"And the winner is ..." closed the last senior housing blog for Joan's Journey, so it's only fair to lead with this phrase. Hang with me readers for a few hundred words. I will share insights of my two least favorite senior residences, my three favorite senior housing corporations, my second-favorite residence and "the winner."
First, why am I using the metaphor of a contest to describe my senior housing decision? The answer is simple. Like a contest, after a period of thorough and concentrated elimination, finding senior housing that's a fit is like winning a fabulous prize. My research, assisted by knowledgeable SeniorHomes.com counselors, and my time and travel are well worth the effort.
Readers, I have a disclaimer. The following senior housing impressions and opinions are strictly my own and are in no way influenced by SeniorHomes.com. Moreover, I visited each location once. Perhaps if I visited again, or if you as journeyer visited the residences, our opinions may be different. That's why my mantra is "Research, Visit, Investigate" (RVI).
Here’s What I Found
The greater Seattle area is famous for its beautiful and lush greenery and its 300+ days of moisture from mist, drizzle, rain and some snow. Dampness and mustiness can be a problem in poorly insulated, cooled or heated dwellings. Fortunately, my driver and I found this problem at only one senior community.
From the moment we entered the residence, the musty odor was prominent. The driver was a few months pregnant and the scent was so strong she had to wait outside. As I toured, I found the residence to be clean and cheerful, with friendly staff and residents. But the mustiness persisted in the hallways and apartments I visited. In addition, the view from the balcony of one of the "prize" apartments faced the garbage bins along the alley adjacent to the apartment. Readers, it's mantra time: RVI.
My second least-favorite residence, located in the greater Los Angeles area, was unacceptable due to its insufficient mobility access and safety. Some doorways were not wide enough for wheelchair passage. In the apartments I visited, the shower stalls were not large enough for shower chairs. Just as troubling, there were no grab bars in the showers or bathroom areas. When I questioned the representative leading my tour, she answered that the building is classified as "independent living" and therefore does not have to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Let's mantra: RVI.
My Top Three Favorites
Moving on. My three favorite senior housing corporations, in alphabetical order, are: 1) Atria Senior Living, 2) Brookdale Senior Living and 3) Holiday Retirement. I have visited multiple senior housing residences owned and/or managed by these corporations. The residences are lovely, with updated and pleasant apartments and grounds. I enjoyed excellent food and met cheerful, friendly, knowledgeable staff, and residents who said they are happy in their senior housing. Holiday has the added value for its residents to vacation at any one of the 300+ Holiday senior residences in the United States and Canada.
With a smile on my face, I'll share with you that my second favorite residence is the fabulous Bellettini, a Leisure Care retirement community in Bellevue, WA. Located in the heart of urban Bellevue, a town quite close to Seattle and Mercer Island where my son and three grandchildren live, The Bellettini is an independent living residence with all the touches of home.
The apartments are modern and spacious, with upscale finishing touches. The entry vestibule and lobby are beautiful, and the two restaurants boast of delicious dining, although while visiting I did not have time for a meal. Activities for residents abound, as do amenities. Doormen are available to park your car and assist with bringing packages to your apartment. I love The Bellettini, but the area weather does not love my chronic arthritis.
And The Winner Is…
And the winner is The Village of Northridge, an SRG Senior Living community in warm, lovely Northridge, CA, in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County. The Village is about two years old and sports an Internet Café with computers, coffee and refreshments, a wide-screen television and refreshments of fruits, cookies and more. In addition, a fun "Family Room" is especially equipped for young children who visit their grandparents.
The Village has an outdoor swimming pool, day spa, a casual and more formal restaurant, exercise room, activity rooms and luxury apartments with washer/dryers and balconies. Staff are friendly and residents happily engaged in many activities I find physically and mentally interesting and stimulating.
Frankly, the Internet Café, the Family Room, the modern apartments with balconies, and the diversity of interesting activities sold me on the community. The residents I met who said they enjoy the lifestyle at The Village closed the deal. The finishing touch is the availability of transportation that can be arranged at no cost to take residents to locations within a 10-mile radius. Since my son, daughter-in-law and precious toddler grandson live within this radius, The Village is my winner.
The Journey Continues
Having revealed my "prize" from the greater Seattle and Los Angeles areas, I still need to explore the greater San Francisco Bay area, where my daughter lives. Thus, Joan's Journey continues.
For now, Happy Spring, Joan's Journey readers! The mild mid-Atlantic weather brought the first potential buyers to my condo today. My agent assures me that every residence sells eventually. That means it's time for spring condo closet cleaning and serious downsizing -- the topic of our next Joan's Journey installment. I'll check with the experts and give you the scoop!
Joan London is a freelance writer who lives in suburban Baltimore with her kitty-cat copy editor, Mia. London knows her potential choice of a future residence in Northridge, CA, is taunting fate, for Northridge was quite near the epicenter of the damaging 1994 Northridge earthquake. London's philosophy as a senior is Carpe Diem -- seize the day! Join the discussion at the SeniorHomes.com blog or email your questions to [email protected].
Read part six of Joan's Journey: Downsizing--A Trip Down Memory Lane.