College town of Oxford appeals to retiree

Today’s retirement communities offer a variety of amenities.

When Steve Wright was looking for a retirement community, the right choice had to check several boxes.

The facility had to have a good reputation. It had to be near his relatives in Cincinnati. And, after spending his entire career near Milwaukee teaching high school and coaching, he wanted to live in a college town or a city with Division 1 athletics.

He looked at communities in not only Ohio, but also Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. The 65-year-old found what he was looking for at the Knolls of Oxford, in part because of its close ties to Miami University.

“I continue to be validated that this was a good choice,” Wright said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Knolls of Oxford was one of the first retirement communities in the country to launch an affiliation with a nearby university when the partnership started nearly two decades ago, said Cheryl Hampton, director of marketing at the Knolls. Affiliations like these are just one of the trends in living options that today’s seniors have that retirees of previous generations often did not.

The affiliation gives residents access to sporting events and the performing arts, presentations at the Knolls by professors and other speakers, and visits by students, Hampton said. A popular technology program pairs a student volunteer with a resident to teach them more about using their devices.

The affiliation with Miami is mutually beneficial.

“It’s been a really good partnership, and of course our folks love it,” she said.

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Technology itself has been another growing trend. Independent living options have smart TVs and virtual assistants, and rehabilitation rooms, too, are equipped with virtual assistants as well as tablets and smart bulbs. The bulbs, she said, are safety features that allow residents to turn off lights without getting up.

In addition, a special app for residents is a way to access activity calendars, menus and announcements, and it allows families to keep in touch.

Today’s seniors also want more options, Hampton said, and that is reflected in what communities now offer. They often want larger spaces, amenities and to continue their same lifestyle, she said. They also want to age in place instead of moving in at the last minute as the result of a medical crisis.

Wright moved from a 1,350 square foot condo in Wisconsin, to a 2,000 square foot space at the Knolls, with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a sunroom and a single car garage.

Wright’s parents had lived in a retirement community in Mason, and he saw that they had greater medical needs as they aged. Wright, who is single, was concerned about who would care for him in the future. Knowing that the Knolls is a continuing care retirement community with multiple levels of care that residents can transition to has given him a sense of security.

“If I needed assisted living care or full-scale nursing care, that’s available to me,” he said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Grace Brethren Village in Englewood also is a continuing care retirement community that offers independent living as well as short- and long-term skilled nursing care. The community has changed over the years and will continue to do so based on the needs of the senior population it serves, said Mike McKinniss, its recently retired executive director.

Years ago, seniors with chronic health issues often were advised to seek long-term nursing care so that they had 24-hour assistance in managing their condition. Now, choosing an independent living community or remaining at home can be a good option thanks to telehealth, monitoring equipment, home health agencies and other resources.

“Seniors are just looking for other avenues,” McKinniss said.

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The Dayton area has seen a steady increase in the number of nursing centers and assisted living centers, and seniors and their family members now have a wide variety of options if they are looking for specific services, he said. Another trend is the additional research they do online before ever contacting or stepping foot onto the community.

Seniors nowadays consider the number of available amenities, such as daily activities, transportation, cable television and phone and internet services, he said. They also want their own rooms.

“Most facilities these days are switching to all private rooms because that’s what seniors are looking for,” he said.

Wright moved into the Knolls earlier this year and is the youngest resident in independent living, but his search started a decade ago. When he visited his parents and their friends at their community, he heard a common refrain: They wished they would have moved there when they were younger in order to take advantage of the amenities.

“I took that to heart,” he said.

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