The Arbors at Dracut hopes to bring alternative for seniors


DRACUT — Living at The Arbors at Dracut for only a month, Ray Bedard said he really likes it so far.

“I’m perfectly happy — as happy as we are as human beings,” said Bedard, 88, as he sat in the pristine lobby of the assisted living facility last Wednesday. “It’s done very well. The service is excellent. It’s a well-planned place.”

Located at 21 Broadway Road, The Arbors at opened on June 6, roughly a year after breaking ground. The multi-million dollar facility is located beside the future site of Circle Health Dracut, a new outpatient center and the next addition to the not-for-profit’s expanding network, and near a rehabilitation facility planned by Genesis HealthCare.

Eighteen residents have moved in so far, according to Jonathan Athanas, executive director of The Arbors. There are 79 apartments.

The Arbors operates nine locations in the state. Athanas said the company looked at areas where there is a need, narrowing in on Dracut.

“We’re family-owned and operated and Dracut has a very, family-oriented feel so it was a good fit for our company as well as the town,” he said. “We hope to provide a service to the town, for seniors. This is really the alternative for folks that are living in the home where it might not be safe for them anymore, where they need kind of that watchful eye — people that are isolated. They are now part of a community where they’re with other residents that are kind of in the same boat they are.”

The monthly fee to reside at The Arbors at Dracut begins at $3,750 and includes services such as 24/7 assistance, nursing staff seven days a week, and amenities such as daily programs and outdoor courtyard and patios.

Athanas said the facility will have a grand open house, Sept. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. that is open to the public.

Amie Hanrahan, co-owner of The Arbors at Dracut with cousin Sara Robertson, said her family is excited about the facility’s recent opening in Dracut.

“We’ve been welcomed with open arms since day one, so it’s reassuring to know that the community really appreciates what we’re doing,” she said. “We’ve also tried to hire within, which I think is nice, to kind of give back to the community.”

Hanrahan said roughly half the staff is from Dracut. As more residents move in, there are plans to hire more staff.

The Arbors business is now in its third generation. According to its website, the company’s roots date to 1966, when E.G. Gralia Construction was founded by Ernie and Rose Marie Gralia.

“We may be a little bigger today, but our family philosophy remains the same: Genuine kindness, comfort and care can make a big difference in people’s lives,” the website reads under the ‘Our Story’ page.

The Arbors has a movie theater room and community room, where residents exercise at 9:30 a.m. daily, and participate in activities such as art classes.

“Yesterday we had our first artist class with a resident upstairs,” Judi Parisi, The Arbors’ activities director, said last Wednesday. “He taught four of us how to paint a seascape.”

Standing inside the tidy community room, Parisi pointed towards several canvases lined on a table nearby.

“As you can see, we did a practice on the small canvas and then we did a larger one,” she said.

Parisi said Monday brings a challenging brain activity for residents — when they talk about current events and play Scrabble or other word games. Every day there are different activities, she added.

“It’s great because they need to stay challenged and involved and feel a sense of worth and continue growth,” Parisi said. “We don’t stop being learners… everyone’s a lifetime learner.”

Town Manager Jim Duggan described The Arbors as a “gem of the community.”

“It offers the residents options as they get later in life, which I think is invaluable. Not only that, but the organization themselves are a great partner to the community,” he said. “They’re a real partner of the community, which I think is something that we were looking for.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.