Seniors: Aging in Place on Mercer Island

Senior Couple

“…just about every social issue can become a housing issue.” ~ Teresa Boardman

With the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation now at retirement age, one of largest the social issues slated to impact housing is the growing senior demographic. Over the next 25 years, this demographic in the U.S. will increase by 80%. Not all seniors are going to want to relocate to warmer climes, or move into retirement communities. “Aging in place,” where seniors decide to remain in their community, living independently, is becoming a popular lifestyle choice. Real estate professionals must be prepared to help senior clientele who want a home in their communities of choice– these professionals will need to be aware of how homes can be adapted to meet needs as their clients’ lifestyles changes.

In order to “age in place,” seniors may want to remodel their current homes to accommodate changing mobility needs. Or they may choose to buy a home or condo in their community which already possess the amenities that help seniors be successful while living independently: one level living spaces, wider hallways, waist high kitchen appliances and storage, bathrooms with safety features like non-skid surfaces and grip handles.

As important as having a home that accommodates their changing lifestyle, seniors who choose to age in place require a community which has the services in place that they need to be successful living independently. Prolific public transit options, excellent local medical services, access to convenient shopping— these are imperative to independent living. Commuting distance may also be significant to those seniors who choose to continue to work.

The city of Mercer Island has grown into a community that seniors are electing to age in place. Some of the seniors have been long-time island residents, however a growing number elect to move into the community specifically because of what it has to offer.

The proximity to both Seattle and Bellevue is attractive. For seniors who drive, they are minutes from either city. Both cities are also easily reached by public transit, with Express buses that travel back and forth from the Eastside to Seattle. Both metro areas offer cultural events, high-quality medical care facilities, shopping and a plethora of dining choices. Plus, Mercer Island itself maintains the feeling of small city living while offering urbane places to frequent. The Downtown Core is walkable and contains a variety of shops and restaurants for when you want to remain on the island instead of venturing into the city.

The city of Mercer Island features a comprehensive Parks and Recreation Department that offers a nice sized menu of Senior entertainment and services. The Senior Lunch Bunch is an ongoing event that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with lunch being served at Covenant Shores. There are ongoing exercise classes specifically designed for people aged 55+ over at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center, plus classes for those who are living with Parkinson’s Disease. Solemates meet on Wednesdays for Seattle area neighborhood walks that end in a stop at a local coffee shop— their walks are typically around 4 miles. Trailmates meet on Thursdays for hikes that are between 5 and 7 miles in length at various lovely PNW locations about an hour’s drive from Mercer Island. Park and Rec Senior services include: foot and dental clinics, reflexology sessions, Meals on Wheels program, AARP Tax Aide, Support Groups including grief support & Parkinson’s support, and caregiver respite for those caring for loved ones with memory loss and mobility issues. The city provides low-cost transportation to most Parks and Recreation sponsored events, including the Senior Lunch Bunch. Plus, on Wednesdays, the city sponsors a grocery shopping trip for island Seniors, which includes transportation to one island grocery store of your choosing plus one errand trip. Transportation must be reserved a day ahead of time and costs $1 one-way, or $2 round-trip. For all the times and dates for Parks and Recreation sponsored events and services, plus contact information for reserving your spot for events / transportation, look at their online recreation guide, starting on page 23 of the Fall 2012 / Winter 2013 Guide.

For those Seniors who would like to live in a retirement community that adapts to their lifestyle changes as they age, Mercer Island is home to two lovely communities.

Aljoya, located in the Downtown Core, really is right in the heart of Mercer Island. Walking trails, shopping, restaurants and coffee shops are within walking distance. Also, public transportation is conveniently located near the community. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Aljoya made the decision to approach the full spectrum of care they provide, from independent living to assisted living to nursing services, in a different way. Residents age in place, in the home they choose when they move into the community. This Youtube Video gives a nice tour of the facilities and highlights some of the community features nicely.

Covenant Shores, located on the island’s Northeast shore of Lake Washington, offers 4 different Senior Living options. The community, through their Life Connect Partnership, offers many creative pass times, lots of space to enjoy the outdoors, activities to maintain health & wellness, and continued learning opportunities. The panoramic views throughout the Covenant Shores community really are spectacular.

Windermere has established a company-wide program called Windermere Senior Transitions, to be of valued service to our clients who are aged 65 and older; Senior Transitions real estate professionals are committed to, and trained to understand, the unique goals, concerns, and needs of seniors. Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island is the home to several brokers who have earned the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation. They are Denise Coe, Ina Bahner, Jay Agoado, Julie Barrows, Peni Schwartz, Valarie Kaye and Van Anderson. These brokers possess both the skills and understanding to help answer your questions about senior living, aging in place and local senior communities.

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