“It's simple on one hand, because you're just putting in wider doorways, wider hallways,” said builder Jim McWhirter, whose Gemini Builders has constructed three retirement communities — Stonehaven Senior Living at 4701 SE 44, Wellington Parke at 3107 Tinker Diagonal and Tealridge Assisted Living at 2200 NE 140.
Built seven years ago, Wellington Parke was Gemini's first foray into retirement communities, and McWhirter said he built it for a simple reason.
“I couldn't find a place good enough for my mother,” he said.
It's not so simple on the other hand, though, since retirement communities also have to address the hurdles their residents face as they grow older, including possible illness and impairment — not to mention staving away boredom.
“It's not uncommon at all for us to have a good percentage of residents in their 90s in assisted living now that are healthy and running around,” McWhirter said.
Bryan Kim Turner, of Red Rock Builders, is building the homes at Touchmark, places ranging from 1,690 square feet to 2,360 square feet with maintenance and housekeeping services available. Incoming residents can tweak designs to their needs — the Waddells, for example, made sure there was room for their grand piano and extra bookshelves.
They and their neighbors can enjoy a meal at home or meet up at the community dining room, Mahaffey said, and a whole host of outings, activities and volunteer opportunities are there for the choosing.
“That's one of the nice things about the more active lifestyle communities,” she said. “They're going to find others within their networking of their own neighbors that they enjoy being around.”
And many take comfort in knowing that if they do need extra help the options are close at hand, she added. Touchmark also offers assisted living and memory care.
The Waddells packed up a home of more than 40 years and left Bethany to move into Touchmark. “We wanted to get out from homeownership and all that entails,” Vivian Waddell said.
But what they have found in the last three years can't be boiled down to dollars and cents.
“We had gotten to where we really didn't know our neighbors much where we were in Bethany,” she said. “But this is just a really friendly community, and pretty much everybody knows each other.”