Promoting Healthy Aging at Tamarisk NorthShore

Tamarisk NorthShore (TNS)—240 elegant apartment homes in Deerfield—offers tastefully elegant surroundings, a convenient location, and enviable management by CJE SeniorLife. It is a vibrant community, and its desirable amenities and full complement of Life Enrichment activities are indeed something to boast about. Appealing to residents who desire the added value of personalized lifestyle choices, Tamarisk certainly delivers. A focus on Life Enrichment has always been the centerpiece of CJE’s programming. As an organization we know that staying engaged and active keeps people healthier as they age. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites a recent study* that found isolation and poor social relationships are associated with an increased risk of dementia (50%), heart disease (29%), and stroke (32%). The CDC recommends people connect to community resources and utilize healthcare interventions to prevent such loneliness.

Promoting Healthy Aging at Tamarisk NorthShore

At TNS, residents have many Life Enrichment programs and resources to choose from because there is an overarching vision that creates an environment conducive to residents participating in all types of endeavors. The warm and welcoming physical spaces are where residents can choose to socialize, attend educational programs, read quietly in a cozy library, or have a drink with friends. Tamarisk also features a creative arts studio, a theatre room with a big screen and plush seats, an indoor pool, day spa, and wide-open terraces for walking or dining alfresco.

Laurie Gens, the Director of Life Enrichment, was one of the first staff members hired by Executive Director Drew Kowalski who charged her with developing, promoting, delivering and coordinating what the Tamarisk lifestyle would encompass. Laurie, who has a background in hospitality, sees this as her mission and says, “We literally had our Community Calendar up and running on Day One of our opening.” And that calendar is important because, as she notes, “Most residents don’t just move in and find their activities automatically, unlike members of younger generations who are often adept at using all their apps and devices to make connections. Even though some residents are connected on their mobile phones, Tamarisk residents may need a little help.”

That’s where Laurie comes in. After developing the calendar, she uploads it onto Sagely, Tamarisk’s digital information platform, which is on display throughout the community and which can also be accessed on mobile phones. Laurie is determined to make sure that Tamarisk residents don’t stay up in their apartment when there are so many opportunities to meet people and have fun. If she notices someone is isolating, she will proactively reach out. Laurie’s philosophy of engagement also stresses individuality, because as she explains: “Living in an independent senior community, residents can become as involved or as ‘relaxed’ as they wish. It’s a personal thing, and some people are more outgoing than others.” Of course, the naturally exuberant Laurie prefers that residents were as active as possible with a full dance card of activities to fill their days and evenings!

“Living in an independent senior community, residents can become as involved or as ‘relaxed’ as they wish. It’s a personal thing, and some people are more outgoing than others.”
—Laurie Gens, Life Enrichment Director, Tamarisk NorthShore

Laurie emphasizes that she doesn’t plan activities randomly. Rather, Life Enrichment programming focuses on a model that helps residents grow and stay healthy in the Eight Dimensions of Wellness: Emotional, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual, Financial, Environmental, and Occupational. Residents’ desires are always considered when planning and developing the calendar. At the same time, Laurie is working with her team and other staff to coordinate all the available life enrichment resources across CJE which has decades of experience in enhancing the lives of seniors. A good example is a curriculum called Foundations for Wellness, covering the above eight dimensions, that she developed in conjunction with CJE’s Leonard Schanfield Research Institute (LSRI). LSRI’s Senior Director Margaret Danilovich, PhD, is presenting monthly 90-minute classes that review all dimensions in depth. Another example is “Cardio Club,” a 30-minute gathering where residents can learn how to use the cardio machines and benefit from utilizing workout buddies.

The variety and number of classes, presentations, and activities are growing daily. There’s Water Movement in the pool, Yoga on land, and Jewish culture and music with local rabbi/cantor Nancy Landsman. There is also a parade of online events that CJE’s Community Engagement Team has developed for its Cyber Club (see page 5-6). Recently, TNS residents participated in an online tour of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, a Lyric Opera Series over Zoom, and the highly popular “Yiddish Tish,” developed by volunteer Jay Lewkowitz. Tamarisk is also partnering with CJE to present classes from One Day University®, a program that offers hundreds of live and on-demand classes taught by respected professors. Starting in December, residents can take part in “Next Year in Jerusalem,” devoted to music, sights and sounds of Israel.

Excursions are also a big part of the Tamarisk Life Enrichment experience. The new Tamarisk bus was inaugurated with a road trip to a summer picnic at Ryerson Woods, and a trip to Graeter’s Ice Cream in Northbrook. Also, residents who were new to the area—many from out-of-state—were treated to a bus tour of Deerfield, Highland Park, and Buffalo Grove, with more destinations planned.

Despite strict COVID precautions, life goes on here—actively and passionately. The future is bright for Life Enrichment at Tamarisk NorthShore!

Tamarisk NorthShore, a CJE SeniorLife Managed Community, is located at 1627 Lake Cook Rd. in Deerfield. Tours are by appointment only. To schedule a tour or for more information, see our website at, call 847.597.8772 or email

* National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.