Resident-Driven Lifestyle

Lifecare communities are hard at work to correct negative perceptions that used to plague retirement communities. Not only are Lifecare communities (previously known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs) here for residents through their healthcare journey, but living in one of these communities can be a lot of fun and fulfilling!

Most Lifecare communities apply the resident-driven lifestyle and The Admiral at the Lake, a Lifecare retirement community in Chicago, is proud to be one of them. One big positive of a resident-driven lifestyle is that it can be enjoyed by everyone in all areas of the community including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab, and memory care. Everything is located on one campus, so if a resident has to transfer to a higher level of care, they are still able to reap the rewards of a resident-driven lifestyle.

Take an in-depth look at five committees currently active at The Admiral and see for yourself how residents play a huge role in providing vibrancy to The Admiral’s lifestyle.

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What is a Resident-Driven Lifestyle?

A resident-driven lifestyle is exactly what it sounds like. This type of community does not have a hired activities coordinator or director. The residents themselves call the shots and shape the community however they wish. In other words, they make it feel more like home.

At The Admiral, residents plan their own activities such as lifelong learning opportunities, trips, social activities and more. They do this by forming committees and groups that focus on one topic or one activity. That committee then plans activities that the whole community can choose (or choose not to) participate in. The Admiral at the Lake staff is also invited and love to participate in these committees alongside the residents.


“We have so many opportunities at The Admiral as we have over 30 committees and groups that we can get involved in,” Phil, a resident at The Admiral, explained. “This community is resident-run, so if there is something that interests you that we don’t already have a committee for, you can always request it.”


What are the benefits of a resident-driven lifestyle?
  • Promotes closeness between resident to resident and resident to staff.
  • Opportunities to continue hobbies or activities that you love after moving to a retirement community.
  • Opportunities to learn something new by attending a class or workshop.
  • Residents get a sense of empowerment.
  • Having choices that allow residents to continue living independently.


The Admiral at The Lake Resident Committees

The committees and groups lay the groundwork for making the community feel like home. When you move to a Lifecare community that promotes a resident-driven lifestyle, you can choose to be as active as you’d like.

At The Admiral at the Lake, there are over 30 committees and groups. When a new resident moves in, right away you are welcomed by a committee appropriately named the Welcome Committee. This committee will help you get acquainted with the community, and they are happy to help each new resident feel at home.

If you are interested in joining a committee or group, you can attend a meeting to see if the committee is right for you. Have an interest or a passion but there isn’t a committee for that interest? You can always propose a new committee.

For now, let’s explore five committees at The Admiral at the Lake.

Sarah's Circle - Volunteer Group

VolunteerOne popular activity that residents at The Admiral like to participate in is volunteering.

“So many people at The Admiral at the Lake are volunteers within The Admiral or outside throughout the community and are an inspiration to others to volunteer as well,” Phil, a resident at The Admiral, said.

One of the many volunteer groups for residents to participate in if they so choose is Sarah’s Circle.


What is Sarah's Circle?

A 50-bed interim housing (shelter) program for women who are currently homeless, and permanent supportive housing for women who have a disabling condition and have been chronically homeless.

How was this group founded?

After a friend suggested that she bring her many excess toiletries to Sarah’s Circle,  the group’s coordinator has been working with the shelter for decades.

What is the benefit of being a part of this volunteer group?

An important part of outreach is consistency so that charities and non-profits can try to forecast, plan and better serve those in need. By creating a longstanding relationship with Sarah’s Circle, The Admiral is providing regular and much-needed help to the community’s homeless women in the form of volunteers, food, clothing, money and hygiene products. The Admiral was even recognized in 2018 as Sarah’s Circle’s “Volunteers of the Year” for its contributions. However, the work being done is also of great benefit to the residents as it illustrates that anyone can fall into homelessness through a series of adverse circumstances — the group helps shatter stereotypes of homelessness and serves as a humble reminder of the privilege of basic necessities. 

How often are meetings held for Sarah’s Circle group?

This group meets twice a month. The first meeting is a discussion around fundraising, food donations, initiatives, etc. The second meeting is a visit to the shelter to serve food and drop off donations.

How can a resident join this group?

The group is open to all residents and staff members. The residents are reminded of meetings via emails and posting boards.


In the Blog:
My Chicago: Inspired to Give Back to the Community

Learn how one resident at The Admiral at the Lake donates his time and how you can get started volunteering.

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Art Committee & Creative Arts Studio


If you are the creative type or enjoy the visual arts, you will be right at home at the Admiral.

Our hallways come alive with artwork created by residents, known Chicago artists and local art therapy organizations. Our Art Committee is responsible for several components: art workshops, exhibitions, receptions and speakers.

About the Creative Arts Studio

The Admiral at the Lake is fortunate to house a cozy art studio for individual use and group workshops. In the Creative Arts Studio, some residents lead workshops- oil painting, surface design and fun holiday-related art such as Valentines for Valentine's Day.

The studio comfortably accommodates 16, but for an activity such as our popular coloring book parties, 20 to 25 is workable. The room is open 24/7 and solely dedicated to art activities. Lockers are available for personal equipment, but a wide range of art supplies is available and free to all.

Residents, their family members and staff members are welcome to enjoy the Creative Arts Studio. Grandparents have been known to entertain their grandchildren in the art studio.

How are art classes and workshops planned and executed?

The classes are based on the capabilities of resident instructors and the wants and interests of the community. If there are a lot of sign-ups for a particular medium of art, the committee will make sure to provide more classes on that topic. Individual committee members are responsible for much of the programming. One resident hosts drop-in art workshops most Thursdays, with other residents organizing model-drawing and oil painting, amongst other things.

When is the resident's artwork displayed?

Art is always on view throughout the Admiral. An art collection from the “old Admiral“ has been vetted and installed throughout the public areas. And the Admiral, unlike many communities, encourages our residents to personalize the immediate space around their entry with art of their choosing.

The Hall Gallery hosts new exhibits bi-monthly with a wine and cheese reception for residents and the artists.
Our gallery exhibits range from resident art exhibits, both solo shows and group exhibits, to Chicago artists and local art therapy organizations. Residents and committee members refer artists for consideration.

The art committee also hosts presentations by artists and art speakers (ARTspeak) and arranges pop-up art projects that appear in the dining area lockers (Art Inside the Box).

How can a resident/staff member join the committee?

Anyone is welcome to join or get involved in the committee. Residents are often attracted to the committee through the workshops and then may go on to suggest an artist for the gallery, or even display their own work.

Health and Wellness Liaison Committee

If you’ve ever read Kendal’s Values and Practices, you’ll notice that health and wellness is our top priority.

FitnessWhat does the Health and Wellness Liaison Committee do?

The goal of the committee is to enhance the experience of living at The Admiral by addressing issues that affect the physical and mental well-being of residents. The committee further advises management on such issues while maintaining an on-going relationship with the staff to support these goals.

Committee meetings are well attended by the Wellness team as well as Health Services and Culinary Services when necessary. The agenda for these meetings includes some of the following:

  • Increasing food quality while being health conscious and maintaining variety.
  • The role and potential programs for the independent living social worker.
  • Expanding nutritionist assistance through programs with the dietician.
  • Discussions on hiring, the wellness clinic and fitness class.
  • Brainstorming future educational presentations.
  • Crossover programs with the Harbors.


How are health and wellness classes determined and which seems to be the favorite among residents?

The residents play a role in determining which fitness programs will be added to the schedule by analyzing residents’ interests, needs and functional capabilities.

The most sought-out programs by residents are the higher-level intensity classes which take place in the mornings. These classes include Strength and Balance, Aerobics and the Strength Circuit. Aquatic Classes are also amongst the most popular.

What are the benefits of having fitness programs available to residents?

Fitness programs have many benefits, which include:

  • Decreasing the risk of falls.
  • Helping maintain overall health.
  • Promoting an active lifestyle which allows for a longer duration of independent living.
  • Controlling high blood pressure, arthritis and promoting better mental health.
  • Providing discharged residents from physical therapy with access to a continuum of exercises. 

How do residents and staff members get involved with  the committee?

Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month and additional meetings are held if they are needed.

All residents and staff members are invited to join the committee. The residents are surveyed for their interest in programs that are usually presented one or two times a month.


Isn't it Your Time to Make YOUR Health a Priority?

We've created the 10 Strategies to Make Wellness a Priority guide specifically for you!

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Gardening Group

GardeningWho wants to get their hands dirty in the garden? The Gardening Group enjoys taking an active role in keeping the inside and outside of The Admiral looking beautiful with flowers and plants.

What kind of gardening duties does the Gardening Group take on at The Admiral? 

The gardening group has many duties and takes on new ones frequently. The programs are planned based on the collective brainstorming and prior experiences of the group members. Some of the most notable duties include:

  • Managing the 10th-floor terrace individual gardening plots.
  • Planting flowers on the 6th-floor terraces and ground floor alley.
  • Placing and maintaining plants throughout the community.
  • Growing plants from seeds and selling them twice a year.
  • Creating a guide-book for balcony gardening to encourage residents to plant in their own apartments.
  • Organizing trips to iconic Chicago gardens.
  • Sourcing garden-related speakers and presenters.
  • Creating horticulture therapy workshops for the Harbors residents.

How often are meetings held and what is discussed? 

GardeningMeetings are held twice a month, which are separate from the “work days” where actual gardening and planting takes place. Work days happen as often as three times a week in the summer months.

In group meetings, there are a variety of topics discussed. Example discussions include gardening projects for harbors residents, the watering schedules, a bee-keeping proposal, the spring plant sale and the 2019 garden trip schedule.

If a resident wants to join the Gardening Group, what do they have to do? 

The Gardening Group publicizes through the bulletin boards and word-of-mouth which goes a long way in contributing to the group’s popularity.

Lifelong Learning Committee


When Toni, a resident at The Admiral at the Lake, was asked “What does lifelong learning mean to you?”, she promptly responded: “Continuing to use your mind to enrich your experiences, learn about new things and more about old things. It keeps your mind engaged!”


The Lifelong Learning Committee at The Admiral at the Lake is responsible for establishing opportunities and programs for residents to continue to learn if they wish to.

What programs were established by the committee?

LifeLong-LearningThe committee has established the following programs, amongst many others:

  • World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
  • The Skeptics Guide to American History
  • Optimizing Brain Fitness
  • The Reinhold Niebuhr Story
  • The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
  • The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries
  • Opera History (German, French, Russian and Italian)

The committee welcomes alternative material and looks for strong, engaging speakers, not just those with a lot of knowledge to share.

How do these programs benefit the residents?

The main benefits of lifelong learning come from the interactive nature of the sessions; the speakers engage in active question-and-answer sessions after every topic, with a guarantee of thought-provoking conversation. The speaker may even linger beyond the slotted time because of the dynamic exchange of information.

When are meetings held and what is discussed?

Lifelong Learning Committee meetings normally take place once a month. The committee’s main responsibility is to source speakers and topics for the Lifelong Learning Sessions. Residents use their personal connections and networking capabilities to find interesting candidates for the program.

How do residents take part in the programs or become a member of the committee?

The committee meetings and events are advertised at resident gatherings such as the “Fireside Chat.” Furthermore, the speakers and workshops are publicized on poster boards throughout the community.

In the Blog:
My Chicago: Lifelong Learning
in Chicago

The Admiral at the Lake's Partnership with the University of Chicago helps provide lifelong learning opportunities to residents.

Read Now


These five committees are just a small portion of the committees and groups available at The Admiral at the Lake.

If you would like to discover more, download the full and current list of committees and groups.

Download the Full Committee and Group List


Vibrant Living Opportunities at The Admiral at the Lake

flower garden at the admiral at the lake

All of these committees and groups have a similar goal in mind — to keep the community an enjoyable place to live and provide residents with opportunities to continue to pursue their passions and discover new interests.

If you are ready to discover more about The Admiral at the Lake, download our brochure to learn more or schedule a visit with us! During the visit, you can not only see the different living options available to you, but you can also get a sneak peek at any of the committees and groups that interest you by getting to meet the residents that are involved in them.

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