Shelburne Bay: a Vermont sense of community for seniors

Born between 1946 and 1964, members of the so-called baby boom generation have redefined everything from pop culture to politics. The generation that includes both U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton continues to reshape American society in many ways. Now, as the oldest members of the post-World War II generation prepare to retire, society is destined to be reshaped yet again: early indications show that boomers will expect more out of their retirement communities. Chittenden County is one Vermont locale that has attracted several senior living communities. Shelburne Bay, Wake Robin, the Terraces, and the Arbors (a memory care facility) are typical of the area. But Shelburne Bay stands out among the communities because residents rental costs cover nearly all services. A glimpse of what the future of luxury senior housing has in store for baby boomers can be seen locally at Shelburne Bay, located at Route 7 and Pine Haven Road in the Town of Shelburne. Now with 134 residents, the 112-unit senior rental communitybuilt and managed by Shelburne-based Bullrock Constructionfirst opened its doors in 1999. A Shelburne Bay addition was constructed in 2004 and now, as the waiting list swells for those 55-plus who want to retire in Shelburne, Bullrock is poised to add an adjacent building. The proposed structure will meet a portion of the demand when ground is broken in spring 2008. Because theres no buy-in at Shelburne Bay, many residents we talked to found it an attractive option over other luxury senior communities they investigated. Shelburne Bay encompasses a variety of needs from independent and assisted living options to a memory-care unit that offers seniors dignity with freedom of movement. And because these living options are now within reach for seniorsand under one roofthe philosophy of places such as Shelburne Bay are catching on. Bullrocks Shelburne Bay and Lodge at Otter Creek adult living communitiesthe even grander Lodge is now under construction in Middleburyare attracting national attention. Others are emulating our formula, said Beldock. Who would have thought? Almost overnight, Shelburne and Middlebury have become in-demand places to retire in the northeast. And why not? Personal independence and safety, in a beautiful four-season environment, appeals to young and old alike. Facing some resistance from the Shelburne Development Review Board, which forced a scale back of the original annex project in September, Beldock is still optimistic that ground will be broken for the new building in spring 2008. The proposed construction project wasnt helped either when a local newspaper published an exaggerated, draft rendering of the proposed building, according to Phil Lassalle, Bullrocks vice president of marketing. The newspaper never corrected the error and created a false impression, Lassalle indicated. Later, a busload of vocal Shelburne Bay residents attended a development review board meeting to voice their support of the neighborhood project. The proposed building, designed to stand alone, will incorporate classic 1880s New England design elements in its exterior. A secure underground connector will link both buildings. And just like the main Shelburne Bay building, the new structure will offer an equally comfortable, homey environment to residents. From a Queen Anne-style wing chair, next to the cozy fireplace inside the communitys Great Room, Shelburne Bay is a surprisingly beautiful place with its scenic western view overlooking a small artificial pond and Lake Champlain beyond. According to 92-year-old resident Elizabeth Davis, a native of Marshfield, Vt., Shelburne Bays top attraction is security. I feel very safe here, Davis said, and our shuttle bus is convenient for shopping and doctor appointments. Davis typifies many of the independent residents of Shelburne Bay. I try to walk two miles a day, she said. And theres so much I like here. I know most everybody. Lifes later years are to be cherished and enjoyed, said Diane M. Way, director of Shelburne Bay.We provide the atmosphere and support to help make that possible. Our residents select which services will make life more convenient and enjoyable. They choose an apartment from a variety of independent living floor plans and a wide range of events and activities offer daily social opportunities. The Shelburne Bay wheelchair accessible bus provides scheduled transportation for those who choose not to drive. And our varied menus give even the most discriminating diner a delicious selection at each meal. The decision to move to a senior community is not an easy one. Personal changes may be difficult for family members, particularly those who live at a distance. But with progressive thinking senior living communities such as Shelburne Bay making community life safe, vibrant and caringon all levelssuch major life decisions are easier for families to make.

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