Weekly Writing Group at Pickersgill

Research continues to show benefits for seniors who write. These include memory enhancement; improvement of comprehension and communication skills; stress reduction; and increased self-confidence, self-discipline, and even emotional intelligence. And sharing with fellow writers is an added bonus.

Enter Pickersgill’s Writing Group, a dozen or so residents who have been coming together every Friday afternoon for the past three years to share stories they’ve written about their lives. Initially a gathering of people who like to write but may need a little nudge, the group has become so much more. It’s a warm, supportive family composed of very different people who have lived through many similar experiences.

Each week group members share what they wrote during the week. There is always a suggested assignment, and the topics span the spectrum, from holidays to happiness to milestones to favorite books and music. Some topics are tougher than others; writing about parents proved difficult for some. Not everyone writes every week, and not everyone writes on the assigned topic. Everyone does share though, and discussions are lively and funny and poignant.

The group has celebrated birthdays (two members are 98) and mourned the departure of others. But every Friday when they gather aches and pains are temporarily forgotten while sharing stories and laughter.

Orioles Biggest Fan Lives at Pickersgill

In 1954, “I Love Lucy” was the top-ranking TV show, Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, Eisenhower was president, and the Orioles debuted in Baltimore. For Olga Wagner, 96, a resident at Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson, Maryland, it was a start of a lifelong love affair with America’s Pastime.

Though Olga grew up in New Jersey, she moved to Baltimore when she was 20, and Maryland has become her home. The Orioles have been her favorite team since the team came to Baltimore in 1954; she cheers them on through every game.

Her love of the Orioles began with her children. Her daughters were both members of the Junior Orioles Dugout Club and loved watching baseball. The family lived only five minutes away from Memorial Stadium (the Orioles home field until 1991) and regularly watched games there.

Having been a fan since the beginning, she has seen heart-wrenching defeats and lived the pure joy that floods through a city when the home town team wins the World Series—something every Orioles fan under the age of 34 has yet to experience. Understandably so, Olga’s favorite Orioles memory is when the O’s defeated Pete Rose and the Philadelphia Phillies to claim the World Series Championship in 1983.

Like many Baltimore Orioles fans, Wagner’s favorite Orioles player is Cal Ripken Jr., and her favorite moment in a game happened on September 6, 1995, when Cal Ripken Jr. started in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s “unbreakable” 2,130 consecutive game record.

Though Wagner has not attended an Orioles game in several years, she still watches every game she can on television—often staying up late to do so. Olga collects Orioles pennants and often wears her Orioles shirts to show her team support.

Here, you can see the passion Olga Wagner has for her favorite team:

Olga Wagner sporting her Orioles gear

Jerry Mead Finds More Than Just a Place To Live at Pickersgill

For the past 25 years, Jerry Mead has enjoyed making friends and making a home at Pickersgill Retirement Community. “There’s no place I’d rather be,”Jerry says.

When Pickersgill’s first cornerstones were being placed, Jerry and his wife watched from their home no more than a block away. “I watched them build it,” he remembers. That marked the exciting beginning of Jerry’s long and happy relationship with his future home. Pickersgill’s welcoming community has balanced independence with assistance in a way that allows residents like Jerry to live full and happy lives, no matter how long they decide to stay.

Continue reading

On Cue: Pickersgill Retirement Community Residents Pick Up Billiards, Win Trophies

Seven residents from Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson, Md., get together four times a week to play billiards and they occasionally take their game to a neighboring retirement community to compete.
Richard Davidson, a Pickersgill resident who lives at the community with his wife Elinor, is not an “experienced” billiards player, but picked up the game a year ago and sharpens his skills regularly with the group.
“I just do it for fun,” Davidson said. “You meet a lot of people that way.”
Though Davidson doesn’t play competitively often, he and the six other members of the billiards club travel every few months to nearby Blakehurst Retirement Community to compete with their residents’ billiards team.
Throughout the game play, the score remains pretty even for the players on both teams.
“I honestly can’t tell you if any team is in the lead right now,” Davidson said. “We just all have a good time playing.”
Davidson and his wife described Pickersgill resident Jack Moore as the top billiards player in the group with his ability to perform impressive shots, and the player to watch when competing or just playing casually.
Along with billiards, Pickersgill offers many different activities for residents to participate.

Dick Davidson and Henry Grandizio
Davidson likes playing Wii bowling and bridge when he isn’t sinking shots with his billiards friends. He also looks forward to the summer weather when Pickersgill will open their seasonal horseshoe pit.
Davidson enjoys as many activities Pickersgill offers residents as he can; meeting people and participating in different events are two of the reasons he and his wife enjoy living at the community.
“Most people put off moving to a place like this even though the time is right,” Davidson said. “The biggest draw here is the people; it’s like one big family.”
Founded in 1802, Pickersgill Retirement Community is named after one of its early board presidents, Mary Pickersgill, the seamstress who created the American flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Today the nonprofit retirement community offers a continuum of retirement living accommodations, including brand-new assisted living rooms and suites. To learn more, visit us online atwww.pickersgillretirement.org, or feel free to give us a call at 410-825-7423.

Making the Move: Daughter is Happy Her Mother Feels at Home at Pickersgill

As Virginia Modjesky approached her 90s, she was beginning to think about moving out of her Dundalk, Md., townhouse into an affordable retirement community, and shared the news with her daughter, Virginia McCurdy, who was happy to help her mother search for the best place to suit her needs.

McCurdy began her search online, working off of stories she had heard about communities in the Baltimore, Md., area, and looking specifically for communities that her mother could afford. She narrowed her search to two places. After visiting Pickersgill and the other community, Virginia Modjesky chose Pickersgill, and placed her name on the list for an apartment.

Modjesky—who experiences bouts of vertigo, but is otherwise very independent—is now the happy resident of an independent assisted living apartment, where she does not require any help from the nursing team, and is otherwise free to go about her business like a resident of an independent living apartment.

The move brings great peace of mind to her daughter, and their family.

“I’m extremely pleased with it. I would highly recommend people checking it out. It’s bright, it’s clean, the people are friendly—I don’t know what else you could ask for. The meals are good—she’s probably eating more now than what she was at home, which is good. When we had the snow, I didn’t have to worry if she had food in the house, or if the power went off. We just don’t have to worry anymore,” McCurdy said.

McCurdy said that her mother moved into the community about a week before the worst winter storm of the season, which was perfect timing. She and her husband don’t dig out for major storms, and were relieved that they didn’t have to spend the rest of the relentless winter season worrying whether her mother had heat, enough food, or was doing well.

As a daughter who has always been close with her mother, McCurdy said that she paid attention to the many details of the communities they researched. She liked that the nursing staff answered any questions she had about services, that they suggested activities her mother might like, and were friendly. McCurdy attended a fair and a luncheon at the community over the time period in which they were on the wait list, and making their decision. She credited the vendors with helping the family to make the move, downsize and prepare for the transition.

Modjesky, who had been living on her own since 1995, did not have difficulty making the move, McCurdy said.

“She is very realistic and she sees ahead. She’s always been the one to say that she would never move in with either my brother or I; if she had to go someplace she would go someplace,” McCurdy said.

That independence, however, meant that much of Modjesky’s time was spent alone outside of church. It is also a great comfort to her children that their mother now seems to be making friends since moving to the community in January.

“Mom is beginning to think more of it as home. When she moved, she didn’t expect that she would be happy; she expected she would be contented. She hasn’t been happy since my father passed away 30 years ago; she’s been contented. But now she is more outgoing. Each time I go there, she introduces me to someone new, and is getting involved in activities,” McCurdy said. “Before, her only outlet was church, so she didn’t have a lot of contact with people otherwise. She seems to be adjusting very well to it. My brother says just the way she talks is very upbeat.”