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Style Magazine

Home Sweet Home

Jun 30, 2009 05:00PM ● By Wendy Sipple

More than one in every four Californians is a baby boomer, born between 1946 and 1964. We are about to experience explosive growth in our retirement population as boomers reach retirement age in 2011. What kind of living arrangements can we expect for our aging parents and ourselves?

There has never been a time with as many options, luxuries and technologies as are available now.

According to Stephanie Watson, marketing director for Eskaton Granite Bay, “It is wise to familiarize yourself with the various levels of senior living and assistance available.” There is some overlap between what constitutes “assisted living” versus what is considered “independent living.” For the most part, assisted living facilities are for those needing assistance with some or many everyday tasks, but wish to live as independently as possible. These facilities are designed to assist residents who are still able to care for themselves on some level, which is how they differ from nursing homes where the residents usually have numerous health care treatment requirements. Serving as the middle ground between independent living and nursing home care, assisted living facilities have a common goal to foster autonomy in its residents, while making sure that their needs are being met. Assisted living facilities are also called personal care homes, residential care facilities, domiciliary care, sheltered housing, and community residences.

Assisted living facilities offer three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry services, and resident care associate supervision around the clock. Some residents may need assistance with many everyday tasks such as medication and bathing, while others may need the social aspects of what assisted living can offer. There are great resources for finding senior living options based on specific needs, such as, and the locally based New Beginning Senior Referral and Placement Assistance, which can be accessed for free at

Independent living provides the greatest versatility and freedom. Any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors (generally those age 55 and better) may be classified as an independent living community. Independent living allows seniors to live in their own home or apartment within a senior complex where services are available should they require them. These communities may also be classified as retirement communities, retirement homes, senior apartments and senior housing.

The new assisted living facilities and independent senior communities are surprisingly nice, resort-like and not what most people would expect. There are many options for seniors and these gated communities have amenities such as clubhouses, fitness centers, arts and crafts, swimming pools, planned activities and much more. Seniors usually thrive after moving to such communities, which offer recreation that contributes to active lifestyles.

Leading the way in innovative and functional home building, Eskaton Village (campus-like communities offering three or more services to senior residents) recently won the National Association of Home Builders’ 50+ Housing Council Gold Award for Best Detached Home in an active Adult Community. Some of the visionary features of the new homes include wider doors and hallways, zero threshold showers, multiple height work surfaces in the kitchen, sensor lights, and security systems operated by visual and audible cues. Smart lighting, solar power, tankless water heaters, high efficiency heating/air conditioning and Allergen-safe air filtration systems are some of the high-tech, “green” features of these forward-thinking homes.

When choosing a facility or senior community, either for yourself or a loved one, it’s good to make an appointment for your first visit, but follow up with an unannounced visit or two. Also, it’s important to speak with other residents to see how well their needs are being met.