Clare Stege
Clare Stege, an independent villa resident at The Brennity at Tradition, enjoys the facility’s Spring Art Fair, one of many activities offered. THE BRENNITY AT TRADITION

Wide-ranging options are here for seniors who desire independent communities or assisted living facilities

BY ELLEN GILLETTE

When considering a nursing home or assisted care, there may be no better place to live the golden years than Port St. Lucie. The elderly and their loved ones have a variety of choices when it comes time to make the move to a senior facility, whether living here now or interested in relocating to this pleasant environment.

Seniors who no longer want home maintenance responsibilities may move to independent living communities, planning to transition to an adjacent ALF (assisted living facility) when necessary. Others already need more help. Secure memory care is designed for dementia patients; skilled nursing facilities offer 24-hour medical care.

If possible, discuss options ahead of need and gather information. An entire industry has arisen to help find a good “fit” for seniors. Family members involved in decision-making are encouraged to focus on the tastes and current needs of their loved ones. A pro-active approach provides opportunities to ask questions, “read the fine print,” and weigh factors such as pricing and proximity.

You can start online. Even if you plan to engage the free services of companies like Oasis Senior Living or A Place for Mom, start online for phone numbers and background information. Get feedback from an elder care attorney, and from friends and family who have already gone down this road. Financial help may be available for veterans and others.

Googling “senior living near me” will bring many results, but sites such as the Department of Elder Affairs (http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/) can help narrow things down. Floridahealthfinder.gov enables a search by county and provides data on complaints, number of beds and more.

COMMUNITY LIVING
Some seniors lean toward quieter ALFs in converted homes with only a few residents. Others seek larger communities offering more amenities. Port St. Lucie’s top six senior communities have much in common, making personal tours essential. Chatting with residents and staff, taking part in activities, arranging meals in the dining room and observing a community’s typical day is beneficial. When calculating cost comparisons, remember that meals and most utilities are included, and there are no home maintenance costs.

In alphabetical order, an overview of local communities follows. Find additional information at their respective websites:

Atria Port St. Lucie, 9825 S. U.S. 1, 772-236-6243

With 120 beds, Atria Port St. Lucie offers independent and assisted living, and memory care. It’s tailored to meet the needs of active seniors who want more time for what they enjoy. As a resident shares in one of its online video testimonials, “I’m kind of a ‘people person.’ They have a lot going on here at Atria, and I get into as much as I possibly can.”

Amenities include Wi-Fi, TV, housekeeping, landline phones, computers, a private dining room for special occasions, garden space, ethnic and kosher meals, media room, movie theater and worship space. Physical therapy is available. Some apartments come furnished; the facility is pet-friendly. Rooms are individually thermostat controlled and feature a call system. Town car and shuttle service is available, as well as an on-site salon and barber shop. Apartments include kitchenettes, but the award-winning chef and staff offer delicious meals with restaurant-style dining. Atria’s Life Guidance memory care program provides a secure, structured environment with specially trained staff.

The Brennity at Tradition, 10685 SW Stony Creek Way, 772-345-2700

Surrounded by a nature preserve, The Brennity at Tradition has 97 beds in areas that include cottages and apartments for independent living, an ALF and memory care. Each month residents sponsor a different charity to support. Activities are varied for all interests, including an annual Senior Olympics. Executive Director Melisa Knapp says that The Brennity is “committed to providing a vibrant quality of life.”

The independent living section features a heated indoor salt water pool and aquatics program. A spa, salon, barber, and fitness center are on the premises. ALF residents appreciate the security of 24-hour support while enjoying as much independence and privacy as possible. The Brennity’s extended care certification allows the facility to provide additional nursing services when needed. Featured in the secure memory care unit are personalized life skills stations designed to elevate the comfort level and mental stimulation of its residents.

The Gardens of Port St. Lucie, 1699 SE Lyngate Drive, 772-335-9990

Just minutes from St. Lucie Regional Medical Center, The Gardens of Port St. Lucie, a Five Star Senior Living community, has 110 beds. Families who need to travel, or would-be residents who want to “test drive” The Gardens can arrange temporary stays of a few weeks or months. “We’re not fancy,” says marketing director Anne Branen, “but we focus on really good care.”

Billiards, happy hours, in-house doctor visits, physical therapy and worship services are a few of its amenities. With a 30-bed skilled nursing unit, residents have the confidence that as medical needs increase, they’ll never have to move again. The philosophy at The Gardens of Port St. Lucie and other sister Five Star facilities is not just to live, but to thrive; their Lifestyle 360 program takes a holistic approach, addressing residents’ intellectual, social, physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Harbor Place at Port St. Lucie, 3700 SE Jennings Road, 772-337-4330

“Harbor Place is nestled off the road and surrounded with lush landscaping and water features that give residents security and privacy while being only seconds from U.S. 1,” says sales director Shannon Boklan-Parlin. What sets the facility apart, she says, is sharing a campus with LifeCare Center of Port St. Lucie, a skilled nursing and rehab facility.

With a resort-like atmosphere, Harbor Place of Port St. Lucie has 128 beds in the independent and assisted living areas. Amenities include a heated pool and hot tub, shuffleboard court, beauty salon and barber shop, and gift shop. Tailored care plans, wellness checks, reminder services and 24-hour emergency response provide peace of mind.

The Palms of St. Lucie West, 501 NW Cashmere Boulevard, 772-344-7441

A Five Star senior living community, The Palms of St. Lucie West is beautifully landscaped with restaurant-style dining. “We want to create as much of a homelike environment as possible,” says Jennifer Smith, sales director. “We’re a smaller, family-style facility.” In addition to 32 independent living villas, The Palms of St. Lucie West includes a 47-bed ALF. Their award-winning Bridge to Rediscovery is a Montessori-based dementia program used in the 18-bed memory care unit.

With easy access to shopping, recreation and museums, The Palms of St. Lucie West offers one- and two-bedroom floor plans with pet-friendly options. Planned outings, Wi-Fi, fitness and wellness programs and 24-hour staff are among the amenities offered.

Watercrest in St. Lucie West, 279 NW California Boulevard, 772-877-2596

Watercrest St. Lucie West is one of several Florida facilities its parent company, Watercrest Senior Living Group, opened in 2018. It features 102 assisted living apartments as well as 26 memory care apartments. In addition to standard services, residents enjoy wine tastings, engage in the Never Too Late interactive computer program and swim in the heated pool. Respite stays are available.

“Watercrest is relationship centered, resident driven,” says community relations director Diann McDonough. “Our nine platinum standards, including all-day resort-style dining, are what set us apart. We provide nursing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” To McDonough, the most valuable difference is that nurses, not medical technicians, provide medicine management. “At least twice a day, a nurse has eyes on residents.” All staff members, from housekeepers to nurses, are trained for working with dementia patients.

EXPLORE OPTIONS
Both plans and minds can change, but information empowers seniors and families to find the best possible solutions. While experts say there’s no “right” age at which to transition to assisted living, exploring options today will make tomorrow’s decisions that much easier.

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