May 05, 2016 01:35PM
By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
Retirement communities stereotypically bring to mind senior citizens playing shuffleboard and bingo, perhaps eating some form of dry meatloaf and mushy potatoes in the cafeteria.
That may have been your grandparents’ retirement community, but it certainly won’t be yours, or your parents’. Independent living communities today offer trendy gluten-free items on the menu, yoga and tai chi in the gym, and even the chance to take in Broadway shows downtown. They are located in trendy midtown as well as quieter west Omaha.
Independent living is any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors, from apartments to freestanding homes. The housing is generally more compact and offers easier navigation and no maintenance or yard work. People can live their own lives, but they reside in a community with activities and services geared towards seniors.
George Bakhit, executive director of Fountain View Senior Living, said that these popular amenities are making family members look at senior living, including independent living, in a different light.
“I’m seeing children who are looking at senior living for their folks, and they are intrigued,” Bakhit says.
Bakhit says part of the key to being a great retirement living facility is the quality of activities. Fountain View does provides bingo, and many people play bridge, but residents also go to the movies, baseball games, and the theater. The establishment provides live entertainment by popular local entertainers like Johnny Ray Gomez.
Key for Fountain View is maintaining a feeling that residents are at home and have the amenities they need. They have easy access to shopping areas, banks, and the Interstate. The Fountain View community also offers assisted living and care for those with Alzheimers or dementia. The ability to provide a variety of services is something Bakhit stressed people need to look for when choosing a facility.
“When looking for a senior living community, one might be conscious to look for a continual care community to make the transition from an independent living to assisted living smoother,” Bakhit says.
At Maple Ridge Retirement Community, residents don’t have to wait for a specified mealtime to eat. The community offers a Freedom Dining Program, based on the cruise-line model of dining.
They don’t serve mystery meat, either. One dish the executive chef serves is chicken-fried steak atop a crispy fried potato cake, over a chive oil drizzled corn soubise. The meal is finished with fried baby spinach and brunoise red peppers.
That’s just one meal that was recently served in their fine dining option. Maple Ridge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner…and they extend their lunch for another hour by leaving the soup and salad bar open. Hungry between 3 and 4 p.m.? They offer snacks and sandwiches.
“The Freedom Dining, the ability to come and go more to fit with their lifestyles, is something that is totally unique to us,” says DeniseTownsend, a manager at Maple Ridge.
While they don’t cater to special diets, such as low-sodium, in the independent living area, they do offer some trendy options, like gluten-free or vegetarian.
Indulging in trendy PieFive Pizza Co. before catching a movie at Aksarben Cinema might be something for hipsters, but residents at Aksarben Village Retirement Living Community just walk right across the street for a slice. They can also grab some morning coffee at Starbucks.
It’s all part of modern independent living.