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About Era Living
Aging with healthiness, happiness, and respect... that's what Eli and Rebecca Almo, founders and owners of Era Living's eight Seattle-area communities, believe retirees deserve. Born and raised in Seattle, the couple had spent a decade in real estate development and was seeking a venture with a higher purpose that represented their values and beliefs. That's when they noticed a lack of options for seniors to obtain passionate and professional care. Rebecca Almo describes their passion as respecting and honoring older adults by enhancing the quality of their lives. "That's what we're good at, and that will always be our focus. This is clear from the moment you walk into any of our communities," she says on the community's website.
Opened between 1987 and 2009, those communities are located in Bellevue, Broadview, Issaquah, Seattle/Renton, Mercer Island, North Seattle, Ravenna, and Wallingford -- each with its own distinct atmosphere. Most Era Living communities charge a monthly fee dependent upon the unit, while for others there is an initial purchase price for the residence.
Building a Community of Communities
In 1987, the Almos purchased the Ida Culver House Ravenna, a retirement community for retired teachers, from the Seattle Education Auxiliary, an agreement that included a promise to develop a new community. In 1990, the Ida Culver House Broadview opened. As a testament to the care there, in 2012 the estate of a former resident established a $100,000 scholarship fund for staff to continue their education.
Ravenna currently has 90 residences, from studio apartments to two-bedroom units, many with floor-to-ceiling windows. Ida Culver House Broadview, featuring views of the Olympic Mountains, has 245 residences, ranging from studios and three-bedroom apartments to single family cottages with garages. Standouts in the community are terrace seating in the outdoor garden, a fireside lounge and library, an indoor pool, and regular outings to the symphony and other cultural events. Recent on-site events have included a Broadway musical series and a film talk series. A 74-bed Medicare-certified healthcare center is on site for those who need that level of care.
The next Era Living community, The Lakeshore, opened in 1995 in Seattle/Renton. Its 158 residences include studios and one- and two-bedroom units. Members of this community can take advantage of wellness and active aging programs made possible through a partnership with the University of Washington School of Nursing. In 2012, the Almos received an award from that school for volunteering efforts embodying the mission and values of the nursing school; they are School of Nursing Advisory Board Co-Chairs and program supporters.
Lakeshore residents often hail from the local neighborhood, and they are encouraged to bring favorite belongings along as they set up their new homes. Amenities include two scenic dining rooms, a crafts room, an indoor garden room with fireside lounge, a game and billiards room, and a library. Singing and dancing, spa days, BBQs, and happy hours are common occurrences. Typical day trip destinations include the mall or the casino.
University of Washington ties cropped up again in 1997, when a partnership with the University's Retirement Association (UWRA) brought about development of University House Wallingford. Living in the 146 one- and two-bedroom units -- which have 22 different layouts, most with private balconies -- are many retired teachers. Featuring fine art on the walls inside and lush landscaping outside, University House also has a large fitness center with access to a personal trainer, a business center with internet access, private meeting rooms, a salon and massage therapy center, and a professionally maintained, expansive library.
The UWRA partnership later resulted in University House Issaquah, which opened in 2002. Issaquah's 184 residences have 44 floor plans to choose from. Both communities have a "distinct academic flavor" and connection to lifelong learning opportunities.
Highlights at the University House Issaquah include an on-site wellness center, the Memory Fitness program (designed for a variety of cognitive levels), a saltwater swimming pool and whirlpool, an on-site salon, garden courtyards, two solariums, a game and crafts room (where residents can often be found socializing long into the evening hours), and an auditorium. Art shows have offered resident artists the opportunity to visit with renowned artists from the surrounding community.
The Gardens at Town Square, acquired in 2002, is nestled amongst shops and restaurants in Bellevue. Elegance was the aim in developing its 167 apartments, which have one or two bedrooms or are penthouse suites. Amenities include a restaurant, a bistro with scenic city views, an on-site wellness center, a full service salon, garden courtyards, a billiards room, and an in- house theater. Events have included an "Afternoon in Paris" featuring champagne, canapes, music, and attendees in their finest French hats; and a Flower Power wine, appetizers, and art event presented by the Evergreen Association of Fine Arts.
The most recent communities to open were Aljoya Mercer Island in 2008 and Aljoya Thornton Place in 2009, both with apartments featuring upscale details such as granite countertops and crown molding. Both assisted living and nursing care are available to Aljoya residents in the comfort of their own homes, and 60 days of complimentary assisted living services are offered.
The 114 residences of Mercer Island are studios sized up to three-bedroom apartments, and just steps away outside the door are walking paths, restaurants, and coffee shops. Residents can sip tea on the heated garden terrace or enjoy a workout in the saltwater pool. There's a restaurant and a bistro, plus an on-site salon and massage therapy studio, and a dance studio. Other highlights include game room and card lounges, a library, and an in-house movie theater.
And in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of North Seattle is Aljoya Thornton Place, where shopping, dining, and nature trails can be enjoyed in the vicinity. On the grounds is an organic garden, from which local shelter donations are made. Its 143 residences range from studios to three-bedroom penthouses. Community members can get a good meal at a restaurant or bistro, work out in the aquatic and fitness center, visit the on-site salon and massage therapy studio, or hang out by the fireside lounge, in the library, or in the game room and card lounge. Virtual golf is another treasured pastime. The community features a business center and conference center as well.
From monthly "Downsize to the Right Size" workshops to home visits where staff from most Era Living communities is available to help measure furniture and create a floor plan, the care begins before move-in day.
Residents benefit from a partnership with UW Pharmacy Cares, a medication-therapy- management program that educates and supports both residents and staff. One-on-one medication consultations and medication schedule optimization are among its services.
There's also the Life Transition Group and the Caregivers Support Group, launched through collaboration with the UW School of Social Work. Other ways to connect include a group for men and another for newcomers. Individual and family counseling services are at hand as well. Life enrichment and active aging programs are a key part of Era Living.
Assisted living services are provided in the privacy and comfort of residents' own homes. These include such services as bathing, dressing, mobility and medication assistance, dietary support, and memory support. Secured assisted living residences, which aim to maintain dignity, are available for those who develop dementia, Alzheimer's, or cognitive impairments.
As a courtesy, all Era Living residents get a daily check-in from staff and the communities are either pet-friendly or have residences that are. Concierge, transportation services, and weekly housekeeping services, are available too.
Through its many retirement community options, Era Living promises to put each resident -- no matter what his or her passion -- close to everything that is cherished and loved.
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