Article Features Glenmeadow

Article Features Glenmeadow

February 10, 2014

14169855-mmmain (1) 2The Outlook 2014 section in the February 9th edition of the Republican featured an article on retirement living and highlighted Glenmeadow.

When Glenmeadow retirement community was formed in 1884, it had a different name, a different mission, a different location and different customers.

Back then it was called the Springfield Home for Aged Women. The people who lived there were mostly professional women who had eschewed the family life for careers and had no children. Some wealthy citizens of Springfield pitched in to build the facility on Chestnut and Carew streets as an alternative to the poor farm.

“Poor farms were not nice places,” says Timothy V. Cotz, the president of Glenmeadow today.

One-hundred-and-thirty-years later, the renamed Glenmeadow sits in a pretty section of this suburban Springfield community. Its campus includes 113 independent living units, many of them duplexes and triplexes, and a main building with 34 assisted living units.

The folks who live here are still elderly, but by no means desperate to stay out of the poor farm. The buy-in for an independent living unit starts at $130,000 (it’s 90 percent refundable if the residents move or die).

Although the most senior resident at Glenmeadow is 102, the average age is 83 to 84 years old, and those people take full advantage of the indoor pool, the exercise facility and the book groups, movies and other activities which Glenmeadow offers.

According to Cotz, Glenmeadow is one of about a dozen continuing-care operations in Massachusetts, those being facilities which offer more than one level of care. At any of these, seniors can socialize and, health permitting, do pretty much anything they please while relieving themselves of some of the burdens of life.

Currently, demand exceeds supply in area retirement communities.

One “new” couple at Glenmeadow waited six years for an apartment. Administrators at these communities attribute the boom to demographics and improvements in health care.

“It’s tied to the fact that the baby boomers are coming of age,” said Cotz. “The over-80 population is growing more than any other segment of the population.”

Deborah McCann, director of American Inn, a retirement community in Southwick, said many of the residents there want to enjoy their children and grandchildren as long as possible.

“The number one reason (for the boom) is that people are trying to live closer to their children,” McCann said. “Some people move to Florida, then come back to this area to be close to their families.”

McCann estimated that 90 percent of the residents at American Inn either come from the southern Pioneer Valley or have grown children who live here.

David Scruggs, the CEO of Loomis Communities, which has campuses in South Hadley, Holyoke, Amherst and Springfield, believes people move into retirement communities primarily out of practicality.

“The biggest reason people make the move is that they’re tired of taking care of their houses,” he said.

They also don’t want to be lonely. Because most communities offer a host of social activities, notably communal dining, it’s easy to make friends.

“People tend to blossom socially when they come here,” Scruggs said.

Peter and Tanya Snell, who recently moved to Glenmeadow, fit the profile in many ways.

The Snells raised their three children in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, but after they became empty-nesters they found their three-bedroom home in Pennsylvania was too much house for them. With one child in Suffield, Conn., another in New York and a third in eastern Massachusetts, Glenmeadow was centrally located for their family needs.

By the time they finished arranging the furniture in their independent living unit, the Snells were swamped with dinner invitations. Everyone was friendly, and the perks were good.

Tanya Snell, 80, uses the exercise room regularly and likes that she doesn’t have to go out into the cold if she doesn’t want to.

“You have a ready-made social life,” she said.

Peter Snell, who is 81, goes out for a walk on the well-appointed grounds almost daily. He hails from Rochester, N.Y., and scoffs at the suggestion that it’s cold out.

The Snells were on the waiting list for a unit for six years, but had trouble selling their home in Pennsylvania. They like that they had 14 different models from which to chose at Glenwood and that they found one which fit their price range.

Peter Snell didn’t go out to the movies much before his Glenmeadow days, but enjoys the social scene on movie night. He also likes it that Glenmeadow has guest suites where visitors can stay.

Most retirement communities have communal dining rooms where residents can have their choice of entrees. While independent living units have their own kitchens, those residents can usually pay to eat in the common dining rooms with friends. Other standard amenities are activities like bridge groups and transportation to shopping and, occasionally, entertainment centers like casinos.

Besides price differences, communities offer slightly different lifestyles that attract residents.

American Inn, for instance, is situated along Routes 10 and 202 in Southwick, and some people prefer cottages which back up to the woods, according to McCann.

The Loomis Communities have nursing facilities where people can remain when they are no longer suited for independent or assisted living.

“We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach,” Scruggs said. “We’re a continuing-care community and there’s a certain level of security to that. You know what they quality is up front and people can progress through various levels of care.”

Article written by Fred Contrada, The Republican

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