Just as it would be with anyone looking for a new home, boomers and seniors are exploring retirement living options that not only offer amenities that suit their needs and lifestyle, but also great neighbors and a community where they can feel a part of something bigger.
Just as you might enjoy the park or recreation center near your new home, retirees are seeking programs and activities within the communities that give them the opportunity to stay active – both physically and mentally – and join in experiences that may give them a new lease on life.
Fairwood Retirement Village
As happy and comfortable as life in a retirement community may be, many seniors still enjoy getting out and exploring new places. Fairwood Retirement Village offers their active residents a one-of-a-kind travel program that lets them see places near and far.
Director of Activites Sheri Maier has escorted residents on cruises to Alaska, Hawaii and the Panama Canal, and excursions to New England, Maine, Nova Scotia and Quebec. Closer to home, they’ll load up Fairwood’s private 40-foot luxury coach for trips not only around the Inland Northwest, but to destinations such as Montana, Calgary, Banff and the Oregon Coast.
Once a year, Maier gets together with residents interested in travel and they decide the itinerary for their latest adventures. They plan several each year, and residents look forward to them so much that some have been known to pack their bags in anticipation months in advance.
The trips are available to Fairwood residents, who are healthy enough to travel, as well as their friends and family members. Maier makes sure that trips are affordable for everyone, often available at cost. They are all-inclusive vacations including transportation, meals, lodging, admissions and gratuities. The goal, Maier says, is to take the headache out of travel.
“It works well because people like to travel with other members of the community that they know. It’s great for their spirit and keeps them young and active.”
Broadway Court Estates and Colonial Court
Broadway Court Estates and Colonial Court, Spokane Valley retirement communities owned and managed by the Sarff Family, offer comprehensive wellness programs that may benefit any senior, regardless of fitness level or ability. Those suffering from joint pain find relief during aquatic aerobics classes. The indoor pool is open 365 days a year and kept at a comfortable 85 degrees, so wellness may be pursued no matter the season. Falls are a concern for many seniors, which is why Broadway Court Estates includes yoga and Tai Chi in their exercise repertoire. Both of these can dramatically improve balance, stability and posture.
Certified fitness instructors guide tenants through a nine-piece circuit training gym at least three times per week. “When we first started this program there were a lot [of tenants] needing our help. Now they’re realizing how easily the machines can be adapted to their fitness level, so they’re using the equipment whenever they want to,” says Mike Lee, owner of Global Fitness and lead trainer of the Broadway Court Estates circuit gym. “We still like to be here for those who are new or need help modifying their routines, but it’s good to see more and more people taking the initiative to improve their health.”
Wellness programs help seniors stay independent longer, but for some, Assisted Living may still be the best option. Colonial Court is a community focused on providing a higher level of quality care in a home like setting. It is often thought that those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s are now limited. Colonial Court also has a wellness focus for the whole person on a daily basis. Low impact, adaptive Sit and Be Fit programs help residents to strengthen the muscles and their mind.
Not every resident in a retirement community requires the same amount of care. For those seniors that are still active but may require a helping hand with daily medications or personal care, there is light-assisted living.
At Evergreen Fountains, the light assisted living program is specifically designed for residents in the independent living apartments who need limited medial assistant. According to Gene Arger, it makes for a smooth transition for those who may eventually move into the formal assisted living wing. Some people actually get stronger and more capable to the point where they can return to independent living arrangements.
Light assisted living is licensed and regulated by the State of Washington. It allows for more independent residents to access assistance for scheduled and predictable medical tasks such as medication monitoring or dressing and bathing. Assisted living residents receive call pendants and should emergency needs arise, help is close at hand.
“It’s a difficult decision to get help and we like to give our residents as much control and choice over their own life and decisions as they can,” says Evergreen Fountains Director of Nursing Debbie Bergquam. “Light Assisted Living residents are sill part of assisted living; we’re just getting our arms around them and keeping a closer eye on them.”
“The same as in full assisted living, our goal is to meet their needs for health and happiness in all areas of life,” Bergquam adds. “We want to keep them safe while giving them as much freedom of choice as possible.”
Garden Plaza of Post Falls
Moving to a retirement community doesn’t mean settling for a sterile, cookie cutter environment. As general manager Brian Teed aptly describes it, living at Garden Plaza of Post Falls is like going on vacation to a mountain lodge.
Boosting well over 300 units, Garden Plaza offers independent living, assisted-living and skilled nursing care. Opened in November of 2009, they are the flagship community in the western half of the United States for Century Park Associates, which helps seniors live active, vibrant lives at some 45 properties across the country.
The rejuvenating atmosphere features cascading fountains, large courtyards, cozy libraries where residents play cards and chat, and rustic yet functional furniture. Fireplaces are all handmade by stonemasons; pillars are hand cut by skilled woodworkers.
Being centrally located between Spokane and Couer d’Alene means residents can partake in shopping and cultural activities in both communities. The regularly take outings to see plays and symphony performances, and even journey up to Sandpoint on occasion. But there’s no need to travel far when there’s so much to explore so close to home.
“It inspires our residents to seek new ways to live life,” Teed says. “This environment provides a platform that is not only comfortable, it’s inspirational for them.”
Good SamaritanSociety – Spokane Valley
Good Samaritan Society is actively involved and dedicated to making the Good Samaritan Community and surrounding area a wonderful place to live. The mission of their campus and residents is to serve the community through projects involving the residents.
Residents participate in Meals on Wheels, and a group of residents make blankets for Shriner’s Hospital and the YWCA Transitional Housing project. When the group drops off the blankets, the joy that their project brings is better than any arthritis medication that can be taken. In fact, a grant was written for $1,000 from Good Samaritan Society Social Accountability for more material and supplies, so that even more blankets can be made.
Every Wednesday and Friday afternoon, residents enjoy fellowship while creating these blankets. A number of women from Independent and Assisted Living, as well as the Care Center, come together every other Thursday to knit. The group has discussed the possibilities of also making caps or blankets for newborns.
Two groups of residents work with local school kids on their reading, letter writing and socialization skills. Another recent project was to send Christmas cards and small gifts to service men and women that couldn’t be home for the holidays. During the upcoming year they will be working on projects for the Union Gospel Mission and Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Suffice it to say, there’s never a dull moment at Good Samaritan Society. And that’s just how they like it.
The residents of Harbor Crest, a full-service senior apartment community located on Spokane’s South Hill, have a passion for giving back. A perfect example are the little wooden toy trucks that are lovingly carved, painted, and assembled 365 days of the year by the Hoo-Hoo Club members.
Hoo-Hoo Trucks – so far over 2,000, are given out every year to area organizations and missions. These little trucks are made with so much care and detail, that the trucks will not only survive a child’s play time, but can be passed down for years to come as family heirlooms.
Jack Eskeberg, a retired wood shop teacher from Roosevelt Elementary, can be found in Harbor Crest’s Wood Shoppe any day of the week, carving toy dump trucks from wood donated by a former Dellwood CEO. Jack and his many helpers, Harbor Crest residents, some family members, Harbor Crest employees and community volunteers, come together every week to paint trucks as a group and share their latest news with each other.
The group has grown in numbers since 2007, and continues to increase in volunteers as more people become aware of just how much these little trucks can change the life of a child who is without.
Intelligently and artfully designed and crafted, the custom homes at Meadow Ranch, a planned community in Coeur d’Alene for the 55-and-better set, range from 800-2,400 square feet, and are built to the stringent guidelines of the United States Green Building Council. They are also built for Energy Start Certification and are surpassing their minimum standards for energy efficiency.
“Right off the bat, the residents will be saving money in energy. Their homes are designed using natural materials, so there’s also a health benefit,” says Sharon Cunningham, director of sales and marketing.
Not only is Meadow Ranch a great place to call home, it’s a perfect setting for snowbirds and travelers who want to be free of maintenance chores, but have a cozy address to which they can return. “They may have a small place down in Florida, California or Arizona, and they come up here during the summer,” Cunningham says, “They may want to downsize and they want simplicity.”
Active West Builders developed Meadow Ranch as a “rural oasis” for active older adults. A refurbished 1940’s dairy barn and 80-year old windmill are the cornerstones of this quaint neighborhood.
When the weather is nice, you’ll see people visiting their neighbors, gardening and picking fresh fruits and vegetables in the community orchard. It’s what some Meadow Ranch residents refer to as “Porch Living.” It’s a return to a slower pace and quieter time when being a good neighbor was more than an insurance company slogan.
Park Tower Apartments
Today’s older adults did not grow up in a high-tech world. But, that’s not stopping them from using computers to connect with friends and family, search for health related information, explore world news and events, shop, and play games. They’re quick to discover that using a computer to connect to the Internet is a wonderful way to learn new things and stay connected with life in an expanded way.
“Technology is in every part of our lives and if you don’t have access to a computer, you’re in trouble,” says Karen Heppler, Neighborhood Network Coordinator with Goodale and Barbieri Company, which oversees an onsite technology center at Park Tower Apartments independent living community.
“In our centers, we have the benefit of not only having the computer center, but also the service coordinators who work with the people to get onto the computer and understand the technology.”
The Park Tower computer center is equipped with 10 computers, as well as a color printer, fax machine and copier. Residents not only get a free secure personal email account, they also have access to computers hooked up with web-cameras so they can stay connected via video chats with family and friends outside the area. “It makes them feel much less isolated,” Heppler says.
Heppler says working and playing on the computers is not only a fun experience, but helps them to stay active mentally and socialize with others.
Rockwood Retirement Communities
Rockwood South Hill has taken the idea of connecting with residents to a new level.
Turn on any television set in the community, and one of the most popular channels is RKWD, Rockwood South Hill’s in-house TV station. Staff and residents contribute to its content, which includes activity and program announcements, exercise classes, documentaries, custom profiles of residents, and lots of other Rockwood entertainment.
The programs are all filmed in Rockwood’s own television studio. Communication Manager Beck Monitz currently oversees the station with the assistance of editor Carl James. Residents are also involved behind the scenes on the productions. One project involves residents interviewing their friends and neighbors on camera about their life stories. Another show focused on Expo ‘74 as many of the people involved in the event made their home at Rockwood South Hill.
Activity announcements, menus, daily schedules and service reminders are displayed in between the programs. Along with the background music, residents voice the announcements.
RKWD has received high ratings from resident viewers. They’ll often suggest movies and music for future broadcasts. According to Moonitz, in a recent resident survey, the station received the highest score in adding value to the life at the community.
“It’s a lot of fun for everyone,” Moonitz says. “It strengthens the feel of being able to connect with what’s going on with the community on a daily basis and to be part of that.”
With just 88 deluxe apartments and 16 luxury villas, Rockwood Lane, operated by Catholic Charities Spokane, is the perfect size for a vibrant and neighborly retirement community. The intimate size fosters a personal setting where independent, active seniors feel cherished and safe.
“There’s a great community spirit,” says property manager Jeanette McNalley. “The residents truly support each other and create their own sense of being here within the community.”
Every day there’s something new on the activity board, from water aerobics and yoga classes to fashion shows, bingo games and group outings. A perfect example of the closeness of the community members happened this past Veteran’s Day when residents who had served in the military talked about their experiences fighting for our country in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
A recent survey of residents showed that one reason they moved there in the first place was the freedom of maintenance-free living arrangements. Once they had settled in to their new home, what kept them in the community was the fact that they had great neighbors; people who cared and looked out for them.
“Our residents really seem to be thriving,” McNalley says. “It can be overwhelming to move into an apartment after you’ve lived in your own home for a long while. That welcoming support really helps ease the transition.”
Touchmark on South Hill
Virtually every retirement community today has an “activities program” that offers readymade events. While this traditional approach can fill people’s days, Touchmark on South Hill (formerly known as Waterford on South Hill) believes that much more is needed to fulfill people.
One of the residents most popular activities is getting together with friends at The Clock.
The Clock is a sports bar recently opened within the community where staff members and residents gather for happy hour each Friday. The name comes from the old Crescent department store in downtown Spokane where people would often say to each other, “Meet me under the clock” referring to an ornate timekeeper that marked the center of the store and the heart of the community.
The Clock at Touchmark is just as much a central gathering place. Beer, wine and mixed drinks are served as well a selection of tasty snacks. On the walls are school and university pennants, and the big screen TVs show live action from the Zags, Cougs, Mariners and Seahawks.
“It’s a place where those of us who help out, look forward to that time each week,” says Jeffrey P. Bair, executive director of Touch Mark on South Hill, who also tends bar on occasion. “It’s a special time when we see residents from all over the community come in, get to know each other and hang out for a couple of hours.”
“We also have people coming to this who are just considering our community, and the can join in and get to know some of the residents. We also welcome family members and guests,” Bair adds. “It’s just a great place for people to meet up and share things in common regardless of their origins or their age.”