96-year-old newlyweds thrive in independent living

96-year-old newlyweds Carl and Doris Kruse get married after finding common interests at Good Samaritan Society in Olathe, KS.

For Carl and Doris Kruse, living in an independent senior living community lets them focus less on their responsibilities and more on the activities and relationships that make them happy.

Their move to Cedar Lake Village in Olathe, Kansas, even includes a love story that led to marriage for the two 96-year-olds.

Transitioning to an independent senior living community

Carl and Doris each had unique journeys that brought them there.

Carl, a retired professor, volunteered with the Gideons in the area and was very familiar with all the senior care communities nearby. Cedar Lake Village stood out to him as a clear favorite, and he moved there after his first wife passed away.

“I picked out this place almost 10 years before I moved in,” says Carl. “I came to the conclusion that this was the place for me, and I’ve been so happy here ever since.”

96-year-old newlyweds Carl and Doris Kruse get married after meeting at Good Samaritan Society in Olathe, KS.

Doris, on the other hand, was already residing in an independent living complex in a different part of the state, close to her oldest son. When he moved to Florida, Doris decided to relocate to Cedar Lake Village so she could live by her youngest son.

And while the move to an independent living community could have been daunting, both Carl and Doris embraced it and found the transition to be easy and exciting.

“The move went very well,” says Doris. “The people here were very welcoming.”

Independent living gives them the perfect way to spend their later years. Building maintenance and daily chores are taken care of by the staff so residents can focus on the hobbies, relationships and family time they enjoy the most.

“Not having to cook or clean is the best part,” Doris states. “I think everybody would enjoy a place like this.”

Enjoying a full schedule of activities and friendship

It’s a common misconception that people become bored or lonely when they move into an independent senior living community. For Carl and Doris, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When Carl moved to Cedar Lake Village, his calendar filled up.

“I quickly transitioned into enjoying the activities here,” Carl says. “I got involved in the worship services and I’ve been involved in that ever since I came. It’s a ministry to keep a good program going on Sundays for those who can’t go to their own churches.”

96-year-old newlyweds Carl and Doris Kruse enjoy playing music together.

Carl is an avid music lover and helps with the choir and prelude music for Sunday worship services. He plays the violin, too, and his love of church music and ministry led to making a connection with Doris.

“That’s where we first got started,” says Carl. “Her first husband was a minister, and I grew up in a parsonage since my father was a minister. I’ve been active in church work all my life, so that was the way we first started bonding.”

Doris and Carl often played music with each other, and soon they started spending more time together through games and other activities on campus.

“We have a lot of programs in the morning and in the afternoon that we can go to,” said Carl. “I exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And then Monday is choir in the afternoon. Tuesday we have play practice for our theater group, Wednesday we have chimes practice, Thursday we play bridge, and Friday we have game nights.”

Beyond those programs, Doris leads a Bible study, and both Carl and Doris play pool every morning except for Sundays. There are occasional movie nights and afternoon programs, too. 

“We do keep pretty busy,” Doris says. “Occasionally we have to take a day off and catch our breath.”

Carl and Doris’ friendship grew through this myriad of events and social opportunities. Eventually Carl proposed to Doris, which came as a shock to her.

“It was very surprising,” states Doris. “I just thought I was going to finish my days out here single, and I was quite comfortable in my apartment and with the friends that I was making, including Carl.”

And while she said no the first time, she eventually came around to the idea and said yes.

Now that they’re married, life couldn’t be better.

“I like everybody here and we have so many activities that we enjoy,” Doris says. “It’s been a very nice place to retire to.”

Advice on moving to an independent senior living community

Carl knows many people have reservations about moving into an independent senior living community. He likes to share his own advice and experience to ease their worries.

“My recommendation for all people is that they make their plans ahead of time and move before they have to,” says Carl. “If you have things to look forward to and recognize that life’s not over, it can be very encouraging. I think a place like this where you're involved socially with other people who are in the same age range is much better than living at home. I really believe that.”

Moving into an independent living community also gives people the benefit of having additional services available if their health needs change in the future.

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