Isn't staying in my own home less expensive?

When making the important decision of where to live as you age, you need to take into account your overall health and well-being along with the finances. Many seniors think that staying in their homes is more affordable than joining an assisted living or senior living community but fail to take into account the various costs that can accrue. While you may not be paying rent or a mortgage, living at home can require basic home maintenance, like a new water heater or yard care, or projects to keep the home accessible based on your abilities. These improvements can include installing a stair lift, wheel chair ramps, or remodeling a bath (to include a curbless shower and installing hand rails, for example). All these projects have a cost, and it’s important to research to see if they will add to your home value or not.

There are also costs associated with independent living and retirement home communities, here are a few things to consider when researching to see what’s included in your monthly rent or joining fee: waiting list deposit, move-in fee, housekeeping, meals, TV, utilities (phone, internet, electricity), transportation, parking, field trips, wellness programs. Also ask about assisted living services, how are they provided and how are costs established. What are the maximum costs for such services. Assisted living services are available in private residences as well but can be higher than those at a retirement community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are satisfied you have the information you need.


Rising costs are also a consideration. At The Willows we have a special program that eliminates much of the mystery and let's you plan long term, it's called LifeMinded™ RewardsIt’s a one of a kind program that limits or eliminates any rent increase you’ll experience at The Willows. No gimmicks or additional fee. Learn all the details about  LifeMinded™ Rewards. 



How can I avoid losing my independence?

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 should 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 a LifeMinded 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.



Can I afford this?

For many seniors, living on a fixed income brings concerns of outliving your retirement savings. There are many things you can do to ensure you are living within your means, hiring a financial adviser, developing a budget, and preparing for the possibility that you may become unable to handle your finances. A large portion of your nest egg will be spent on living expenses, so it’s important to consider housing related daily, monthly and yearly costs. And while nobody can predict the future at The Willows we limit any rent increases with our LifeMinded™ Rewards program. It’s a one of a kind program that limits or eliminates any rent increase you’ll experience at The Willows. And it starts after you’ve lived here just 3 years.  Get all the details here.  



Is being “social" really that important?

As we age, our worlds tend to get smaller. There are many reasons for this, but studies have found that it’s not good for our health. Staying social is associated with heart and immune system health, lowering depression risk and overall longer life. Being isolated triggers feelings of loneliness that can put your body into a chronic stress response, and constant presence of stress hormones leading to poor health outcomes.

Shrinking social circles, poor health, life changes, and transportation issues can all inhibit your ability to have an active social life. That’s why living in a senior living or senior housing community that promotes health and activity, while making socializing easy and convenient, is critical to living a vibrant and engaged senior life.

Here are some suggestions for how to stay social:

One-on-one time: Meet up for coffee or tea with a friend. Make it a regular date so you don’t have to remember to schedule it again and again. Invite someone over for a meal at your home. Take your pet (or just yourself) on a walk to somewhere where people congregate. Video chats or phone calls can be good substitutes when distance is a factor, but it’s worth the effort to get face-to-face in the same room whenever possible.

Group activities can be beneficial because they have structure and usual meeting times. You can meet new people and develop friendships by seeing people on a regular basis. It’s one of the advantages of living at a senior housing or senior apartment community, but you can still be social even if you aren’t part of a retirement community. Explore the options at your local religious organization, or non-profit to be a part of group studies, choirs, book clubs, or service projects. Even if you don’t like big groups, there are lots of activities that are ideal for 3, 4 or 5 people; take that walk together, play a board game, or maintain a communal garden, a little company goes a long way in keeping you healthy.


The best way to tell if a place is the right fit for you is to try it out. It's a big decision and we understand that. It's why we invite you to be our guest and spend a few days with us, on us. To find out more just click  HERE  and then select the SCHEDULE A VISIT link. We look forward to seeing you.



How does aging impact nutrition?

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 affect 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.

A LifeMinded community will 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. The best senior housing and retirement homes will have a full-time chef on site that can bring spice to your life, and more nutritious foods to your table.


At The Willows we're pretty proud of our Riverfront dining with all meals prepared under the watchful eye of Chef Michael Morris. But don't take our word for it, please contact us  Join us for dinner.  On the house.

Here are some frequently asked questions about The Willows:

If you have additional questions, we're here to help, please contact us.


LifeMinded is an approach we’ve practiced since we opened in 1985. It is also what distinguishes us from other senior living communities in the area. LifeMinded promotes the benefits of “engaged living,” using special, proven techniques and practices designed for seniors based on the “Seven Dimensions of Wellness” model created by the International Council on Active Aging®. Our LifeMinded approach helps every Willow's resident 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. 

Read more about LifeMinded here.


Our residents have access to personal care and assisted living services in the comfort of their apartments. Even though we are an independent senior living community, there is no need to leave The Willows if you need assistance with grooming, laundry, medication reminders or other personal matters. Access to assisted living services can be provided on your terms by our partners or anyone of your choosing.

Read more about our partners and the services they provide here.


Our services and amenities include:

  • Lunch or dinner daily in our restaurant-style dining room through our flexible meal plan.
  • Scheduled transportation for shopping, medical and dental appointments, banking, church, etc.
  • Access to a wide variety of classes, trips, cultural events and fitness opportunities.
  • 24-hour staffing and a security and emergency response system. 
  • concierge who can provide information on a wide variety of services including assistance with personal care, shopping services, and other support for you and your family.
  • Weekly housekeeping.
  • Utilities, including cable, included in your rent.

Read more about our services and amenities here.


Yes, small pets are welcome with payment of a one-time fee. Residents provide for their own pet needs in designated areas of our grounds. (If you need dog-walking, we’ll be glad to connect you with that service.)


Transportation services are available regularly to many local shopping, banking, mailing and entertainment venues. In addition, transportation is available for personal medical and dental appointments. Your concierge will gladly help you with scheduling. In addition - Whatcom Transportation Authority maintains a stop at our front door.


No—our residents do not sign leases. We rent our apartments on a month-to-month basis. Typically, we require 30-day notice if you choose to leave. A $1500 non-refundable community fee will secure an apartment of your choice for up to 30 days. 


Yes, we maintain two guest apartments for friends and family. There is a reasonable charge for these accommodations.


Yes. You will be asked to work with our manager if you are interested in painting your apartment or otherwise personalizing it. Let’s talk about your ideas.


Food service manager Stacey Jones and her staff prepare lunch and dinner daily in our dining room. Your monthly service fee includes the equivalent of one meal per day, per month. 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.


Yes. We don’t have “assigned seating.” When you arrive for dinner, our maître d' will greet and seat you. You can also make a reservation for a specific time if you like. Room service and take-out service are always available as well.


We do not have assigned parking. Our parking is free and plentiful. We also offer valet parking to you and your guests at no charge.


The Willows is proud to partner with Dual Path. Wireless internet access is provided throughout the common areas of The Willows. In addition, Dual Path can provide your own private secure high speed internet access in your apartment along with great technical support. The cost is $30.00 per month. We are happy to provide you with more information on this great partner.


Yes. We think you’ll be delighted by how easy it is. Each time you visit, we’ll introduce you to many of the people who live and work here. We hope that by the time you join us, you will already know several people by name. When you move in, our relocation coordinator will be available to answer all the questions you or your family may have. We also have a group of residents who serve as “ambassadors” and welcome new residents. At meals, our maître d’ will seat you for dinner, introducing you to your tablemates. In no time at all, you’ll feel like one of the family.


The Willows is family-owned. It has been operated by Cascade Group since its opening in 1985. Viki Essex has served as our manager since we opened. 


For residents not yet eligible for LifeMinded rewards, we increase rent on the anniversary of your move-in date. In recent years, increases have ranged from 1-4 percent. Of course the sooner you move in, the sooner you’ll benefit from the savings offered by our LifeMinded Rewards.


Residents who have lived at The Willows for more than 3 years qualify for LifeMinded Rewards which offers one-of-a-kind peace of mind by limiting or eliminating rent increases while you live with us. Learn More.


Absolutely. Using paid models or stock photography just isn’t our style. Everyone pictured on this site is a member of The Willows community or a member of one of our two other LifeMinded communities in Issaquah, Washington and Eugene, Oregon. The people who live and work here love to rave about The Willows—just ask them.




Call (360) 671-7077, email us at,