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If the Mountain Won’t Come

Ease of access to amenities and integration into the community is key for smoothing the transition from one’s own home to a Senior Community. Building close to grocery stores, drugstores, banks and other in-demand amenities is commonplace. More and more, companies are including these services and amenities into independent and assisted living residences.

“Mobility is an issue as residents age, and we believe building a home for residents that incorporates amenities spaces within the building is critical for an engaging and healthy lifestyle,” says Lena Foran, Director of Sales and Marketing at Berwick Retirement Communities.

“There are many factors to consider when thinking of developing a seniors’ community. A location close to amenities is critical, and all developers try to accommodate this. Where we are not able to accommodate this, we would look at addressing the distance to amenities – hence our buses in locations like Summerland or Kamloops Seniors Village,” adds Lorraine Chow, Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Operations at Retirement Concepts.

Nanaimo Seniors Village includes a salon and coffee shop in its building, and the nearest shopping mall and grocery stores are a quick drive or bus ride away. Guildford Seniors Village is located just blocks from Guildford Town Centre, and Langley Seniors Village is adjacent to major one-stop shopping centres.

However, today’s boomer population wants access to the best facilities and amenities available, and companies like Berwick, PARC and Retirement Concepts spend a considerable amount of time researching and developing new ways to provide this. In addition to a shuttle, Berwick offers a “Berwick about Town” service, which includes complimentary use of a hybrid vehicle with driver for safe and easy access to appointments and events.

At the newest Berwick Facility, Campbell River’s Berwick by the Sea, there is a 35-seat movie theatre, a staffed fitness room, library, dining room and self-serve bistro. Berwick by the Sea is in the heart of downtown, close to favourite pubs and shops, and only minutes from the ferry terminal.

Thoughtfully developed and modern fitness spaces are also in demand. Tony Baena, VP of Strategic Growth and Development for PARC Living explains that all of their residences have an emphasis on fitness programs, with their newest residence (White Rock) planned to incorporate a public-access community fitness centre, specially designed for seniors.

“We know that maintaining an active healthy lifestyle actually helps slow down the aging process, so we spend a lot of time designing programs and developing the exercise spaces to include, not so much heavy equipment, but lighter, resistance equipment. We also have personal trainers that work with residents providing a tailored program/fitness activity, guiding them and checking with them periodically,” says Baena.

Retirement communities also place plenty of emphasis on creating outdoor access, whether for gardening or access to public walking trails and beaches.

“We focus on spaces that allow residents to have an engaging and healthy lifestyle, and on building beautiful spaces for residents to enjoy both indoors and outdoors; hence we incorporate walking trails around the property, gardens, patio spaces and views,” says Foran.

Also in demand are a variety of dining options and nutritious foods. Baena and his team have taken note and are developing an upgraded dining program, with options for fine dining, casual dining and a grab-and-go-style bistro. This will provide options for a formal dinner setting, watching the big game with a plate of wings, or grabbing a quick snack after a busy day.

“There’s a lot of research being done on what seniors like. A lot comes out of United States and more and more is coming out of Canada, so there is a general census. We’re in the process right now of talking to a third party to plan some data analysis to get down to the nitty gritty in terms of what future residents are looking for. This kind of data confirms, for instance, that gardening is much preferred above something like a swimming pool,” says Baena.

“Each of our communities is little bit different. Our Westerly (West Van) has wine storage units, so residents can rent a space to house their wine collection,” adds Baena. “Depending on the demographics coming in, we design our properties based on research.”

With an increase in common areas, personalized options for residents and a higher-end variety of offerings, the amenities in and around the next generation of Retirement Communities far exceed expectations and contribute to happy, healthy, golden years.


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