Traditionally, the language of retirement is “I’m done.” But the new conversations of those in their later years—especially baby boomers—is different. It’s “What do I want to do next?”
If you’ve realized you need to move somewhere that makes things easier for you, but don’t want to give up your freedom, you’re like a lot of other seniors today. Retirement communities offer you the freedom to live in a place that meets your needs while maintaining your independence.
All of the worries of homeownership are gone—you no longer have to worry about taking care of the yard, cleaning the gutters and blowing out the sprinklers. Rather than spending time on the mundane chores of daily living like grocery shopping, cooking meals and cleaning house, you are free to enjoy all of the fun things you’ve always wanted to do.
As a senior real estate specialist with EXL Realty, Kathy Bryant helps seniors transition from one kind of home to another. There’s no black and white answer, she says, as to whether it’s time to move to a retirement community, but there are clues that it might be time to start thinking about the option.
Are you fully utilizing your home? Are you isolated? Are you no longer able to drive yourself to appointments? Has working in your kitchen become a burden? Are the things that you used to do easily now a challenge? Are there added stresses in your life associated with living alone or being less mobile? If the answers are yes, then a retirement community may be your best option.
“When I visit my clients who’ve moved from their home to a new home in a retirement community, I find that they are happier, more active and really just getting the most out of enjoying life,” Bryant says.
“When you realize how much more time and freedom you’ll have to spend time with the grandkids, join a club, volunteer for a cause you believe in—and do all the things you’ve always wanted to, then it’s a whole new beginning and there’s all these great things to which you can look forward.”
Before we get to talking about advantages of retirement communities, let’s look at an option that’s available to help seniors be more independent if they decide to stay at home.
Studies show that 80 percent of adults 75 and older prefer to age in place in their own home because they are familiar with their surroundings, and that’s where they feel most comfortable. To do that, they may need some support, and that’s where in-home care services fill a very significant need.
“We’re really there to ensure their safety and wellness … we want to make sure that the person is aging comfortably in their home as long as possible,” says Tiffany Murphy, owner of Senior Helpers.
Caregivers can help with such tasks as eating and bathing, cooking and cleaning, and running errands. They can provide a range of non-skilled or skilled medical services, from checking vital signs to nutrition therapy and wound care. Especially if family is out of the area, knowing that caregivers are making regular visits and can report on their client’s condition can ease the worries that go with continuing care of a loved one.
Maintaining good nutrition is crucial to aging well. With an emphasis on quality, freshness and variety, retirement communities are offering delicious and healthy menus created by registered dietitians and prepared by skilled chefs. You could say they’re adding a little spice to life.
“When you are sedentary, or you’re going through the same old same old routine for a meal, you’re not hugely motivated. Every day, we make sure there’s something on the menu that’s going to spark the resident’s interest,” says Lisa VanMansum, communications coordinator at Rockwood Retirement Communities.
At Rockwood Retirement Communities, it’s not just what you eat, but where. Residents can choose from themed restaurants including Ember’s Grill, Rocky’s Café (coffee shop), Fireside Lounge (bistro style dining) and Livingston’s (fine dining). Meals are made to order with seasonal and local ingredients. There’s even an onsite community garden where fresh vegetables and herbs are grown. One of the menu favorites uses fresh-picked vine-ripened tomatoes for delicious bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
“There’s constantly something new and fresh and exciting,” says VanMansum. “It’s all about choice, independence and social connection.”
At Broadway Court Estates you’ll find residents knitting hats, mittens and prayer blankets and collecting socks. They’re always making something crafty or baking something yummy. They’re proving that there are social, emotional, and even physical health benefits of volunteering.
Much of their work goes to support local charities whether it be donating the items they make or the proceeds collected from their sale. Among the organizations benefiting from the residents’ generosity have been Spokane Hospice House; Soul to Soles, whose mission is to provide new socks and shoes to needy children; Tom’s Turkey Drive and Blessings Under the Bridge. They also raised enough funds to send 30 kids to the Union Gospel Mission Camp.
“Our residents are so generous with their talents and their time. They truly are seniors with a purpose,” says marketing director Jodi Silva. “It may be the season of giving, but our residents give back all year long. It keeps them independent and active and provides a real sense of community.”
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a retirement community, the residents at Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society Spokane Valley (better known as Good Sam) invite you to join some of their get-togethers.
It’s not just happenings on campus—they visit local restaurants, explore local museums and go on excursions to scenic spots like Turnbull Wildlife Refuge and Palouse Falls. One of most anticipated outings is to the Traditions of Christmas, a Radio City Music Hall style holiday spectacular put on each December at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene.
The ladies at Good Sam were recently treated to a spa day where they were pampered and made to feel wonderful.
But don’t worry about the guys, they get their special times too. They go fishing together, attend ballgames and even toast to their good health at a local watering hole. “Usually, the guys don’t want to go much by themselves, though,” says resource development and marketing director Claudia Ouwerkirk. “They like the ladies to come along with. I’m honored to be a part of their lives and to hear their stories—that’s important to making sure that they know that they are loved and values, and can be at peace here on campus.”
A growing number of seniors are more active and joining retirement communities at an earlier age. Independent living communities such as Revel Spokane, Villages at Stonehill and the newly opened Skywalk Addition at Evergreen Fountains, fill the desire for those seeking the ultimate in stress-free living.
“If people choose to move from their neighborhood home into a condo, they’re essentially trading a house for a house,” explains Ann Byers, executive director at Revel Spokane. Along with 132 studio, one- and two-bedroom upscale residences, Revel features resort-like amenities including a spa, fitness studio, movie theatre and even a social club.
It’s a whole different culture that Revel calls “Lumin living,” addressing the social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical and vocational aspects of their residents.
“People don’t come here to age in place,” says Byers. “They come here to grow in place and do all the things that you’ve wanted to do now that you have the freedom and independence.
“We have socialization like nobody’s business,” she says. “People can be private in their apartments, but they can come out and socialize, make new friends and have that invigoration to keep their brains and bodies healthy.”
Another independent living option is an active adult community. The Pinnacles neighborhood, at the Villages at Stonehill, in Liberty Lake isn’t much different from any other residential neighborhood, aside from 55+ age requirement and that its specifically designed with a retirement-friendly, low-maintenance lifestyle in mind.
“There are a lot of people who want a single family home, but they want somebody else to do the maintenance,” says community sale director Jake Spencer.
The Pinnacles offers five floor plans ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet, and to accommodate aging in place, they are designed for one-level living. There’s no need for upgrades—standard features include hardwood floors and kitchens with high-end quartz countertops and premium appliances.
While similar units in senior communities are only available for rent, these are for sale—basically, you’re investing in a home of your own without the responsibilities of being a homeowner, notes Spencer. Management takes care of the property and buildings—they even wash the windows.
Many of the owners at the Pinnacles travel or spend winters in warmer climates. One of the advantages is that the homes are set up so people can have peace of mind that everything will be secure and they can just lock the door and go.
One thing seniors shouldn’t worry about is the future. Evergreen Fountain, in Spokane Valley, offers a variety of lifestyle options from assisted and light assisted for those that require more help with the routine of daily living, to independent living apartments and cottages. The Skywalk—aptly named because it connects to the main building by an enclosed walkway—continues Evergreen Fountain’s mission of helping residents gain independence and live healthier lives.
The new building features a courtyard with walking trails, a putting green, raised garden beds, and a patio surrounded by plenty of grassy areas. The one, two and three bedroom plans feature walk-in closets, personal washer/dryer sets, balconies and full kitchens with modern appliances. Residents have full access to Evergreen Fountain’s indoor pool and fitness center, movie theater, computer lab, chapel, dining room and Athena’s Cabaret—a wine tasting and entertainment room with live music.
“The baby boomer generation is very active and demanding these type of amenities,” says Gene Arger, Evergreen Fountains co-owner and marketing director.
“You can move here and be here for a long time because you can transition to a different living space,” Arger says. “It’s about finding the right fit for residents to give them a good quality of life.”
Share this entry
Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living
157 S Howard | Suite 603
Spokane WA 99201
Catering and Management
The Hidden Ballroom
Loft at the Flour Mill
Hangar Event Center
180 S Howard
Spokane, WA 99201
The Hidden Ballroom
39 W Pacific | Spokane WA 99201
Loft at the Flour Mill
621 W Mallon, 7th Floor | Spokane WA 99201
Hangar Event Center
6905 E Rutter Ave | Spokane WA 99212