Norman Nash celebrated his 90th birthday last October at the Goodwin House in Alexandria, a retirement community. There, the couple hosted their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who had come from Arlington, Chantilly, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Stafford and Houston for the occasion.
After retiring from the Navy, Norman taught math at George Washington School in Alexandria for 17 years. He and Muff purchased an Alexandria home, on Argyle Drive, in 1969.
In planning for retirement, he recalls, We knew that we wanted to remain near Washington in order to be close to our sons and their families. We also wanted to remain near our church, Trinity United Methodist, and our friends in Alexandria.
They also had friends at Goodwin House, where the minimum age to be a resident is 65. He said, We were welcomed and made at home immediately.
After applying in 2001, they spent five years on the waiting list for a two-bedroom unit. It is one of the most popular floor plans among 15 offered in the high-rise building ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments.
Now, he reports, it was well worth the wait: We are delighted with Goodwin House.
This experience gives the Nashes a lot in common with other seniors community residents. Most choose a location close to family and friends, according to a joint study by the National Association of Home Builders and The MetLife Mature Market Institute.
Most consumers of this age group were happy with their current homes, but residents of age-restricted communities had the highest satisfaction rates, the study states.
These satisfied seniors are apparently spreading the word around. By 2007, three percent of those age 55 and older said they lived in age-restricted residences, compared to 2.2 percent in 2001.
In the Alexandria area, they can choose from among five rental communities: Goodwin House and the Hermitage, plus three Sunrise Senior Living locations. All are hosting family brunches to celebrate Fathers Day.
Most offer continuing care as needs may increase, going from independent living to assisted living and continuing to Alzheimers care and health centers (more commonly called nursing homes).
Rentals tend to start in the range of $2,000 per month for independent and assisted living, and $200 daily for higher levels of care.
With an arrangement including one served meal per day, weekly housekeeping and transportation, the Nashes are typical of the independent living group, although residential living is the term used here. Its amenities also includes a wide range of planned activities.
We attend and enjoy concerts by visiting musicians, lectures by visiting experts, a computer club, bridge games and movies, he says. He also takes part in the arthritis exercise classes in the swimming pool. The program also includes painting classes, computer training and book reviews.
Assisted living includes three meals a day plus daily housekeeping. It is divided into three levels of service, including aid ranging from medication assistance to bathing incontinence care. Activities include exercise, gardening and discussion groups.
In the health center, tenants can take part in gardening, bowling and trivia contests.
A separate area is the Hope Garden, catering to Alzheimers and dementia patients with exercise, music and other activities.
Open for more than 35 years, Goodwin House is affiliated with the Episcopal Church but seeks residents of all backgrounds. We still attend services at Trinity Church, Nash reports, but there is a fine chaplain who conducts all types of services here.
Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc., operates the Hermitage in Alexandria, which is more than 41 years old. With a minimum age of 62, it also offers continuing care, from independent living to three levels of assisted living to the health center. The health care category is the largest at 68 units, followed by independent living with 65 and assisted living with 50, in separate parts of the building.
The assisted living section is located on the second and third stories, explains Bob Orr, the sales and marketing director. The independent living floors are the first through sixth. All categories include three meals per day, housecleaning and transportation.
Activities are also provided for all residents, including table games, book reviewers, volunteer entertainers, scenic rides, museum outings and exercise.
Sunrise Assisted Living
Founded by Paul and Terri Klaassen in 1981, the non-denominational Sunrise Senior Living system is the nations largest. It houses 52,000 residents in 400 communities across the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. They include Sunrise Assisted Living Alexandria and Mount Vernon, as well as the Fountains at Washington House in Alexandria.
The Alexandria and Mount Vernon locations are distinguished by the Victorian structures reminiscent of the Grand Floridian luxury resort hotel at Walt Disney World.
While some Sunrise facilities include independent living sections, Alexandria and
Mount Vernon communities begin with assisted living and continue through memory loss and hospice care.
The assisted living services include three meals per day and weekly housekeeping plus transportation to doctors offices. Activities include computer and craft classes, exercise sessions and outside entertainers.
For tenants with memory impairments, three separate facilities are provided. The Terrace Club is for those in early stages, the Reminiscence Neighborhood houses the more advanced and Ednas Place cares for those needing an even higher level of service. The goals include stimulating memory and encouraging activities.
Acquired from the original owner, The Fountains begins with an independent living section and continue through the higher levels of care.
The Sunrise centers have no official age restrictions, according to Sanford Rodgers, the area sales manager. The residents tend to be between 60 and 70 in independent living and over 70 when they enter the assisted group. Nationwide, the average assisted living resident is 83 years old.
With so many people nowadays living beyond that age, seniors residences are likely to attract even more tenants in the days to come.
Goodwin House is located at 4800 Fillmore Ave.
Sunrise Assisted Living is located at 3520 Duke St. in Alexandria and 8033 Holland Rd. in Mount Vernon. The Fountains at Washington House is at 5100 Fillmore Ave. in Alexandria. Call 410-205-0135
The Hermitage is located at 5000 Fairbanks Ave.