without all the yardwork and maintenance that comes with owning a home.

To Julie, her job is about more than helping people find their dream homes, it’s about showing them a community where they can build their best lives. It’s a pretty good way to spend a day in the office.

Robin’s Nest: Making Meth-Wick Unique

If there’s one thing that makes Meth-Wick unique, it’s the variety of lifestyles residents live on our campus.

Those new to Meth-Wick are often surprised by the mix. We offer five different styles of living: Independent Living, Independence Plus, Assisted Living for Physical Needs, Assisted Living for Memory Needs, and Nursing Care. Some residents live with their spouse in a newly-built single-family home while others take advantage of assisted living services in a spacious, private apartment.

On a 65-acre campus like ours, there’s room for different kinds of lifestyles to exist in harmony with each other, all benefiting from Meth-Wick’s 57 years of experience in senior living.

That’s why we’re considered a Life Plan Community, rather than a care facility. The phrase “care facility” conjures up images you might associate with your parents or grandparents, but certainly not with yourself. A Life Plan Community, on the other hand, is a vibrant place that offers older adults a range of residential options along with opportunities for personal, creative and educational exploration.

In a Life Plan Community like we have at Meth-Wick, residents get to live the life they have been planning for years. They have access to our expansive wellness program, from yoga classes to walking trails to specially-fitted recumbent bicycles. They can attend on-campus lectures and join community groups. And, they have access to different levels of assistance should their health needs change over the years.

We’re proud that older adults from all different walks of life have chosen to be a part of the Meth-Wick story. It’s what will continue to make our community unique for many years to come.

WelTracs: Making Wellness a Priority

Shantel Phipps stays busy on Meth-Wick’s campus. As a Successful Aging Coordinator, she personally developed and now implements the health and wellness program WelTracs.

Once a new resident is accepted into independent living at Meth-Wick, the WelTracs journey begins. They fill out a resource analysis form as part of their admission and then participate in an assessment with Shantel.

“At Meth-Wick, we want our residents to live their best lives,” says Shantel. “WelTracs allows us to get to know residents right as they join our community. That way we can help them navigate all the resources available to them in their new home.”

The main purpose of WelTracs is to build a successful aging plan for each resident living independently at Meth-Wick. Shantel helps residents build their plans by discussing their wellness goals.

Meth-Wick is filled with wellness resources. Shantel helps residents sort through the classes, gym equipment, and outings to determine what aspects best support your plan. Rather than bouncing between classes and events, she matches programs with each resident’s needs and interests. This method supports a better range, quality and depth of our wellness services.

The program also serves an additional purpose for our staff. It allows us to personalize our wellness and recreation programming for our current residents by providing a database of their interests. We are able to make informed decisions about the classes we offer, the speakers we bring in, and the events we host.

WelTracs started three years ago and currently has 100% participation. Each year, Shantel meets with residents to review and update their goals. She makes clear that WelTracs doesn’t require residents to meet their goals, it simply provides them the resources to do so.

At Meth-Wick, wellness doesn’t just mean physical wellbeing. It’s a whole person wellness model, which emphasizes six dimensions: spiritual, physical, vocational, emotional, intellectual and social wellness. Many residents make traditional goals for physical wellness, like attending fitness classes and using the campus walking trail. But they also set goals for building strong relationships with their grandchildren, joining a book club, or staying committed to their volunteering.

You’ve got a plan for how to spend this chapter of your life and Meth-Wick has the right resources to keep you well. Learn more about what WelTracs can do for you by contacting our Successful Aging Coordinator Shantel Phipps today.

3 Ways Community Living Can Make You Happier

Older adults have dozens of choices for where and how to spend their retirement years. Some of those choices are limited by ability but, for the most part, today’s older adults are largely healthy and living independently. So, if you’re in good health and capable of staying in your own home, why make a change? What would you gain from community living?

  1. Time

By the time you’re ready to retire, you’ll have spent thousands of hours mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow and cleaning out gutters. It takes a lot of time to maintain a home – time that could be spent enjoying the freedom offered by retirement. Older adults enjoying community living don’t have to worry about home upkeep. They can even elect to have their laundry and housekeeping done for them as well. Use that time doing things you really care about like spending time with friends and family, volunteering, traveling or cooking.

  1. Money

It doesn’t just take time to maintain a home. Issues with the water heater, faulty buttons on the microwave, burned out lightbulbs on the front porch — all unexpected headaches that come with homeownership. Senior living communities like Meth-Wick offer a variety of independent living options such as apartments, condos, townhomes and single-family homes that work with different lifestyles. Each living option includes things like appliance maintenance, transportation, and exercise classes so you can live the life you want without having to worry about your budget.

  1. Community

With age, social circles inevitably shrink as family and friends move away and driving gets more difficult. But community living keeps older adults active and connected with a peer group close at hand. Studies show that stronger social connections lead to happier and healthier lives for older adults. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine questioned a group of SuperAgers, men and women in their 90s and 100s who have exceptional memories, about their lifestyle and habits. Genetics, diet and exercise obviously play a role but where the SuperAgers stood out was “the degree to which they reported having satisfying, warm, trusting relationships.” Turns out having a good group of friends is as good for the brain as it is for the soul.

Don’t think of senior living communities like retirement homes. Think of them like big neighborhoods where everyone has had a lot of the same experiences you’ve had. It’s not about bingo and bus trips – it’s about living the life you’ve been saving for and planning for decades. That life looks different to everyone. Some people want to spend half the year traveling and like knowing their home is protected by staff 24 hours a day. Others are looking for like-minded people to share new experiences with, like taking in local art and culture or trying a new exercise class.

Whatever life you want to live, there’s a community here for you at Meth-Wick.

Travel Tips for Seniors

You’ve spent many years working hard and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Many older adults are taking those vacations they’ve dreamed of for years – visiting family scattered across the country, traveling to new parts of the world, and sometimes just relaxing on a beach somewhere warm.

Before you skip town for your next adventure, travel smart by keeping these tips in mind.

  1. Pack your medicine and medical supplies in your carry-on luggage.

If you’ve already taken your prescriptions for the day, it’s easy to save space in your carry-on luggage by throwing them in your checked bag. But planes get delayed and bags get lost, so make sure you keep the medicine and supplies you need close at hand when you fly. Also, bring enough to last you an extra day or two in case your trip home is delayed.

  1. Keep your travel plans to yourself.

Thieves take interest in nice homes that sit empty, so don’t make your home an unnecessary target by sharing your travel plans online. Even if your account is private, Facebook isn’t as secure as you might think so wait until you return home to share tales of your vacation. Consider asking a family member or friend to check up on your house while you are gone. General home safety and maintenance concerns are a nonissue for Meth-Wick residents. Our private campus is guarded by 24-hour security staff and yards are maintained by our groundskeepers.

  1. Secure your valuables.

Consider purchasing clothes for your trip outfitted with lots of inside pockets for you to discreetly store money, credit cards and passports on your person. When you’ve reached your hotel, familiarize yourself with the safe in your room and keep your valuables inside, rather than sitting on the bed or a desk. Don’t put the “Clean My Room” sign on your door when you leave, as it alerts potential thieves that you aren’t in the room. Call down to the front desk when you leave to let the staff know they can begin cleaning.

  1. Don’t ignore your stomach.

Although it’s hard to admit, you’re not 25 anymore. Gone are the days where you could eat a gallon of spicy salsa and a whole pizza then wake up the next day ready for adventure. Trying new foods is half the fun of traveling but don’t disregard any dietary restrictions you might have. It’ll be hard to say no to that schnitzel, but it beats spending the rest of the day in your hotel bathroom when you could be wandering around a beautiful new city.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.

Older adults are often targets for theft and fraud as they are perceived to be less aware of their surroundings and more likely to carry valuables, like cash and nice cameras. Familiarize yourself with the area and local public transit. It’s easy to grab a bag from the back of your chair or even between your feet. Keep purses and bags in front of you while walking and on your lap while sitting.

Safe travels this holiday season from all of us at Meth-Wick.

Generous Donations Bring Campus To Life

When you step on Meth-Wick’s campus for the first time, you start to notice all the little details that make it unique. Take a walk by the koi pond and you’ll see dedicated benches from spouses and loved ones. Walk through The Woodlands and its warm water therapy pools and you’ll see names of generous businesses and family endowments lining the walls. Visit a common area in one of the residences and you’ll see a benefactor’s name on the door.

Meth-Wick fills an important role in our community by building a positive and healthy environment for older adults. It’s a mission that has moved thousands of residents and community members to donate to the cause.

  • Resident Connie Proffitt has spent her life giving. Giving her homemade prayer shawls to those in need of a little love. Giving English lessons to adults learning to read. Giving care to her late husband when he fell ill. But most recently, she’s begun giving a memorial donation to Meth-Wick’s endowment fund every time a resident passes away. Connie’s gift pays respect to those who’ve passed by giving compassion to those still with us.
  • Carolyn Lindsay’s mother, Lillian Neff, lived at Meth-Wick for ten years until her passing in 2016. Lillian enjoyed her time at Meth-Wick and she especially cherished the staff who cared for her. To honor her mother’s memory, Carolyn contributed a Ninja Coffee Bar to the hardworking men and women who care for residents at The Woodlands, so they can continue to brighten the days of residents like Lillian.
  • Arbor Place, which provides assisted living for residents with memory needs, was in need of an upgrade. Meth-Wick staff was working to secure funding to replace the carpet, furniture and windows so the building would feel more like home. The relative of a former Arbor Place resident got wind of the project and made an anonymous $50,000 donation to make it a reality. The donor’s relative was well cared for at Arbor Place and their donation will ensure current and future residents will find comfort there as well.

Meth-Wick is made great by the people who love it. The community here is a product of generosity. Sometimes that generosity manifests itself as a tree that shades a pair of old friends passing under its branches. Other times it manifests itself as a new building where grandparents will one day invite their grandchildren over to play checkers.

Gifts large and small bring our campus to life. During October’s Leave A Legacy Month, we hope Connie, Carolyn, and countless others like them inspire you to share your values with the Meth-Wick Community.

Please consult your financial professional for to determine the gift best suited to your financial needs. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa Dusil at (319) 297-8603 or

“I was lucky to join Meth-Wick when I did”

Teresa Dusil and Meth-Wick grew up together. Teresa graduated from Central College in 1981, when Meth-Wick was 20 years old and The Manor was its only building. Eager to use her degree in business management, she went to Iowa Workforce, where she was told Meth-Wick had an opening. She said, “What is Meth-Wick?”

Although Teresa doesn’t recall her first job title, she does recall what the job entailed: everything. “I did whatever needed to be done because there was no one else to do it,” she says.

Teresa gained experience in problem solving, project management, customer service and working with vendors. She assembled packets for the board of directors and took notes at meetings. She gave tours to prospects and signed move-in agreements, which gave her the chance to meet each resident. With offices and residences in one building, Teresa saw residents every day. “I knew everyone by name,” she says. “I really enjoyed that.”

As Meth-Wick grew, many of Teresa’s duties evolved into positions filled by new staff.

Good memories, bad technology
While Teresa has fond memories of her early days with Meth-Wick, she does not miss the low-tech (or no-tech) way of doing things, which made simple tasks a challenge. “I remember I had to dial the Meth-Wick operator, who used a switchboard, to get an outside line,” she says.

Teresa prepared the resident newsletter using a typewriter and mimeograph, a duplicating machine that used ink and a stencil. “I remember it was a really big deal when we got our first copier,” she says. Thirty-five years later, Teresa still enjoys producing the resident newsletter.

Some of Meth-Wick’s early apartments had a one-piece kitchen unit similar to the type used in campers, and included a sink, stovetop and refrigerator. The resident dining area served three meals a day. “It had a cafeteria feeling, with a few long tables,” says Teresa.

Working at Meth-Wick for over three decades has given Teresa a sense of continuity. “I feel like a teacher who’s taught multiple generations of family members,” she says. The Griswold family is one such example. Doris Griswold was a resident for 18 years. Today her son, Jon, lives in Greenwood Terrace with his wife, Phyllis.

Meth-Wick plays matchmaker
Teresa has seen Meth-Wick experience tremendous growth, providing her with an ever- evolving job that is never boring. She credits Meth-Wick for introducing her to her husband, Randy. He was the project manager for Rinderknecht while Greenwood Terrace was being built.

Today, as director of operations, Teresa identifies and meets with potential donors. “I help them match their passions with gifts that enhance residents’ lives,” she says. She also manages capital campaigns like “Rejuvenate,” a recently completed project at The Woodlands. “It’s my job to keep things moving,” she says. It’s not often someone spends their career with one company. “I was lucky to join Meth-Wick when I did.”

Meth-Wick shares that luck. “Many residents and employees have benefited from Teresa’s deep past with Meth-Wick,” says Robin Mixdorf, CEO. “Teresa and other long-term employees carry our history with them into the community. People enjoy living and working with others who share their visions and goals.”

Click here to read more from the latest issue of Lifestyles!

“We couldn’t pass it up”

Jon and Phyllis Griswold are planners. After seeing how happy and well cared for Jon’s mother, Doris, was during her 18 years at Meth-Wick, it was an easy decision to put their names on the waiting list for independent living. “The care mother had was first class and she loved the staff,” says Jon.

One day they had a call from Meth-Wick about a unit at Greenwood Terrace. They were intrigued by the spaciousness of the apartment. Seeing the unit in person was all it took for them to make a decision.

“It felt like home,” says Phyllis. “We couldn’t pass it up.”

Right move, right time

Their Greenwood Terrace home has three bedrooms, three baths and two enclosed balconies. “It’s very similar in size to our last home,” says Phyllis. Even so, the couple saw the move as a chance to downsize. “Some people move everything without going through it, putting the responsibility on their kids to sort things,” says Phyllis, who was tasked with going through items from her parents’ household. “We didn’t want to do that,” says Jon. “Our kids are very happy we’re planning for the future rather than putting the job on them.”

The Griswolds recommend hiring help for packing and moving. They used Becky Esker’s Get Organized! to take furniture to the company’s consignment shop and pack up their household items except for the kitchen and clothes closet, which the Griswolds handled themselves. A Get Organized! decorator made a floor plan of the couple’s Greenwood Terrace home with ideas for placing their 64 pieces of furniture. “She showed us how we could make everything fit in ways that were fresh and creative,” says Phyllis.

By the end of moving day, the Get Organized! team had hooked up the TV, put items away in drawers and cabinets, made the beds, set up the computer and even set the correct time on the clocks. “They did a beautiful job,” says Jon.

Jon and Phyllis love their kitchen. A half-wall lets in plenty of light. The wide countertop has two padded stools pulled up, the couple’s favorite spot for sharing a glass of wine. One kitchen cabinet has pullout shelves, built by Jon and a friend.

Life as it should be

The couple has eagerly embraced life at Meth-Wick since moving here in May 2015. They start most days with a two-hour walk. Phyllis, who has had two hip replacement surgeries, likes knowing she can rest on one of the many campus benches if the need arises. “We wear a Meth-Wick issued call button when we walk, so we can get help if we need it,” says Phyllis.

They participate in many Meth-Wick programs and activities, including Friday afternoon Happy Hour, musical programs at Live, Laugh, Learn Center, computer classes, wood carving, men’s and women’s coffee and resident meetings. Generous with their time, the Griswolds’ volunteer work includes driving for Red Cap (on-campus transportation), and hosting at The Woodlands reception desk. Jon also instructs fellow residents on how to use Greenwood Terrace’s outdoor gas grill. He is a bit of an expert, since he uses it weekly.

The couple is happy with the timing of their decision to move. “We tell our friends not to wait, to make the decision sooner rather than later,” says Jon. “It’s a lot of work emotionally and physically to sort through every- thing. The older you are, the harder it is. We’re glad we made the move so we can get on with doing the things we enjoy.”

Click here to read more from the latest issue of Lifestyles!

Access to transportation keeps seniors independent, engaged in civic & social activities


Transportation is essential to quality of life for seniors. Yet our country’s transportation network policy has not undergone any extensive updates in five decades. Transportation for America (T4A), a coalition working to ensure transportation for citizens of all ages, released a report in 2011 called “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation.

The report defines the current state of transportation affairs and advocates areas for change, if we, as a country, are going to meet the needs of our aging citizens.

“Absent access to affordable travel options, seniors face isolation, a reduced quality of life and possible economic hardship. A 2004 study found that seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65 percent fewer trips to visit family and friends, than drivers of the same age. “

Hitting the road with upgrades

A growing number of cities and states are taking the initiative to make transportation accessible to the older residents of their communities. These steps include ensuring facilities and services for seniors are located in areas with nearby transportation and installing senior-friendly roadway upgrades to reduce accidents and increase the length of time seniors can drive.

The best practices cited by the T4A report include installing larger street signs and larger and brighter stop lights; keeping median strips painted and visible; and adding left turn lanes on busy streets. After Detroit implemented these changes, the city saw a 35 percent decrease in accidents with injuries among drivers 65 years and older.

While these roadway improvements will be a huge boost to the quality of life for seniors, most will eventually be dependent on someone else to drive. If they are to have quality of life at that point, access to transportation is imperative in order for them to remain independent as long as possible.

Alternative transit options
While many communities have taken steps to enhance public transportation so it is more accessible to seniors, including more routes and stops, the T4A report predicts public transit will be hard to find in communities of 65,000 or fewer residents, which is why many forward-thinking community officials have begun innovative steps to address this challenge.

Alternative transportation

meth-wick-transportation-vanFor those residents who drive, Meth-Wick provides abundant indoor parking so their vehicle is easily accessible no matter what Iowa’s volatile weather brings.

Meth-Wick residents who do not own a car have alternative transportation options, including courtesy rides in a chauffeur-driven car (14 free one-way trips per fiscal year) and a free intra-campus transit system. An additional option, Meth-Wick Home & Health Services wheelchair-accessible Mobility Van, is available to clients.

All of us at Meth-Wick understand the importance of transportation to your wellbeing. Life as it should be.


Warm Water Therapy’s Unique Benefits Aid Healing & Recovery

When water’s properties are combined with a water temperature of 92 degrees, you have the optimum conditions for healing and recovering from injury, surgery or chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis. A swimming pool does not offer the benefit of a therapeutic water temperature. Rather, this type of therapy must occur in a warm water therapy pool, like the HydroWorx™ therapy pools Meth-Wick recently installed at The Woodlands.

The benefits of warm water therapy include:

  • Faster recovery from surgery or injury
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased range of motion
  • Greater cardiovascular endurance

Water’s buoyancy reduces the amount of pressure and weight bearing a patient can feel in their joints. Physical therapists use the properties of buoyancy to assist in exercise, support a movement or as resistance to a movement—all depending on whether the patient’s movements are perpendicular to the water’s surface or downward, against bouyancy’s upward push.

Hydrostatic pressure is another beneficial characteristic of water that aids in physical therapy. Simply stated, hydrostatic pressure asserts the same amount of pressure from all directions, which decreases inflammation.

Research confirms aquatic benefits
While physical therapists and doctors have long believed in water’s healing benefits, a growing body of research bolsters the evidence. In one study, a group of 71 patients, who had been diagnosed with hip or knee osteoarthritis, was divided into two groups: one received water therapy, the other did not. After six weeks, the patients in the two groups were evaluated. The water therapy patients gained significant improvement over the non-therapy patients in all areas: pain reduction; increased muscle strength and physical function, and quality of life.

In addition to the inherent benefits of water’s properties, maintaining a warm water temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit provides the added benefit of increased circulation to muscles, which makes them easier and less painful to move.

Therapy tools boost progress
Physical therapists often use water-related “tools” to assist their patients in recovery. Underwater treadmills can help patients normalize their walking gait, enhance mobility and improve walking endurance. Underwater jets can be activated to provide resistance to walking on the treadmill, a benefit to a patient who has progressed to a point in water therapy where they need more physical challenge. These jets can also be directed at a specific area to increase blood flow, relieve pain and “loosen” a tight muscle. Water dumbbells and flotation aids are also used to provide a variety of therapeutic movements that can be tailored to the needs of each patient.

Meth-Wick’s Therapy Pools
Warm water therapy is now at Meth-Wick Community! Please join us anytime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, June 10, for a tour of our new therapy pools at The Woodlands. You’ll also have the chance to experience our new health-enhancing light system and neighborhood philosophy—all designed to help our residents live their best life. We look forward to seeing you there!