Taking the Tour

By Judee Fong

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Touring the residences at The Dorchester.

British Columbia is one of the most sought-after Canadian provinces for retirees. At present, there are a variety of affordable and desirable retirement residences to suit the different levels of budget, independence and care for active retirees seeking a carefree home. Most people contemplating a move to an independent living retirement community are relatively healthy, active and enjoy travel.

Perhaps it’s time to seriously consider moving and downsizing to an active retirement community. If you’re away, your retirement home will be secure and safe. Meals that were once a chore to contemplate will now be a treat as meals are prepared by a qualified chef. Light housekeeping and fresh linen/towels are included in your monthly rent. With all this newly acquired freedom, retirement has never been better.

Where do people begin looking? Many check out retirement residences their friends or family members have recommended; a marketing ad that caught their attention; or simply by grabbing a copy of Senior Living magazine’s Senior Residence Directory, also online at www.seniorlivingmag.com/housingdirectory, to find what is available in their area. Wherever you decide to make your home, remember the most desirable, active seniors residences often have a wait-list of anywhere from 10 months to two years.

Tours are by appointment, so potential residents are given sufficient time to see what is offered. Before the tour, a short meeting is held to gain an idea of what potential residents are looking for as well as to answer any questions or concerns they may have.
Helen Brown, Community Relations Manager for Berwick Royal Oak, understands the concerns of people who make the decision to move to an active retirement community.

“I make very sure our guests asks questions and understand the answers because often family members automatically speak for their parent(s),” she says. “I like to encourage people to return for a complimentary meal because the dining room chatter with other residents can tell a person a lot about their new home.”
Potential residents should narrow their choices to three or four places to tour. Space the tours a few days apart as this allows for a reasonable comparison without being overwhelmed with information.

Security, amenities and emergency health care are all important issues to consider. Many active retirement residences offer a number of assisted living units for residents who require minimal assistance to continue enjoyment in their new home. Retirement communities are often located close to shopping, banking, restaurants and medical clinics, so residents retain ties to the surrounding community. Most offer one-bedrooms, some studios and two-bedrooms apartments, all with kitchenettes since full meals are prepared by a skilled chef. Some apartments have full-sized kitchens and, for a minimal fee, meals can still be eaten in the dining room.

The average space ranges between 550 to 750 square feet that includes living room, bathroom and closets. An exception is Berwick Royal Oak, with its two-bedroom suites having one or two bathrooms and/or with a den, ranging from 768-1,100 square feet.

Location is often a deciding factor as each active retirement residence has its own charm and attraction. Some examples include Victoria’s Berwick Royal Oak offering five-star retirement living surrounded by four-and-a-half acres of spectacular landscaped grounds. The many in-house services appeals to active residents who continue to enjoy the lifestyle with which they are accustomed. Twenty-seven assisted living units are available on the ground level, offering an impressive garden view with access to the grounds, plus all the available amenities.

Central Saanich’s Legion Manor, nestled in a country setting, still close to community conveniences, offers affordable, comfortable retirement living to anyone aged 55 plus. Legion Manor Director Dave Sinclair says, “The people living here consider this to be their home. It’s where you can meet new friends, enjoy freshly prepared meals and take part in all or some of the activities offered. We’ve even had people getting engaged here.” Resident George Richmond spontaneously commented, “It’s a great place!”

The Dorchester, located in North Kelowna, is just blocks away from picturesque Lake Okanagan. Since 2000, it has built a reputation for popular retirement living with the Revera lifestyle and desirable location. Health care is close by with a 24-hour emergency nurse call system and Kelowna General Hospital a mere five minutes away.

Burnaby’s Harmony Court Estates is another award-winning, retirement community for active seniors looking for a safe, secure and friendly home.

When should you move? Joel Grigg, Retirement Living Consultant for Harmony Court Estates says, “Be proactive. Don’t wait until something happens. A move to a desirable retirement community including Harmony Court, allows for complete independence to enjoy social interaction and support programs.”

When making the final decision, does this retirement residence appeal to your heartstrings and immediately make you feel at home? If yes, congratulations on your new home.

Questions to ask yourself:
* Did you feel “welcomed” as you stepped through the door?
* Does it feel like “Home” to you?
* Did you get smiles and/or greetings from staff and other residents as you were shown around?
* Do the staff call people by name and stop to say a few words?
* Do the staff and residents look happy and active?
* Does the apartment shown have a comfortable layout and one that flows easily for you?
* Can you bring your small pet?
* Is there a dining room as well as a smaller family room for private get-togethers?
* Can the meals be adjusted for special diets and/or allergies?
* Are there coffee, tea and snacks available throughout the day?
* Is there 24-hour security or security at night?
* Is there medical help onsite or close by for any emergencies?
* Is there light housekeeping, linen service and laundry facilities?
* Are there extra amenities offered like a fitness room, games room, library, garden, a theatre, beauty salon/barber shop?
* Are there guest rooms available for visitors?
* Would you be able to stay for two-days to sample meals, social activities and to get the general feel of living in a retirement residence?
* Is the cost per month comparable to the others you have seen? And is it reasonable for the services and amenities being offered?

For more information, contact:
Helen Brown, Community Relations Manager for Berwick Royal Oak, visit berwickroyaloak@berwickrc.com or call 250-386-4680.  
Dave Sinclair, Director for Legion Manor, email davesinclair@shaw.ca or call 250-652-3261.
Joel Grigg, Retirement Living Consultant for Harmony Court Estates, visit www.agecare.ca/Harmony email jgrigg@agecare.ca or call 604-527-3323.
Andrea Malinowski, Executive Director of The Dorchester, email andrea.malinowski@reveraliving.com or call 250-860-0725.




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