When making the important decision of where to live as you age, you need to take into account your overall health and well-being, as well as your finances. Many seniors think that staying in their homes is more affordable than joining an assisted living or senior living community, but fail to take into account the various costs that can accrue. While you may not be paying rent or a mortgage, living at home can require basic home maintenance, like a new water heater or yard care, or projects to keep the home accessible based on your abilities. These improvements can include installing a stair lift, wheel chair ramps, or remodeling a bath (to include a curbless shower and installing hand rails, for example). All these projects have a cost, and it’s important to research whether they will add to your home value or not.
There are also costs associated with independent living and retirement home communities. Here are a few things to consider when researching to see what’s included in your monthly rent or joining fee:
• Waiting list deposit
• Move-in fee
• Utilities (phone, internet, electricity)
• Field trips
• Wellness Programs
Also ask about assisted living services, how are they provided, and how are costs established. What are the maximum costs for such services? Assisted living services are available in private residences as well, but can be higher than those at a retirement community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are satisfied that you have the information you need.
Rising costs are also a consideration. At Willamette Oaks, we have a special program that eliminates the mystery and lets you plan long term. It’s called LifeMinded Rewards, and it’s a one-of-a-kind program that limits or eliminates any rent increase you’ll experience at Willamette Oaks, without gimmicks or an additional fee. Learn all the details about LifeMinded Rewards.
HOW CAN I AVOID LOSING MY INDEPENDENCE?
Independence is something we all hold dear. We desperately wanted our independence as teenagers and hold on to the concept even more dearly as we age. Maintaining indepdence is the number one reason people give for staying in their own home instead of moving to a senior apartment community. Yet there’s a problem with that logic. Staying in our homes tends have the opposite effect. Instead of giving us freedom, it tends to restrict us. Visiting friends and staying active can be difficult when living in one’s own home with limited access to transportation and activities. Maintaining and cleaning a house also requires time and money, which can limit many people’s choices.. Too often, staying in one’s home means isolation. People who move to an assisted living or independent senior living community have fewer logistical barriers and tend to become more active. They often have more social interaction and live fuller, more purposeful lives. Most residents at our LifeMinded communities will tell you they resisted moving from their own homes for as long as possible, but, after making the move, wished they had done it sooner.
CAN I AFFORD THIS?
For many seniors, living on a fixed income brings concerns of outliving retirement savings. There are many things you can do to ensure you are living within your means: hiring a financial adviser, developing a budget, and preparing for the possibility that you may become unable to handle your finances. A large portion of your nest egg will be spent on living expenses, so it’s important to consider daily, monthly and yearly housing-related costs. And while nobody can predict the future, at Willamette Oaks we limit any rent increases with our LifeMinded™ Rewards program. It’s a unique program that limits or eliminates rent increases. And it starts after you’ve lived here just three years. Get all the details here.
As we age, our worlds tend to get smaller. There are many reasons for this, but studies have found that it’s not good for our health. Staying social is associated with heart and immune system health, lowering depression risk, and overall longer life. Being isolated triggers feelings of loneliness that can put your body into a chronic stress response, and constant presence of stress hormones leads to poor health outcomes.
Shrinking social circles, poor health, life changes, and transportation issues can all inhibit your ability to have an active social life. That’s why living in a senior living or senior housing community that promotes health and activity, while making socializing easy and convenient, is critical to living a vibrant and engaged senior life.
Here are some suggestions for how to stay social:
• Meet up for coffee or tea with a friend. Make it a regular date so you don’t have to remember to schedule it.
• Take your pet (or just yourself) on a walk to somewhere where people congregate. Video chats or phone calls can be good substitutes when distance is a factor, but it’s worth the effort to get face-to-face in the same room whenever possible.
• Group activities can be beneficial because they have structure. You can meet new people and develop friendships by seeing people on a regular basis. Explore the options at your local religious organization, or non-profit to be a part of group studies, choirs, book clubs, or service projects. Even if you don’t like big groups, there are lots of activities that are ideal for 3, 4 or 5 people: take at walk together, play a board game, or maintain a communal garden. A little company goes a long way in keeping you healthy.
The best way to tell if a place is the right fit for you is to see it for yourself. It’s a big decision and we understand that. It’s why we invite you to meet some of our residents and staff face to face. Find out more here.
HOW DOES AGING IMPACT NUTRITION?
Nutritional needs change as we age, but eating well doesn’t become any less important. Sadly, poor nutrition and malnutrition can easily be mistaken as illness. Consuming healthy food and key nutrients are a valuable preventative medicine for all seniors and should be made a high priority.
Many issues can get in the way of this goal. Bodily changes, such as dental and gastrointestinal conditions, can affect what foods are satiating and appealing. Lack of interest in cooking and eating alone, financial concerns, and the ability to access the grocery store also play a role.
We also tend to use less energy as we age (although staying active can help offset this). Therefore, a senior’s caloric needs are lower. That is why it’s important to be efficient in getting key nutrients into our systems. Common nutrient deficiencies include inadequate intake of vitamin A, B, C, D, E, folic acid and niacin. Focusing on healthy whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high protein foods such as meat, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, will help pack the nutrition you need into your daily caloric intake. Partaking in low nutrient foods like solid fats and added sugars doesn’t leave enough room in your diet for the nutritious foods. A daily multi-vitamin can also help fill in any gaps you may have, but is no substitution for healthy, nutrient-dense foods.The best senior housing and retirement homes—like our LifeMinded communities— will have a full-time chef on site that can bring spice to your life and more nutritious foods to your table.
At Willamette Oaks we’re pretty proud of our cuisine, with all meals prepared under the watchful eye of Chef Elizabeth. But don’t take our word for it, learn about our flexible meal options below.
What are you doing to prevent coronavirus?
We are doing everything we can to stay virus free. Our residents and staff have all been vaccinated. We will continue to do periodic testing of residents, and all staff including their families. Going beyond the expected…it’s what our community expects. Learn more on our COVID-19 Information Page.
What is LifeMinded?
LifeMinded is an approach we’ve practiced since we opened in 1986. It is also what distinguishes us from other senior living communities in the area. LifeMinded promotes the benefits of “engaged living,” using special, proven techniques and practices designed for seniors based on the “Seven Dimensions of Wellness” model created by the International Council on Active Aging®. Our LifeMinded approach helps every Willamette Oaks resident create their own personalized program for living a full, satisfying and active life—often a more active life—regardless of their age. Retirement living as it was meant to be lived, full of life. Read more about LifeMinded here.
Do you offer assistance with daily living?
Our residents have access to personal care services in the comfort of their apartments. Even though we are an independent senior living community, there is no need to leave Willamette Oaks if you need assistance with grooming, laundry, medication reminders or other personal matters. Access to assisted living services can be provided on your terms by our partners or anyone of your choosing. Read more about our partners and the services they provide here.
What services and amenities do you offer?
Our services and amenities include:
• Lunch and/or dinner is served daily through our flexible meal plan.
• At this time, all transportation has been suspended but normally we provide scheduled transportation for shopping, medical and dental appointments, banking, church, etc.
• Access to a wide variety of classes, trips, cultural events and fitness opportunities.
• 24-hour staffing and a security and emergency response system.
• Concierge who can provide information on a wide variety of services including assistance with personal care, shopping services, and other support for you and your family.
• Weekly housekeeping.
• Utilities, including cable, included in your rent. Read more about our services and amenities here.
Do you allow pets?
Yes, small pets are welcome with payment of a one-time fee. Residents provide for their own pet needs in designated areas of our grounds. (If you need dog-walking, we’ll be glad to connect you with that service.)
Do you provide transportation?
Currently, we are not providing transportation services due to coronavirus restrictions. Our friendly concierge can help make arrangements for any deliveries or services you may need adapted during this time.
Traditionally, transportation services are available regularly to many local shopping, banking, mailing, church and entertainment venues. In addition, transportation is available for personal medical and dental appointments. Your concierge will gladly help you with scheduling.
Will I have to sign a lease?
No—our residents do not sign leases. We rent our apartments on a month-to-month basis. Typically, we require 30-day notice if you choose to leave. A $1000 non-refundable community fee will secure an apartment of your choice for up to 30 days.
Do you have accommodations for my overnight guests?
Currently, only existing residents and staff are allowed on site. Typically, we maintain two guest apartments for friends and family. There is a reasonable charge for these accommodations. We look forward to making these available again when it is safe to do so.
May I make changes to my apartment?
Yes. You will be asked to work with our manager if you are interested in painting your apartment or otherwise personalizing it. Let’s talk about your ideas.
How does your flexible meal plan work?
Chef Elizabeth and her staff prepare lunch and dinner daily. Your monthly service fee includes the equivalent of one meal per day, per month. You can use your meals however you like, whenever you like, in any combination. If you miss meals, you’re free to “make them up” at any time during the same month. Our dining plan lets you tailor your dining service to fit your life.
Am I free to sit where I want to in the dining room?
Currently, meals are only provided via complimentary room service. We look forward to getting everyone back together in our dining room when it is safe to do so.
Traditionally, we don’t have “assigned seating.” When you arrive for dinner, our maître d' will greet and seat you. You can also make a reservation for a specific time if you like. Room service and take-out service are always available as well.
Do you have assigned parking?
We do not have assigned parking. Our parking is free and plentiful. We also offer valet parking to you and your guests at no charge.
Do you offer internet access?
Willamette Oaks is proud to partner with Dual Path. Wireless internet access is provided throughout the common areas of Willamette Oaks. In addition, Dual Path can provide your own private secure high speed internet access in your apartment along with great technical support. The cost is $30.00 per month. We are happy to provide you with more information on this great partner.
Is it easy to get to know other residents?
Yes. We think you’ll be delighted by how easy it is. Each time you visit virtually, we’ll introduce you to many of the people who live and work here. We hope that by the time you join us, you will already know several people by name. When you move in, our relocation coordinator will be available to answer all the questions you or your family may have. We also have a group of residents who serve as “ambassadors” and welcome new residents. In no time at all, you’ll feel like one of the family.
Who owns Willamette Oaks?
Willamette Oaks is family-owned. It has been operated by Cascade Group since its opening in 1986. Claudia Norton has served as our manager since 2001.
How often do you have rent increases?
For residents not yet eligible for LifeMinded rewards, we increase rent on the anniversary of your move-in date. In recent years, increases have ranged from 1-4 percent. Of course the sooner you move in, the sooner you’ll benefit from the savings offered by our LifeMinded Rewards. Residents who have lived at Willamette Oaks for more than 3 years qualify for LifeMinded Rewards which offers one-of-a-kind peace of mind by limiting or eliminating rent increases while you live with us. Learn More.
Are the people pictured on your website really residents and staff?
Absolutely. Using paid models or stock photography just isn’t our style. Everyone pictured on this site is a member of the Willamette Oaks community or a member of one of our two other LifeMinded communities in Issaquah and Bellingham, Washington. The people who live and work here love to rave about Willamette Oaks—just ask them.