WRITER | JULIE FORD
If the thought of aging and needing care down the road makes you cringe, you are not alone. With nearly 20% of Michiganders at age 65 and older, that’s almost two million people in the same boat. On the bright side, Michigan offers a few unique communities to make the later years enjoyable for living independently or with assistance.
First, let’s look at a basic progression of retirement housing options.
Aging in Place
Modify the current home or downsize to accommodate future declining mobility and agility and have a long-term care policy covering services from assisted living to hospice at home.
While aging in place may be preferred, what might mobility in the later years look like? Is driving in town a breeze or a challenge? Can you safely drive or walk to the grocery store, pharmacy, post office, or other activities? Do you have access to nature? Do you have a strong sense of community, or will feeling isolated become a possibility?
55+ Housing and Independent Living Communities
Age in place within a community that offers planned social activities, fitness centers, transportation, and other basic amenities. There’s no progression to onsite assisted living, but figuring out solutions to mobility and other aging issues with a large community of friends could be easier than on your own.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
These are a blend of independent living with assisted living and skilled nursing services. They allow for a seamless transition from independent living to assisted living within the same, familiar surroundings. When more care than assisted living is required, a nursing home is the next step.
Michigan has many 55+, independent living, and continuing care retirement communities. Beyond the basics and the golf-inspired retirement communities in trendy areas around the state, Michigan offers three new luxury retirement communities with resort-like amenities.
“The 55+ group are seeking an opportunity to live an independent lifestyle with resources included in a monthly fee, so they don’t have to worry about finances – housing, food, entertainment, health and wellness – all one monthly fee so they can relax and enjoy life,” says Kelly Jo Hinrichs, vice president of marketing for Resort Lifestyle Communities based in Lincoln, NE.
“In our communities, there are no surprises of homeownership, like needing a new roof, and we don’t have any buy-in fee. Our residents also want the ability to have companionship and camaraderie,” Hinrichs says.
Resort Lifestyle Communities is building two all-inclusive luxury retirement communities loaded with amenities to help residents feel independent, empowered, and avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. Opening in early 2022 is Rolling Hills, located at Crumb and Haggerty in Commerce Township. Willow Pines off of Six Mile Road in Northville is expected to open in 2023.
“We find that residents are happy because they’ve gone from living alone and solved that with our numerous common areas such as libraries, billiards, computer centers, 150-seat theatres, resident gardening, multiple dining options, and more,” Hinrichs says.
In Traverse City, Cordia at Grand Traverse Commons offers both independent living and assisted living in the unique setting of the former Traverse City State Hospital, built in 1885. Amenities include a library, pub, piano lounge, fitness center, 60-seat theatre, game areas, gardening areas, and grand covered porches in the Italianate architectural style. It’s also situated in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, with shopping, dining, farmers markets, and events.
Cohousing is a concept that began in Denmark in the late 1960s. Its basic premise is living individually in a home or apartment with a community area for shared resources such as kitchen and dining, home office, creating art, laundry, guest rooms, and more. Private dwellings have kitchens, but the point to cohousing is building a multigenerational community and having a network of trusted support. This is independent living with instant friends and neighbors who assist each other, but it does not offer assisted living.
Michigan has five cohousing communities:
Genesee Gardens, Lansing
Great Oak, Ann Arbor
Newberry Place, Grand Rapids
Sunward, Ann Arbor
Touchstone, Ann Arbor
University-based retirement communities are found throughout the U.S. and are an option for people who want a multigenerational retirement that’s intellectually stimulating and diverse.
Michigan has one: University Commons near the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor. There are 92 independently owned villas, townhomes, and apartments with a lengthy list of amenities, including a recital hall for concerts and lectures, a commercial kitchen, dining and woodworking rooms, a fitness area, and more. This is active independent living with a shared interest – higher education.
Where to live in retirement requires planning and thought, and new communities with interesting and unique amenities are underway in Michigan. While one’s financial situation, health, and level of family help will determine the location, there are many options to consider. The retirement years can be filled with adventures with new best friends who live just steps away.