Throughout our lives, we are drawn to beautiful places and peaceful landscapes. We find meaning in meadows and forests, expression in murals and museums, and comfort and joy in furnishing our own abodes including photographs, paintings.

We relax by listening to music, by attending concerts, going to our church, synagogue, mosque or other community gathering space.

And we heal faster when we are provided comfort which goes far beyond the necessary medical treatments, pharmaceuticals, and other measures enabling us to live healthier, longer lives.

In the Autumn of our lives, we cannot always control where we live or who cares for us, depending on our physical and mental conditions, and yet – with thoughtful preparation and embracing innovation in the field of aging and caregiving – can find ways to create environments where our elders (and ourselves) can experience every moment with dignity and joy.

In the first in a series of articles on innovators in this space, I am sharing with you the miraculous story of Pilgrim Place, a community based in Claremont, California where a good friend’s Mom is being cared for in loving and creative ways.

Licensed by the State of California as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Pilgrim Place refers to itself as “the collective spirit of those who value living in an active, spiritually-fulfilling, reflective community, and who have dedicated their lives (locally and globally) as advocates for social change.”

Started in 1915, it has been a home to thousands of who “desire to be active contributors in a reflective vibrant community, who exemplify genuine care for others, who have demonstrated a sustained commitment of service to others through a local or global cause and who value living in a diverse and inclusive community.”

Serving others is what Pilgrim residents have been doing throughout their lives, and once one understands the joy created by serving others, they never want to stop giving, even as they become frailer physically.

Keeping the spirit alive is one of the values that pervades this community which is now over 100 years old itself.

“Residents at Pilgrim Place demonstrate that elders are a rich social resource and in retirement continue to be leaders for justice, peace and environmental activism,” and within the hundreds of homes located within the beautiful neighborhood, and in the assisted living apartments, and in the Health Services Center where skilled nursing, physical therapy and other medical care is provided, community members know they will always be cared for and included, even as they move from the Autumn into the Winter of their lives, and onto the next domain whatever they believe it to be, or not.

All faiths and belief systems are welcomed at Pilgrim Place, which is also a part of the larger Claremont community vibe, where the entire town, including the many Claremont Colleges, are made friendly to older adults, physically challenged, and economically diverse.

We cannot overestimate the impact beauty and peacefulness have on not only the healing process for patients, but on the sense of purpose, belonging and commitment to service felt by the medical, caregiving and administrative team members across the entire healthcare industry.

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing examples of visionaries like Pilgrim Place – hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care organizations, cancer treatment centers and more—who take a holistic approach to creating a truly beautiful environment through art, architecture, gardens, galleries, music, creative activities and more and the proven impact investments in truly healing environments generate.