Touchmark: The Full Life at 55+

Brand Story - In Portland’s West Hills resides a growing community dedicated to living the full life 

— one where no day is complete without laughter, care and a little adventure. This place is called Touchmark, and it also happens to be a retirement community.

Those who think that retirement living means slowing down have never visited one of Touchmark’s locations, where the roster of daily activities and care options is as diverse as its Sunday brunch.

For some, retirement means relaxation. For others, it means checking items off that bucket list. Whether a resident wants to stay on-site for regular doses of tai chi, tech workshops, happy hours and more, or prefers spending time at a favorite hiking spot or downtown cafe, the Touchmark team facilitates both tailored individual experiences and community spirit. Its integrated independent living, assisted living and memory care structure means that loved ones can stay connected no matter where they are in their journeys.

For Toni Propotnik, resident and president of the Resident Council, a full life comes down to the people who fill it.

“It’s joyful here. My husband died two-and-a-half years ago, and I felt myself becoming increasingly lonely. I’m a very social person naturally,” she recalls. “When friends see me today they say they haven’t seen me this happy in a long time.”

Although it just opened a year ago, Touchmark in the West Hills’ rapidly growing group of 200-plus residents hit the ground running, actively shaping what life there looks like. Staff and residents will be the first to tell you that Touchmark’s success is a community effort. The active Resident Council and various committees, such as the Life Enrichment/Wellness Committee, invite residents to use their interests and expertise to inform the resources and activities offered.

Exploregon adventures, for example, include overnights and daytrips across the state. One trip was a sternwheeler boat ride up the Columbia River. Another group recently returned from the Abbey Bach Festival in Mt. Angel. Other trips take travelers farther afield: the Panama Canal, Ireland or a fall tour of the East Coast, to name a few.

“Whether it’s zip lining, roller coasters or the Bach Festival, we like to consider ourselves the captains of adventure,” says Touchmark’s Stefanie Thune-Barnes, vice president, regional director of operations.

Because each community is different, no two Touchmarks offer exactly the same events. The only common denominator is a full calendar.

“When I receive the monthly calendar, it takes me one-and-a-half hours to go through it and decide what I want to attend,” Propotnik notes. “Touchmark stays future-oriented and provides opportunities to learn new things, and also maintains the things we came here enjoying.”

Touchmark’s award-winning innovations include its Fragrance in Frames program for individuals living with dementia. Painting sessions mix essential oils with paint. After most sessions, confusion measurably decreases and socialization increases.

“Our exercise program is all about mind and motion. Not only are we lifting our weights, but we’re counting backward from 100 by four, or we name western states then eastern states,” Propotnik adds.  

The Portland location also won the top award from “Environments for Aging” for design. Its two lodges, one for independent living and one for care services, are connected by a skybridge that enables constant flow between the two.
With a stunning display of local artwork, lush green hills and modern architecture, the site itself warrants a visit. As part of the wider community, Touchmark offers regular opportunities for the public to enjoy events against a beautiful backdrop.

It’s easy to list the tangibles (an on-site movie theater, music festivals, TedTalks, etc.), but the community’s real power stems from its mission and values-driven culture of hospitality that it reinforces at every step.
“Every department, every day has a stand-up meeting where we emphasize our values,” explains Thune-Barnes. “It’s the care and attention to detail that really strikes me about Touchmark. I constantly hear residents say, ‘I wish I’d moved here sooner.’”

Studies have shown that individuals who live in retirement homes enjoy life more, stay healthier for longer, remain active and experience increased peace of mind. Touchmark understands the importance of shared experiences and community spirit.

“It’s a caring environment. Lots of people are experiencing loss and we really reach out to each other. These aren’t just words. It’s sincere,” Propotnik says.

During Active Aging Week at the beginning of October, Touchmark welcomed the public for a series of events that illustrate what the full life really looks like.

As a hub of new experiences rather than a place to wind down (although Wine Down Wednesdays are a regular favorite), Touchmark challenges perceptions: “Retirement living is nowhere near what you think it is. It’s dynamic, vibrant and full of choice,” concludes Thune-Barnes.

Touchmark is a feeling — a community where full calendars are important and deep relationships are essential. After all, retirement living is just that — living.

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