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University House, An Introduction To A Senior Resource

by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 23 February 2015

 

University House, built in 1996, and located on Stone Way - between Wallingford & Fremont.  Photo provided by the Alzheimer's Association

University House, built in 1996, and located on Stone Way – between Wallingford & Fremont. Photo provided by the Alzheimer’s Association

The character of Fremont is young.  We are an open-minded, creative and vibrant community that often instills in residents and visitors a sense of youthful vitality.  Yet, people here – like everywhere – are aging.

Fortunately, for those looking for senior housing where they can live independently yet with access to assistance, care and resources, Fremont has University House Wallingford.

Located on our northeastern border, at 4400 Stone Way N, University House provides its residents with a safe place for sharing, supporting and growing – while they enjoy freedom from the burden of home ownership and the joy of well-spent leisure.

A Place of ‘Intellectual Stimulation’

Since 1989, the University of Washington Retirement Association (UWRA) had sought a partner to attain an important goal.  “They wanted a retirement community for their community,” Ike Almo explained.  Era Living built University House in 1996 in partnership with the UWRA, working with them on every detail, through a UWRA committee and ‘town hall’ meetings with its membership.

University House provides residents with plenty of places to relax, or gather, beyond their own apartments.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '15

University House provides residents with plenty of places to relax, or gather, beyond their own apartments. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’15

Having a distinct academic flavor, University House provides a place for former educators, particularly those who taught and worked in higher education, to live with like-minded people.  The staff, and residents, at University House take a ‘life-long learning approach’ to retirement living, providing plenty of access to culture, museums, the symphony, theater, and a variety of educational presentations.

“A person has an opportunity to contribute something,” Almo, the Community Relations Director for University House, explained, “we provide a lot of intellectual stimulation.”

A Place Of ‘Fostering Independence’

Opportunities to get out, or stay in, and experience the world abound at University House.  The monthly calendar of activities is chock-a-block full of field trips and visiting presenters.  The Ladies Musical Club gives public concerts there, they host a regular Art Gala (next one February 26th,) and educators, experts and dignitaries speak on a wide variety of topics in the comfortable and spacious auditorium.

Staffers set up for another presentation, this one a music lecture by Dr. Deacon, in the University House auditorium.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '15

Staffers set up for another presentation, this one a music lecture by Dr. Deacon, in the University House auditorium. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’15

Yet, University House also provides a safe place for Fremont’s elders to age gracefully and with dignity.  With 146 maintenance-free apartments, they provide a place where people live without the fuss of home maintenance and without constant concern over how to get to the grocery store, doctor appointments and even the gym.

Rather than bringing in, and paying for, caregivers at home – or depending upon regular visits from relatives – residents at University House live independently, in full knowledge of the nursing care that is available if they need, as they need it, in the privacy of their own apartment.

“You become more independent when you live in a retirement community,” Almo explained, “We foster independence here at University House.”  Apartments have small kitchens, full bathrooms, cable television & internet, and individual heat controls, plus most have private balconies and some have multiple bedrooms/den (22 different floor plans are available.)  Residents can eat on their own in their apartments or sign-up for a meal program and enjoy chef-prepared meals in the dining room with their neighbors.

One of the many library extensions scattered around University House.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '15

One of the many library extensions scattered around University House. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’15

A Place Of Intention & Education

“Planning is a very important part,” Almo said about how we envision our retirement, and aging, options, “This is for the long-term.  You want to make sure you make the right choice for you.”

“The first thing to consider,” Almo observed about looking at senior housing, “is location.”  For Fremonsters, University House is ideal.  It has the all the familiarity, weather and proximity to family and friends that elders here already enjoy.  “The second thing is ‘what gives me pleasure,’ and ‘what is important to me,’” he advised.

In addition to a self-appointed apartment, University House residents enjoy use of the auditorium for live performances, presentations, and movies/television.  The building has permanent and rotating art displays throughout.  There is a library, and librarian, along with library extensions – smaller areas filled with books and comfy chairs – on each floor.

The University House Wellness Clinic provides residents with access to a licensed nurse and 24-hour care.  Residents also benefit from partnerships with the UW School of Pharmacy, School of Social Work, School of Public Health and the Information School.  University House has a consulting pharmacist, a large fitness center, access to a personal trainer and massage therapy.  With a 24-hour reception desk and resident parking available on-site, people that live at University House can be as independent as they were in their own homes, while gaining the safety of having a caring community available, with “everything at the tip of your fingers,” Almo observed.

One of the private apartments, decorated by the resident, at University House.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '15

One of the private apartments, decorated by the resident, at University House. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’15

“Come take a look,” Almo encouraged about finding retirement living.  He strongly recommends looking early, “while not in crisis mode.”  University House, of course, operates with a wait list for all interested residents.  “It’s a good call to come in for a visit,” he recommended, “to get a feel for the community, not just from a brochure.”

A Place Of Options

“The comment we always hear is, ‘I should have done this sooner,’” Almo observed.  Almo, or University House Community Relations Associate Amy Jackson, can meet with anyone interested in learning more about this local asset.

Living at University House can offer, and restore, a vibrant and involved way of life to seniors in our community – and Era Living has seven other facilities around the region that might even fit better.

Ike Almo, at University House, standing in front of paintings from the Fall 2014 Art Gala display.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '15

Ike Almo, at University House, standing in front of paintings from the Fall 2014 Art Gala display. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’15

“We like to be a resource,” Almo said, “and to help in the planning process.”  Even if University House Wallingford isn’t the right place for you, “you are not on your own,” Almo offered, “you are not the first one to think about moving into a retirement community.”  Almo and Jackson can make suggestions and give referrals.

“Everyone ages differently,” Almo observed, but the increased opportunities for socialization and stimulation, “makes a person feel younger.  This is really a chance to start anew.”

 

 


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©2015 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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