by Corita Gravitt
Bob Kourey's retirement
is right on track. The house is paid for, the yard work manageable,
and Bob has plenty of time to devote to his hobby. It's the retirement
he and his wife Joann dreamed of when they moved to this quiet Sacramento
neighborhood 37 years ago. And Bob says the only way he'll leave his
nest...is on a gurney!
As the Valley's
senior population grows, their needs become more diverse. Only a third
will share the Kourey's dream: to "age in place" and stay
in the house they've lived in for years. Another third will downsize
to a condo or apartment, while the rest move to single family homes
with smaller yards -- like those in so-called "active adult"
communities, catering to people 55 and above.
Judy Bennett heads
the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, and says today's retirement communities
are different than those thirty, even twenty years ago. As Californian's
live longer and healthier lives, there's a growing demand for communities
that cater to an active lifestyle.
But what happens
when you get older? You slow down? Your spouse passes away? For many
seniors, it means downsizing to a condo or apartment.
Hank Fisher anticipated
the Valley's need for senior housing thirty years ago and began building.
Among his projects: the Chateau at River's Edge in Sacramento. It's
an elegant complex where a one-bedroom apartment with meals, activities,
and local transportation starts around $2300 a month for one, $2800
per couple. The average age here? 86!
Betty Shanahan met
widower Bob Shaw at the Chateau, and before you could say, "I do,"
Betty and Bob feel
secure knowing that should one or both of them require more care, they
can transition from "independent living" to the Chateau's
"assisted living" wing.
Such options abound
for seniors in metropolitan areas, but smaller Valley towns are also
striving to meet the unique housing demands of their graying populations.
A place like Samaritan
Village fits the bill: a non-profit community of cottages and apartments
in Hughson, near Modesto,. Funded by a 30 million dollar donation by
a philanthropic Valley couple, it's entirely self-contained, with a
post office, beauty shop, library, dining room, and chapel. But Samaritan
Village will take senior living one step further when it opens a new
As a group, California
seniors ages 65 and above have faired well economically. Still, more
than half of retired Californians rely heavily on Social Security for
much of their income. Most of them can't afford to buy into an "active
adult" community -- or even rent an apartment in a higher-end senior
Youssefi is trying to change that. With help from the Sacramento Housing
Redevelopment Agency, he turned the derelict Dodge City Inn into Ladi
Senior Apartments, a complex for low-income seniors.
A typical one bedroom
can set you back close to 800 dollars a month in Sacramento. A one bedroom
here averages $440. The complex includes landscaped grounds, community
and exercise rooms, and security. Since it's rent-controlled, the price
will remain relatively low.
Age has a way of
sneaking up on us, but it's comforting to know that growing older in
the Valley means a growing number of housing options -- for richer or
poorer, in sickness and in health