Homes with help

Seniors have housing options


Assisted living: Community-based facility offering a mix of housing, personalized support services and health care designed to maintain independence.

Condominium: An apartment-style building where units are individually owned. Governed by an association.

Cooperative: Form of home ownership where like-minded people join together to own and govern through a non-profit corporation.


Independent living: An individual living unit or apartment within a community-based environment.

Patio home: Single-family, detached home with an association for maintenance and/or community facilities. Usually governed by an association.

Townhome: Single-family home with attached sidewalls. May or may not have community facilities and is governed by an association.

By Debi Neville

No matter what type of senior housing you are looking for, Rochester offers a wide variety of options. There are condominiums, townhomes, patio homes and cooperatives, as well as assisted and independent living communities.

"The time to check out housing options is when things are going well and everyone feels fine," said Jamie Bjerke, housing director for the Homestead at Rochester. "When there is a loss or a health crisis, making a major decision regarding living arrangements is very tough."

The 2-year-old Homestead facility, which Bjerke describes as "housing with services," offers three living choices. Independent living rentals range from a luxurious 2,053 square feet to a modest 725 square feet.


Assisted living offers a supportive staff that oversees health, food and housekeeping needs of residents. The Memory Care Center provides controlled access, yet allows dementia sufferers to stay in their own apartments. All staff members, including housekeeping and food service, receive specialized training.

Homestead at Rochester and other communities like it offer many amenities, including a beauty/barber shop, food service, fitness center, activity and community rooms and even small "general store" facilities.

A new Rochester co-operative, River Bluff, is under construction and offers its future residents expanded services, including a business center, library, workshop and craft room.

"Homeowners are buying a lifestyle, not just square footage," said Shona Schmall, marketing associate at River Bluff. "Our residents share in the ownership of the facility and decide on policies for the co-op."

River Bluff is near the river and one of the city’s many walking trails. Seniors are looking for aesthetics and location, in addition to services and amenities, according to Schmall.

Security is a major reason condominium owner Connie Martin bought her home a few years ago.

"Controlled access to the condominiums and secured parking were primary factors in my housing choice," said Martin.

Another advantage of the condo lifestyle, according to Martin, is the proximity of neighbors.


"There is virtually no noise, yet I know my neighbors and it gives all of us a sense of community. We watch out for each other," she said.

Numerous townhomes are available in the area and are a great option for those who no longer want to take care of exterior home maintenance, like snow removal and lawn care.

Owners of patio homes enjoy a detached, single family home without the work of mowing and shoveling. While it’s still a relatively new concept in the area, the custom homes are available in a wide range of styles and sizes.

Prices vary widely on rental costs or purchase prices for all choices. There are monthly association fees connected to services. Some have strict age requirements and others do not.

With baby-boomers and the aging population living longer and more actively than those of their ancestors, lifestyle choices are more important than ever. With proper research and advice from a professional knowledgeable in senior housing, you can plan for the future and make the decision that’s right for you.

Debi Neville is a Rochester freelance writer.

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