Justin Roberts is the Executive Director of Waltonwood Senior Living Community, a family-owned senior housing operation based out of Michigan. Justin first discovered his passion for taking care of the elderly while he was studying exercise physiology in college, trying to hone down what direction he wanted to go in the healthcare industry. During this time, his grandmother had a stroke and needed intensive care, skipping any transition from independent to assisted living.
Though Justin’s knowledge of senior care was limited at the time, he realized there should have been options available prior to hospice stay that his grandmother could have taken advantage of. “It was really no turning back after that,” Justin reflects. “I took a couple of classes at George Mason University…and fell in love with the IBM concept and how I could change people’s lives and give them a better quality of life in an environment where you could access the services and amenities, but still keep your independence as long as possible.”
Services and Amenities of Waltonwood
Waltonwood Senior Living stands out in a competitive market of retirement centers due to their tightly knit community and the variety of services they offer. “We offer an independent living environment for somebody 55 and older,” says Justin. “They can move into an apartment style living, and that’s really what it feels like. It’s an apartment complex for seniors.” Waltonwood offers several size options, all the way up to 1400 square feet. The complex provides an intimate environment for its residents to interact and socialize easily.
There are multiple levels of care available; with an assisted living upgrade, residents can relax as someone will be there to help them with dressing, bathing, grooming, and pushing their wheelchair if applicable. Waltonwood also offers a Memory Care program for residents with dementia. This program provides an even more intimate living environment in its own specialized area. According to Justin, “As the disease progresses, it’s really what those residents need to have successful days and interactions.”
“It’s a huge perk we have here, being able to offer everything under one roof,” says Justin. Residents can check into Waltonwood under the Independent Living option without having to worry about transferring to another community down the road thanks to the available Assisted Living upgrades.
As one of the community’s residents eloquently stated, Waltonwood is like a “cruise ship on land.” Everything that is offered for Independent Living residents is also offered for Assisted Living residents, so the community is truly connected regardless of any physical hindrance. Residents are able to enjoy a movie theatre, fitness area, craft room, salt water therapy pool, barber and beauty salon, library, post office, indoor/outdoor greenhouse and flower garden, computer workstations, billiards, lounge, courtyards, elegant dining room, and resident-run and chef-used fruit, herb, and vegetable garden. Additionally, Waltonwood offers EXPAND Life Enrichment Programs, which include educational classes, seminars, trips and outings, gardening projects, museum visits, games, entertainment, cultural activities, and more.
Why Choose Waltonwood?
Justin has always found the people to be the most important ingredient to a successful operation. “We pride ourselves on our residents not being a number,” Justin says. “They’re a name and a person, and that’s somebody that I instill on our team members that we have here working to service our residents…We want to really get to know who’s living here.” Though Waltonwood has an above average offering of amenities and services, by far the most valuable component to the thriving community has been the way the team and the residents connect and the positive atmosphere they maintain every day.
“A lot of people think that senior housing is a bunch of older, grey-haired women sitting around a table playing bingo and sort of eating tapioca pudding,” laughs Justin. “It’s really a lot more than that. You see a thriving community here. Residents from all walks of life are here under one roof, enjoying their lives.”
Before he really got to know his residents, even Justin was guilty of making assumptions about what sort of activities they would be interested in. His residents are constantly passionate about trying new things and maintaining an active lifestyle. “It’s different than it was ten years ago,” Justin says. “You have to step up your game every single day with our seniors that live here, which is, I think, a great thing. It’s a challenge.” Every day Justin asks himself how he can top the previous day and improve Waltonwood’s level of service.
Another common misconception is that senior housing is a place under lockdown and that once you check in, you’re stuck. “You really don’t have to go anywhere,” Justin says. Everything you need is provided inside of the complex for the sake of convenience. However, there is nothing stopping residents from venturing off for the day to tour the city or catch their grandson’s soccer game. In fact, Waltonwood operates its own transportation department that will take residents anywhere they need to go in Northern Virginia.
Deciding when and how to start planning for retirement can be difficult without any guidance. Justin recommends starting to plan around age 40 or 50 in order to explore the many options available and take full advantage of all the services and amenities. “I’d love to see more people take advantage of senior housing,” he expresses.
To learn more about planning for the future, you can interact with Waltonwood on their Facebook page, browse through community events at https://www.waltonwood.com/ or give them a call at (571) 933-8046 during any time of day.