Searching for a retirement community can be daunting when faced with a plethora of industry specific terms. One such term that shows up often when researching communities is “active senior living.”
Like life plan communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs), active senior living communities typically have age restrictions and provide both interior and exterior home maintenance services. Unlike many life plan communities, there is no “buy-in” fee and residents only pay a monthly rental fee for their home or duplex.
Many active senior living communities offer resident-led programs and connections with local community centers while some communities offer onsite amenities. The opportunity for resident-led programming that residents and the community create together is one aspect that makes active senior living special. Residents live in duplexes or houses, depending on the community, but without the added maintenance worries that living in a home typically entails.
Front Porch has three active senior living communities: Cecil Pines in Jacksonville, Florida; England Oaks in Alexandria, Louisiana; and El Sombroso Oaks in Los Gatos, California.
Located on 53 acres that once comprised a military base in Jacksonville, Florida, Cecil Pines boasts miles of walking paths among mature pines and an easy-going lifestyle. With convenient access to a local golf course as well as an aquatics center, fitness center, and equestrian center, this unique community offers numerous ways for residents to stay active.
“Our focus is on how we can support residents so they don’t have to worry about the mundane stuff,” explained General Manager Christina Purdy. “We want them to be able to pursue their passions and all of the activities they’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the time for previously.” Management takes care of home maintenance, garbage pick-up, and yard work.
One of the benefits of life at Cecil Pines is the community. “Everyone knows everyone else’s name and when you drive down the road, everyone waves at you,” noted Christina. “For many residents, they go back to the sense of community that they had when they were growing up.”
Because residents’ passions are a focal point at Cecil Pines, the staff makes an effort to customize programming to suit residents’ interests and to support resident-led activities.
Programs include an exercise group, game nights, a monthly potluck, Koffee Klatch, Wii bowling tournaments, and more, depending on resident interest. Additionally, many residents take advantage of community-supported volunteer opportunities. The monthly “Road Walk” group picks up litter along the road to the local commerce center and “Gifted Hands” meets every Wednesday to create handcrafted clothing, pillows, and blankets to donate to the local hospital. The community also hosts an annual baby shower, where they pack two SUVs full of donations so that new moms at the hospital have something to take home with them.
Christina said that the community “is always giving back.” Every Thanksgiving, residents collect donations for the Salvation Army and once a year host an antique car show fundraiser with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
“We have very active people at our community with residents in their late 50s all the way up to those in their 90s,” Christina said. The community offers plenty of space to walk or bike and numerous ways to stay active. If you are interested in learning more about Cecil Pines, please visit their website or contact (904) 771-8839.
England Oaks, located in Alexandria Louisiana, lives up to its name with plenty of oak (and pecan) trees throughout the community. Like Cecil Pines, England Oaks is located on a closed military base, remodeled into a senior housing and community center, and located near a local golf course.
Located on 63 acres, England Oaks has the leisurely feel of a small town with different streets containing 182 homes. Residents live independently but without the hassles of maintenance, garbage pickup, and pest control.
“It’s really hard going from living at home and being able to take care of everything to waking up one day and realizing that taking care of your home isn’t as fun as it used to be,” said England Oaks Sales Manager Nadja Stokes. “People begin to ask themselves, ‘What do I do from here?’” Active senior living communities like England Oaks provide a great solution. “People who embrace the choice of moving to an active senior living community are happier,” said Nadja. “They are less stressed and they find things to replace the work that are more fun.”
On top of the benefits of low-maintenance living, England Oaks also provides connection. “There is such a community feel,” Nadja said. “Residents at the community want to be part of something and England Oaks provides the opportunity to be social and active.”
Residents have access to an activity center that features a heated indoor pool as well as resident-led programs and groups, including a bridge group, poker group, and coffee chat. Additionally, many residents get together and play cards at home with each other and travel to local festivals together. “In Louisiana, there is a festival every weekend,” noted Nadja. The administrative team works with residents to coordinate buses so that they can attend the festivals together.
Residents also support each other through “Helping Hands” a group which provides transportation when the community’s van is unavailable. Residents drive other residents to medical appointments and to pick up groceries. “It’s also a great way to get to know their neighbors,” said Nadja, “and it helps to build the community feel.”
Nadja likens living at England Oaks to living in the fictional city of Mayfield from Leave It to Beaver. “It’s very quiet, secure, and everyone knows each other.” If you are interested in learning more about England Oaks, please visit their website or contact (318) 445-0520.
El Sombroso Oaks
Located a mile outside of downtown Los Gatos, El Sombroso Oaks (ESO) is a low-maintenance community in Northern California. Surrounded by walking paths that loop through oak trees, residents have easy access to the beauty and charm of Los Gatos.
The community was originally built in the 1970s with the intention of being an independent living residence for Presbyterian ministers. The community joined Covia, a Front Porch partner, in 2016 and the community now welcomes all, regardless of whether or not they have served as part of the Presbyterian clergy. “I have always felt welcome and now it is exciting to have people of a number of faiths and backgrounds as residents,” said resident Jack Longley, who has lived at ESO since 2009.
Jack arranges resident outings for the community, including going out to dinner, visits to the Hakone Gardens, the Apple Park (Apple’s headquarters), and other local attractions. “We always have a wonderful Christmas luncheon and we occasionally celebrate birthdays or anniversaries or get together in small groups for wine and discussion,” Jack said. During the pandemic, Jack started a weekly Zoom call for residents that transitioned to meeting outdoors when weather permits. “I put together some ice-breaker questions and we would take off and have a marvelous time,” he said.
“I love living here,” he noted. “We love to laugh together and we love to party when someone has a birthday.” Alex Gerasimov, property manager for ESO said, “I’m amazed how close knit and friendly everyone is at El Sombroso Oaks. Even though this community is fully independent, the residents regularly get together and go out for various events to stay active and engaged.”
The cottages at ESO have roomy kitchens, detached garages, decks, and plenty of natural light. With home maintenance as well as landscaping taken care of as part of the rental fee, residents can focus on getting out into nature or exploring the town. “El Sombroso Oaks serves as a pathway to Los Gatos,” Alex said. “The neighborhood connects a local elementary school to nearby households so you see a lot of kids, parents, and just friendly faces passing by and saying ‘Howdy!’ to our residents.” If you are interested in learning more about El Sombroso Oaks, please visit their website or contact AGerasimov@FrontPorch.net.
Active senior living communities are just one of the senior living options available at Front Porch. Check out our website to learn more about all that Front Porch has to offer and which of our options would be the best fit for your lifestyle.