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Talking About Tomorrow: A Conversation About Wanderlust with Moorings Park’s Tom Mann

By Jim Nelson | November 29, 2023

Tom Mann

Looking forward rather than backward is how Tom Mann describes the residents at the Moorings Park Communities, for which he’s vice president of sales and marketing. Senior Living News Zoomed with Mann recently about a program at the three Moorings Park communities (Moorings Park, Moorings Park Grande Lake, and Moorings Park at Grey Oaks) that resonates with the residents’ sense of anticipation for adventure.

Mann told us about the program, Wanderlust, illuminating some of their inspiring adventures, and later Brett Swanson, MS, CSCS, Moorings Park’s director of wellness, told us about some of the adventures that they’re “researching and looking to put together” for their residents. The list includes shark diving, axe throwing, zip lining, hot air balloon riding, and clay shooting. Whoa. The next round of fun kicks off in early 2024.

SENIOR LIVING NEWS: So, what is the thought behind Wanderlust?

TOM MANN: It’s the opportunity to engage in adventure with your fellow neighbors and staff members, to have something to look forward to — anticipation. It’s a small part of our programming, because we have a very robust fitness program; our gyms are off the hook with state-of-the-art technology. All of our equipment is designed for boomers and seniors, we have robust group activities, so Wanderlust is just a small part of our programming, but it is the cherry on top. It’s that extra little spice of adventure that gives you something fun to look forward to. My office happens to be in one of our fitness centers, so I see our residents working out and in the swimming pool all the time. And these are people who, quite frankly, some of them are able to do things physically that I can’t do anymore as a late-50-year-old, so the impact of robust training and trainers is real. But we know that the physical component of health is just a part of health — it’s [also] purpose and adventure.

SLN: Do any of the family members come along?

TM: Family members very often go to watch the adventure; they want to see dad or mom jump out of the plane or race a car around. For a lot of kids — and the kids are in their 60s — for a lot of kids their parents have served as inspiration to them. I really think that we’re at this moment in history where we’re really changing our perception of age and what it means to be old, right? I read something yesterday that said most Americans now define old is like 85 or 80. And the irony of people defining 80 as old is the average age of mortality or death is 80 for an American. So, I think we as boomers are changing that like, “No, I’m not old. What are you talking about?”

SLN: How’s the response to Wanderlust?

TM: As someone who will not hop out of a plane I have been amazed at the response; in fact, [some of] the adventures have been so popular that they’ve ended up having to repeat them. The first group comes back and goes, “Man, that was awesome,” so we’ve had to have repeat adventures because the residents have had so much fun doing it.

The residents are the ones very often bringing us the ideas of what adventures they want. And by the way, this also ties into a lot of what our wellness program does in that when you come in for your initial orientation as a new resident — and they do this on an ongoing basis — they’ll ask you, “What are your goals? What are you working for?” We have two wellness centers here, fitness centers, and one has a huge wall where the residents have been writing their reasons for working out. One is, “I want I want to go skydiving,” one is, “I want to tour Europe with my grandkids.” I think of Dr. Peter Attia, [who] is on the New York Times bestseller list for a book named Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity. He talks about the centenarian Olympics: What is it you want to be able to do when you’re 100, and then how do you reverse engineer your fitness training and your health regimen to match that? For example, part of my centenarian Olympics I want to be able to lift my grandchildren even though I don’t have any yet. I want to be able to lift my luggage into the overhead space on an airplane, which means I’m still traveling. So, our wellness team is really asking our residents, “What is your centenarian Olympics, what do you want to be able to do?” A lot of these adventure ideas are coming from the residents saying, “I want to go on safari. I want to be able to do this, this, and this.”

SLN: Which adventures have been the most successful?

TM: Different adventures have resonated in different ways with individuals, and I’ll give you just one example of this. To me it was really touching. We had a resident and her husband’s complete career was in the motor industry. Her husband had recently passed away [after working] for Ford his entire life, and this resident went on the race car adventure [with] her deceased husband’s license in her pocket when she was driving. Her connection was that this was her husband’s last trip around the track, and what that meant for her. I think it had been about a year and a half since her husband had passed away, and she finished that lap around — and she hopped right back in and went in another car because she liked it so much. The first time she took the Porsche and the second time she took the Ferrari. And she said, “I came here wanting to take my husband one more time around the track, but I feel like now I’m ready to start living again.” On the skydiving adventure you had guys who had been paratroopers in the military, but to me the cool part of the story about successful aging is we’re not done. The adventures are still in front of us, and that should be true no matter what age you are. That’s the unifying thing. Our residents are not people who are sitting back talking about what they did in the war, these are people talking about what they’re going to do tomorrow. And to me, that’s what this is all about.


Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.

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