The Willows - A LifeMinded® Community
Assisted Living in Bellingham, Washington
The Willows, located in Bellingham, Washington is a senior apartment and retirement community providing outstanding care and our signature LifeMinded approach to engaged retirement living. Come home to a welcoming community, a fir-lined setting, and a Bellingham location convenient to everything.
Change is inevitable. Rent increases don’t have to be. People tend to live at The Willows longer than they expected, so we’ve found a way to help you plan for the future with greater financial certainty and confidence.
YOUR SENIOR LIVING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
No matter where you choose to live, this information can help you make an informed decision.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted Living is a term applied to many senior living and retirement communities but the assistance offered varies greatly. It is important to find a senior apartment or retirement home that provides the services you need and one that can accommodate your needs in the future as well.
There is no official, standardized definition of assisted living, but we find there are two basic types, those who support independent living and those who have the added support of on-site medical staff. Most active seniors do not need on staff medical support as a part of their senior housing. The want their own living space with the assistance of amenities that make their lives easier such as daily meals, housekeeping, health and wellness programs, social programs, transportation and access to medical services. Assisted living facilities are generally designed for those who don’t need the intensive medical care provided at nursing homes.
Does The Willows Senior Living Community offer the right assistance for you?
Common assisted living communities’ amenities include meals, housekeeping, transportation, medication assistance, emergency call service, planned activities and around the clock assistance if needed. The Willows offers all of these assisted living services. Some facilities are designed for people who are less independent and in need of more support. Their service offering typically includes licensed nursing, medication assistance and around-the-clock observation of health status. This type of facility is a step between independent living and a nursing home. People who have serious health issues or are in a state of rapidly declining health are better off with this type of care. At The Willows we bridge the gap between independent living and assisted living with partner providers such as Right at Home who provide extended services to allow our residents to get the help they need without leaving the comfort and safety.
As the saying goes, one size doesn’t fit all and one community isn’t the right fit for everyone. What is the right level of care for you is a complex question but one we are happy to help you work through it. We honestly want you to live where you receive the maximum benefit and are here to help you make your senior housing decision.
Independence is something we all hold dear. We desperately wanted our independence as teenagers and hold on to the concept even more dearly as we age. Nobody wants to give up their independence. It’s the number one reason people state for staying in their own home instead of moving to a senior apartment community yet there’s a problem with that logic. Staying in our homes tends have the opposite effect on our independence. Instead of giving us freedom, it tends to restrict us. Visiting friends and staying active can be difficult when living in one’s own home with limited access to transportation and activities. Maintaining and cleaning a house also requires time and money, which can limit many people’s choices and activities. Independence does not mean isolation but that’s often the result of “staying in my home.” People who move to an assisted living or Independent Senior Living Community have fewer logistical barriers and tend to become more active, have more social interaction and live fuller more purposeful lives. Most residents at The Willows Senior Living Community will tell you they resisted moving from their own homes as long as possible, but they will also tell you after making the move, they wish they had done it sooner.
What is an Independent Senior Living Community?
An Independent Senior Living Community is a community of active, healthy seniors who are able to live on their own. It may take the form of a neighborhood, apartment complex or a single large building. Independent living is frequently referred to as retirement communities, retirement homes, senior apartments, or senior housing. The key component is that you live in close proximity to one another which allows for a wide array of benefits. At The Willows these benefits include amenities that are very expensive or simply not available to an individual or couple, such as housekeeping, salons, transportation, security, a concierge, fitness center, and large communal rooms. Additional benefits if you choose to partake include a wide array of planned social activities, fitness and wellness programs, and meal services. Even if you choose not to engage socially, prepare your own meals and spend time out and about by yourself the peace of mind in being part of a larger retirement community is always there.
Aging in place.
Many Senior Living Communities also allow for “aging in place”. They are designed to accommodate seniors even as they lose some independence. Most find they do not have to leave their community, since it’s designed with amenities such as elevators, wide hallways, and easy access to part- or full-time caregivers. Should one need immediate assistance, every Willows senior apartment is set up with a voice activated call system for help. No need to search for pull cords or finding a phone, just a verbal expression of distress will alert the staff you need assistance. All of this is designed to allow you to age in place and results in a healthier mental and emotional state during any necessary recuperation.
Is the The Willows Senior Living Community the right place for you?
Just as every resident is unique, so is every senior housing or independent living community. Unlike most senior apartments that are owned by large corporations The Willows is a family owned community that just celebrated its 30th anniversary. We are proud of the longevity of our residents and our staff. It all adds up to a strong, healthy and supportive community. The best way to see if The Willows is right for you is to come in and visit. We know it’s a big decision and we let you take your time; there is no hard sell, just a chance to see and feel the difference. Meet the staff and residents, have a meal or spend a few days in the guest apartments (a wonderful benefit for residents families who visit from out of state) and participate in a social event or two. After that we’re sure you’ll know if The Willows Senior Living Community is right for you.
Our bodies change as we age.
Nutritional needs change as we age, but eating well doesn’t get any less important. Sadly, poor nutrition and malnutrition can easily be mistaken as illness. Consuming healthy food and key nutrients are a valuable preventative medicine for all seniors, and should be made a high priority.
Many issues can get in the way of this goal. Bodily changes, such as dental and gastrointestinal conditions, can effect what foods are satiating and appealing. Lack of interest in cooking and eating alone, financial concerns, and the ability to access the grocery store also play a role.
We also tend to use less energy as we age (staying active can help offset this), therefore a senior’s caloric needs are lower. That is why it’s important to be efficient in getting key nutrients into our systems. Common nutrient deficiencies include inadequate intake of vitamin A, B, C, D, E, folic acid and niacin. Focusing on healthy whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high protein foods such as meat, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, will help pack the nutrition you need into your daily caloric intake. Partaking in low nutrient foods like solid fats and added sugars doesn’t leave enough room in your diet for the nutritious foods. A daily multi-vitamin can also help fill in any gaps you may have, but is no substitution for healthy, nutrient-dense foods.
Senior apartment communities can help seniors meet their nutritional needs by providing easy access to healthful, well-balanced meals. Everyone gets sick of cooking and eating the same meals over and over again, but it’s difficult to meal plan and try new things. Senior housing and retirement homes often have a full-time chef on site that can bring spice to your life, and more nutritious foods to your table.
What’s on the menu at The Willows Senior Living Community?
In our dining room, Executive Chef Frank Blanchard and his staff create their menus and meals from scratch, on-site (with plenty of input from residents, of course). They use seasonal herbs, locally grown and from our own garden to add flavor and flair. And they tailor meals to residents' preferences and individual dietary needs. Unlike many national assisted living facility chains, The Willow’s menu is not dictated by a corporate entity. It’s dictated by the likes and needs of our residents. The dining staff is sure that there’s healthy fare every day (like a full salad bar) and special fare on those special occasions, like your birthday. We want the meals at The Willows to be nutritional but it’s also an important part of the day’s social activities as well. And on those occasions where you’re a bit under the weather, we’ve got room service available as well.
Many senior housing or retirement communities offer meals but do not include it as part of the basic services. At The Willows, we consider our meal program integral to your health and longevity. Having dinner daily in our garden-side dining room is included in your monthly rent. You can use your meals however you like, whenever you like, in any combination. If you miss meals, you’re free to “make them up” at any time during the same month. Our dining plan lets you tailor your dining service to fit your life.
Fitness - Body & Mind
FITNESS: BODY & MIND
Understanding your body and its relationship to nutrition and physical activity is critical to staying active as you age. You must also take responsibility for your health, by instituting good eating and active habits, and paying attention to your body’s warning signs.
Older adults who stay physically active live longer have healthy brains. Exercise can also help you avoid those pesky winter cold and flu viruses, while also lowering your likelihood of having more chronic conditions, such as heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Lots of people want to stay physically active, but making those habits and exercising discipline can be challenging, that’s why a senior living or senior apartment community can help! By making exercise structured, convenient, and social, you can meet your daily physical activity goals, enhance your life, and enjoy doing it.
Exercise, it’s for more than just your body.
In the same way that physical exercise can enhance your brain function, by exercising your brain, you can help your overall health. By challenging yourself, learning new things, and doing tasks that require active engagement, memory function can be improved and also increase seniors’ sense of well-being.
Many older adults find that living in an assisted living or senior housing community greatly enhances their ability to stay active by taking advantage of the senior-focused and structured wellness, fitness and nutritional programs offered by the retirement home.
How can living at The Willows Senior Living Community help you stay active?
Too often, we’re told aging must be a time of diminished expectations, contribution, and exploration. We vigorously disagree. Since we opened our doors as a senior housing and independent living community in 1986, our residents have benefited from a much different approach. We call it LifeMinded. Through it, we help every person who lives at The Willows create their own personalized program for living a full, satisfying and active life—often a more active life—regardless of their age. Retirement living as it was meant to be lived, full of life.
“A 2017 report from the International Council on Active Aging found that in Life Plan Communities with a wellness program, 91% of residents say their health and wellness is good, very good or excellent.” At The Willows, LifeMinded promotes the benefits of engaged and independent living, using special, proven practices designed for senior living, based on the "Seven Dimensions of Wellness" model endorsed by the International Council on Active Aging.
We break down Living LifeMinded into five categories, the first being physical fitness. From yoga to dancercise to walking, we offer many different fitness classes and outdoor activities. Keep your routines fresh and your motivation high as you maintain your all-important balance, core strength, heart health and flexibility.
Another category of LifeMinded is brain fitness. We strive to keep you sharp, and science increasingly shows that a honed and vigorous mind is the key to healthy functioning later in life. We mix learning in a social atmosphere with fun physical fitness exercises to help keep your mind limber and lucid.
The third category of LifeMinded is social connections. Living at The Willows means being embraced by a community. We offer many opportunities to build meaningful new relationships and nurture longstanding ones. We also offer group discussions and other structured support for residents seeking camaraderie and connection.
The fourth category of LifeMinded we term Making a Difference. We encourage our residents to pursue their passions. Your life’s work should be for life. We’re here to help as you keep making an impact. The Willows residents redefine retirement by volunteering, mentoring, creating, and more. Share your vision, and we’ll make the connections that make it possible.