Community Living at Its Finest

Today's retirement residences offer much more than a home.

Retirement living is subject to all sorts of stereotypes and myths. Today's retirement communities, however, are nothing like the staid, sterile environments of the past. With people living longer than ever, progressive communities that offer everything from fitness classes to stimulating excursions are helping residents age well, and live longer.

"There's often a perception that people are just sitting around with nothing to do," says Howard Johnson, CEO of Baptist Housing, a faith-based non-profit organization with senior living communities throughout B.C., including Shannon Oaks, South Vancouver's all-inclusive, premier independent living residence. "That couldn't be further from the truth."

Several elements help make a retirement community a home. Foremost is the residents' ability to personalize their suite. No one likes the idea of moving to a new place and having to abandon their favourite furniture and decor. At Shannon Oaks residents don't have to.

"It is important for all of us to surround ourselves with those personal items that give us a sense of comfort and belonging," says Johnson. "At Shannon Oaks, residents make it their own apartment by bringing with them their favourite chair, their familiar paintings and photos, even the family piano that brought the joy of music to many generations. People's possessions are their memories and history."

Shannon Oaks offers one-bedroom, one-bedroom + den and two-bedroom deluxe suites. The bathrooms are equipped with grab bars and sit-down showers. Also, many suites have patios and balconies that look out into the inner courtyard that is lined with two golf putting greens, water features and a gazebo. A favourite feature at Shannon Oaks is individual locked glass curio cabinets located just outside each suite's front door, which residents use to place treasured mementos.

"It says who they are and personalizes the entrance to their suite," says Gillian Fullerton, sales and marketing manager with Baptist Housing.

The hospitality services at Shannon Oaks include all meals served in an elegant dining room, weekly housekeeping and linen service, 24-hour emergency response, and a variety of recreational activities, as well as exciting movie nights, picnics and day-long trips.

Research has proven that social isolation results in poorer health outcomes for seniors. "You have the ability to make friends and enhance relationships when living at Shannon Oaks," Fullerton says, recalling two residents who met one day in the dining room. "These two ladies became the best of friends. They now go to plays together, to movies and go shopping. When you become a resident at Shannon Oaks it's like a flower blooming--it's a new lease on life."

What truly makes a place a home is the people. "When you move to a retirement community like Shannon Oaks, it's not life over," Fullerton adds. "It's life beginning." 

 

As seen in BCBusiness December 2015 issue.