Most of the time one size doesn't really fit all "” especially when it comes to clothing. Retirement living is no different.

Luckily today's retirement communities have learned the "one size" lesson and focus on individual needs instead of applying a package deal mentality.

"As you get older, your needs change, sometimes from year to year," says Oscar Jarnicki, co-owner of Eastgate Village. "We try to go over what it is the client is looking for, what their needs are so we can address present "” and future "” requirements."

A facility like Eastgate Village, with 153 apartments on four levels, is planned to put every level of service under one roof including independent living and assisted living with various therapy and nursing care available to those who need it, when they need it, including an emergency call alarm monitored 24 hours a day by the home health agency on site.

"It's customized care," he says. "Instead of selling one package, we want to cater to one person at a time." Residents include those living independently to those who prefer that someone else do the cooking to those who may need therapy, nursing care, even private caregivers.

"I think it's very important for anyone looking for services to do an assessment beforehand to determine what the individual's needs are and see how best a particular community can meet those needs."

What makes Eastgate stand out is the local ownership by Jarnicki and Mona Jo Trowbridge. "We are one of the few that are locally-owned and operated. We are there every day. We know everyone and everyone's family. This place is almost an extension of us," says the former hospital administrator and nursing care facility owner.

He sees the biggest challenge for residents as the initial move. "Making change when someone has lived in one place for so many years and has to downsize is very difficult. We try to get people to recognize that this is still their own home. They can come and go as they please, do as much or as little as they please. You have the independence but also the security of being with others.

Once residents take that step and make the change most say they should have done it sooner he says. "They end up liking the freedom and flexibility."

"We want people to realize that this is a lifestyle change that can be very, very beneficial to them if they just give it a chance. Most of their children love it the minute they see the place because they see the carefree living "” no worrying about laundry or cooking, cleaning, paying bills."

"This can be such a great lifestyle. It can be great for everyone. Our objective to make life more carefree for everyone "” the residents, their kids and relatives."
 
Eastgate Retirement Village, 776 Cincinnati Batavia Pike (old Ohio Rte 74), (513) 753-4400, www.eastgatevillage.com
 


A Cruise Ship on Land

Maple Knoll Village isn't your grandmother's retirement home.

Describing Maple Knoll Village as a "cruise ship on land" might not be the comparison that comes to mind for many, but it suits Becky Schulte, Maple Knoll Village director of communications, just fine.

"I'm on a one-person crusade to change people's views," she says. "It's not just a nursing home. The health care is there if you need it, but it's just one small piece of the community."

As a retirement community Maple Knoll is a far cry from old perceptions of senior living. The facilities that most remember probably didn't have tai chi water classes, warm water pools, pubs with big screen TVs, poker games, planned trips and a concierge . . . let alone four social directors, including one just for the assisted living community.

"In most people's minds, they remember grandma's nursing home," Schulte says. "And we do have that. But the reason you should come here is that this retirement community takes care of all the things that aren't fun in life like security, housekeeping, lawn care. You can push all that aside here. Let us worry about the furnace."

Instead of fretting about those details you can be busy planning outings, exercising, going to classes and discovering new hobbies and friendships.

"We can keep you busy morning till night if you participate in everything," Schulte says. "It's not a place you come and just sit. It's an active community for people who enjoy life."
 
Maple Knoll Village, 11100 Springfield Pike, (513) 782-2717, www.mapleknoll.org.