Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Letters from Jenn

Our Executive Director

The Timeless Charm of New Year’s Resolutions

Since ancient times, when the days finally begin to lengthen again, around the beginning of the new year, people have been celebrating the return of the light, and with it, the return of hope. That hope inspires us, and we make resolutions to discard what no longer serves us and set new and better goals […]

My Kids Can Be Kids Again

We hear this all the time from residents who have recently joined us here at The Willows. “At last, my kids can be kids again…” Let me explain. As parents we fully enjoy the years of watching our kids grow up and become adults. In fact, even after they grow up they are still “kids” […]

When You’re Here You’re Home

“Home” is such a wonderful word, isn’t it? There is so much that comes to mind: the people, the place, the feeling of home. In life there is “home,” and then there is just, well, pretty much everything else. “Home” is that sigh at the end of a long day, that sense of place, our […]

Join Me In Honoring Our Doctors

I mean, what would we do without doctors? I think almost all of us have seen the invaluable impact doctors have in our lives. From running in to your primary doc to check on a cold or cough to the on-call surgeon saving the life of a loved one. These dedicated and caring folks are […]

I Had Never Been Asked This Before

One of the best parts of my job is meeting with families who are considering The Willows as a future home for a loved one. People call me regularly to arrange a tour, with time for lots of questions and answers. Now mind you, I have been doing this for almost 5 years now so […]

A Little Bell Goes Off

Lets face it, there is a lot of hard work in a lifetime. Going to school, a career, raising a family, then helping with grandkids. It can be happy work, and if you’re lucky, much of it is. But it always seems like that rest and relaxation part is always over just one more hill. […]

More Than A Job

Did you know that on average we spend a third of our lives at work? When you think about it that way, where we choose to spend those working hours takes on a whole new meaning doesn’t it? As an employer, it’s not enough to just issue a paycheck every week. It’s not enough to […]

Down The Hall

Remember when you were young and something scary happened? Maybe it was a tornado, or a huge rainstorm, or a big windstorm. And always at night. Remember that? I know I do. And remember how you woke up and were scared? How can we forget? But what I also remember is that at times like […]

The Overlooked Enemy of Staying Young

It creeps in. Cloaked in a desire not to change. It’s the thing that can cause aging to accelerate faster than anything else. And yet it goes on and on, every day, month and year. It is loneliness. When I say it creeps in, that’s just what I mean. It does not ring the doorbell, […]

Our Veterans – Willows Heroes

Thank you for your service to our great country. We honor you all day, every day. We would not have the freedoms we have without you. Our nation, our way of life, our future, would not be as bright without you. Your service is always remembered with honor and respect here at The Willows. We […]

Beginning In A Whirlwind

I’d like to tell you about the beginning of our story…. It was July 2018. Ben and Mira Daniels had been working full time since 2015 to build The Willows. It was a big task, but they got the job done and were getting ready to open their doors in the next couple of months. […]

I Want To Talk About My Mom

Doesn’t Everyone? For so many of us, our moms mean everything to us. And as you and I have gotten to know each other through my weekly columns, I figured it was time to share a few of the things my mom taught me, important lessons that I use every day. Because they are as […]

From The Bottom Of Our Hearts

We are over the moon. For the fourth year in a row we have been awarded Best of the Best. This year we were lucky enough to win in all three categories of Best Assisted Living, Best Retirement Facility and Best Place to Work. Thank you so much! I want to send a huge thank […]

Why “Be Prepared” is a Great Motto

If you’ve been reading my columns for a little while now, you’ve gotten a snapshot into the way my mind works. As you might have noticed, I try to think of everything. You may be just like me in that regard. The other day, I got to thinking about the Boy Scout motto of “Be […]

What Best of the Best Means to Me

When I came to work at The Willows, I had big dreams. And when I got to know the family that built it, I found that was something we shared. We all wanted to create a community that put seniors first, that was beautiful, full of life and comfort, and excellence in care and service. […]

Let Me Lighten Your Load A Little Bit

After all, when a loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia everyone could use a helping hand. That’s why we have a monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting at The Willows on the last Wednesday of each month from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, with an optional lunch after. At these meetings you can learn from a […]

You’ve Already Won This Battle

But somehow the playing field always seems to shift again, doesn’t it? The only constant that seems to stay is change. Take Marshalltown for example. Remember Skate Town? The Mall? Stones Restaurant? All those buildings taken out by the tornado and derecho? We dealt with those changes. They weren’t easy, but we’re Marshalltown Strong, so […]

My Mom

I was born just a few weeks before my Mom graduated from high school. Right here in Marshalltown. While I’m sure that raising me so young couldn’t have been easy, my Mom always had a wisdom beyond her years and she built a strong roadmap for me. My Mom taught me that it was OK […]

No Need To Call Me

Just kidding. You really should call me. Whether you are an adult senior, or the relative of an adult senior. I can help. Because I know what you’re going through. At most stages along the way we have had someone to teach us how to get through the next step in our life with the […]

The Full Circle of Parenthood

Parenthood is such a trip. Parenthood ranges from your kids totally needing you…up to the point where you (the parent) totally need them. This is life. It’s about coming full circle. You know what? That shift is often not an easy one, even though it sounds so natural on paper. As parents, we are often […]

I See Myself In My Kids Every Day

I have two great kids, 11 year old Emerson and 16 year old Gabe. And sure, they are kids, just like we were once. They have their good days and their bad ones. But, one day at a time, I see patterns emerge in them that are familiar, inspiring, and ones I know I need […]

Something Very Special About The Holidays

Holidays are about expanding our hearts. They’re for making new memories and treasuring the old ones. And these new memories, in turn, cause hearts to grow even more. Holidays are an overflow of love. It’s what makes holidays so magical and why we look forward to them with warmth and anticipation. Holidays give adult children […]

Thank You For Loving Us Back

Senior Citizens and unconditional love. They go hand in hand. Unconditional love and Senior Citizens. Unconditional love means you love someone no matter what. The same way we love our children. No matter what, we love them. Meaning if they are less than perfect in their actions now and then, well, we love them anyway. […]

Keep Track of Your Parents Who Are Home Alone

We all love our Moms and Dads. After all, they raised us. They thought of us constantly, they put up with us when we were teenagers, and they sacrificed for us. Just like you sacrifice for your own kids. But Moms and Dads get older. And with aging, the decline in our facilities can creep […]

Family Matters

One thing I love is that people I don’t even know call me. Out of the blue. Just to talk. Can you believe that? No real agenda, they just want to get to know me… as a person, not as an executive trying to sell them something. And that’s how it should be with a […]

It’s A Common Misconception

So many people I’ve talked with over the years have a common misconception about Assisted Living: that it’s unaffordable for most people. And when I really take a look at the life our residents have, eating at a restaurant every day, having someone on-call for your health needs, doing your laundry and cleaning your apartment. […]

The Balance of a Leader

It took me years to find the right balance. But I did it. And now I get to provide this balance to residents of The Willows. Here is what I mean… …life is fragile, short. And that means we all should focus on the present moment, instead of the past or things we can’t change. […]

My Kids Help Me Everyday

I mean, they have seen me working in health care for years now. They know I often work at all hours. But they also know that I love my job and that residents of The Willows are just like our own family. In fact from time to time they suggest activities, trips or TV shows […]

Cinnamon Rolls

To me, cinnamon rolls are way more than just something to eat. They are something to love, something to savor. Cinnamon rolls stimulate our senses – smell, taste, touch and sight. But they are so much more than just that. They also give us a feeling of wonder, a feeling of memories of home, of […]

Shrimp Scampi for Breakfast

When I was a little girl growing up, my Mom always gave me lots of choices. What to wear, what sports to play, what chores, and how clean to keep my room (well, that was not really a choice). And life is that way. There are lots of choices. My Mom also taught me that […]

Memories Begin Every Day

First off, I love that you take the time to read my words every few days. It means a lot to me. I love my job as Executive Director of The Willows and I truly hope it shows. Today I want to speak to you about memories – something we think a lot about as […]

Memory Is One Thing, Feelings Are Another

“I may not remember what we talk about….but I always remember how you make me feel.” Here is a lesson I have learned for the adult children of parents with memory issues. It’s how your Mom or Dad feels that really matters to them. Look, memory issues are now an established part of adult life. […]

It’s So Easy to Overlook

Yet I see it happen all the time. Folks simply forget they own Long Term Care Insurance. And that is like discovering a pot of gold under your bed. Let me explain. Long Term Care Insurance policies are wonderful. They are basically savings accounts for seniors. When you pay the policy premium, funds are socked […]

It Sneaks Up On A Person

But fortunately there is a cure. I am talking about loneliness. And as we all know, 2020 dished up loneliness in huge portions. Lately this is the main thing I hear when adult children call me with concern for Mom or Dad. Loneliness. And we’re not talking about the kind of loneliness from a weekend […]

Just Like My Mom Did

My Mom did such a good job of making the house I grew up in feel like home. I don’t know how she did it exactly, but it was there. That homey feeling. And people tell me we have the same thing at The Willows. A homey feeling. It’s hard to put a finger on […]

The Important Difference

When it comes to senior care communities for Mom or Dad, it’s important to understand the terms used when you’re looking at your options. The Willows is an Assisted Living community but you would be amazed how often folks ask me “How’s your Nursing Home going? I run into this confusion all the time as […]

Please don’t make this costly mistake

And I see it happen way too often. I am talking about people losing out on their Long Term Care insurance policy benefits. And that’s like throwing money away. Let me explain. Long Term Care insurance policies are wonderful. They are basically savings accounts for seniors. When you pay the policy premium, funds are socked […]

The Timeless Charm of New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are timeless and charming for so many reasons. First of all, deep down, we know we’re not going to keep them…not most of them, or not for a whole year anyway. But who cares, right? Secondly, we surely saw our Mom and Dad make them, and who among us does not want […]

The Special Secret of Holidays

When we are kids, we believe that holidays are just for us. Special food, fun, presents, family visits from far and wide – and pretty much all of it is focused on us kids. We are the stars of the show, and it seems like it will go on forever. Then, of course, come a […]

I Can Only Marvel

We all have important jobs, valuable jobs, jobs that make us proud. Some jobs require analytical skill, some require brute strength, some care and compassion. But only one job requires the superior combination of the heart and the mind. That is the job of the health care worker. And never in recent history have health […]

Veteran’s Day Love

Many, many seniors are military veterans. And to them we give the highest honor on this special day. Working here at The Willows, I like to think of all seniors as Life Veterans. And remember, life lasts a lifetime. From the moment we’re born all the way to our cherished elder years. So on this […]

Why We’re In Purple

Come drive by The Willows some evening this month and enjoy the beautiful purple lights shining on our building at 2315 Campbell Drive. These lights will be on every evening in November. And you’ll find our care staff is often dressed in purple this month too. Purple is close to our hearts here at The […]

What You Learn From Seniors

And every bit of it makes your heart melt. You learn that age is not catching – working with seniors does not hasten your own ageing. You learn that seniors have the same inner spark of youth that we still feel. They may use a walker, they may move slowly, they may have a health […]

Food From The Heart

I have to confess, there is a perk that I really did not expect when I began my career at The Willows. We have, hands down, the best restaurant in town, just a few steps from my office. There are some unique things that The Willows does with our restaurant that really sets us apart […]

I Want To Let You In On A Secret

Many of the happiest and most contented residents at the Willows were not keen on the idea of Assisted Living when they first heard of it. After all, who wants to move from a home filled with wonderful memories? Especially since Mom and Dad have seen themselves living in the family home forever. But as […]

Winter for Mom and Dad

Safety. Warmth. Ease. Comfort. Connection. Can you imagine having a job where you get to provide these things for seniors? I get to do that every day, and I love it. But lately, I’ve had some worries with this cooler weather coming in. Every year I meet people that say I want to move into […]

This Stopped Me In My Tracks

I just read an article in a Senior Living publication about how older Americans are feeling less important, even “expendable” from the coronavirus pandemic. This stopped me in my tracks. Can you imagine that? Our seniors feeling this way, when life is already so uncertain? Our very Moms and Dads who raised us, sacrificed for […]

I’ve been looking forward to telling you this

Because it will ease your mind, right now, or in the future. I am talking about senior loved ones – your loved ones – with either current or developing memory issues. Now here is the news – there are people in today’s world who absolutely adore caring for seniors with memory issues. I should know, […]

Jenn’s Invitation

Hi, I’m Jennifer Stanley. If you or anyone in your family is of retirement age I have an invitation for you. You see, I am a retirement insider. Retirement is my job and my life. I can answer your questions, correct your misconceptions, and show you all the overlooked advantages to good retirement living at […]

Who is Jenn?

You have probably seen the signs around Marshalltown saying “Call Jenn.” “Who the heck is Jenn?” Well, that’s me. I am Jennifer Stanley, and I think my story may interest you. I am a lifelong Marshalltown resident. Both of my parents died early in my life. But my sister and brother and I hung in […]