Trezevant Celebrates 40 Years, Expanded Services

By Michael Waddell

For Jet Thompson, living at the Trezevant senior living community is part of a family tradition. She has been a resident there for the past 16 years – recently celebrating her 96th birthday – her mother had lived there for 20 years starting in 1981, and now two of her daughters are on the waiting list for admission.

Trezevant, a senior living community on North Highland Street, has grown over the years to consist of 14 acres, with an expansion in 2008 that tripled its size. (Submitted)

“My mother loved it, and it’s improved a lot since then,” said Thompson, who made the decision to move to Trezevant because she didn’t want to be dependent on her children. “I really can’t tell you enough about the feeling that this is a community. Even if you don’t know some of the people, you know them by sight.”

Trezevant, located at 177 N. Highland St., is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the facility is continuing to grow with recent new hires, the addition of an onsite pharmacy for residents and several new recreational offerings to improve their health and wellbeing.

The campus opened near the end of 1976 on 3 acres. Its original construction consisted of 200 small, independent living apartments in a tower. Edward H. Little established Trezevant to honor his wife, Suzanne Trezevant Little, who devoted much of her adult life to philanthropic efforts in Memphis and throughout the U.S. focusing on schools, colleges, churches and hospitals.

Shortly after its opening, a small nursing home was built on a single floor.

Over the years, Trezevant has grown to consist of 14 acres, with a major expansion in 2008 that tripled the size of its campus, including a four-story building called The Terrace to house assisted living and memory-support residents.

Trezevant hosted an event Friday, June 9, to honor Memphis Police officers and first responders. Pictured are (left to right) Trezevant resident Betty Carter, Lt. Latanya Able, officer Raymond Geronimo, Trezevant fitness coordinator Rinnie Wood, officer Brian Hall, officer Godfrey Howard, resident Gigi Chandler and deputy director Mike Ryall. (Submitted)

Today, the continuing care retirement community serves around 480 residents at all levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, dementia and skilled nursing. The facility employs more than 400 people, and new hires this year include a recreational therapist, licensed social workers, a grants coordinator and director of nursing.

“One of the most significant things to happen on this campus in the past year is we have really stepped up our game and moved our health care services up a notch with the hiring of several physicians,” said Trezevant CEO Kent Phillips. “One of them is a new recreational therapist that runs the activities programming and recreational therapy programming for our health care side, and we’ve doubled our number of social workers.”

The new pharmacy opened up in March.

“It’s a wonderful addition. We’re the only retirement community in Memphis that has an onsite pharmacy that can serve all of our residents at all levels of care,” said Paul Martin, Trezevant’s director of health care operations. “We also have just opened up a retail outlet for all of our independent living residents as well. We’re in an environment where pharmacies are significantly cutting back on the number of deliveries that they will make to retirement communities, so our response to that is just to have our own internal pharmacy so that our residents never have to leave the building.”

To help improve residents’ mental, emotional and physical acuity, Trezevant now offers tai chi, yoga, core exercises and even gardening. Parkinson’s patients can participate in “Rock Steady Boxing” to improve strength and balance.

“What we’re seeing with people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s is that Rock Steady Boxing helps delay the progression of the disease,” Martin said. “Obviously it doesn’t cure it or stop it, but we’re seeing a tremendous impact with people being able to stay independent longer, and being able to reduce the amount of medication they are taking, for their Parkinson’s in particular.”

Tai chi and yoga exercises help residents with balance and can reduce the number of falls.

Thompson enjoys the social interaction between the community’s nearly 500 residents. She plays bridge three times each week, meets friends at happy hour on campus and works in the chapel.

“There are all kinds of things to do and pleasant people to do them with,” Thompson said.

Social programming is a very important aspect of Trezevant’s mission, according to Phillips.

“We want to make every availability to our residents to socialize as much as possible because from a holistic standpoint, that’s the best thing we can do to improve their daily life,” he said.

Next up this year for Trezevant is the renovation of a 4,000-square-foot area in the health care center that will be converted into a dedicated chapel.

The organization also owns additional land nearby that might be developed for a future expansion.