Arbor Oaks of Andover offers much more than a place to sleep. It offers a place to socialize and many types of amenities for senior citizens in need of assistance.
“Think of your apartment as your bedroom and the community as your house,” is what marketing director Michelle Land likes to say.
Charlie Grimes was one of the first residents to move into this new three-story, 70-unit assisted living and memory care community Aug. 3, just two days after it opened at 1640 155th Lane NW.
He had previously lived in Bloomington since 1957, but chose to move to be closer to family. His wife Jane, who he married in 1952, died in 2010.
The staff outnumbered the residents at first, Grimes said, but gradually the tenants are moving in.
“I find people very friendly and helpful here,” he said.
As of late last week, 28 units are already or soon to be occupied, according to Kelsey Callahan, executive director.
Arbor Oaks has its own salon, chapel, coffee shop and fitness room.
Each of the three separate wings for assisted living, memory care and care suites has its own community room with a kitchen where a chef will whip up anything from swiss steak to grilled Korean chicken breast.
One of the social activities will afford a group the opportunity to meet the chef and discuss and try different menu ideas, Callahan said.
Every unit is like an apartment where residents can put pictures on the wall and bring in their own furniture that means a lot to them personally. All units have a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining area and living room, but there are one and two-bedroom options and some will offer more. Some of the assisted living units have an outdoor deck, for example.
Every resident will have different care needs. Some may just need help with house chores and getting around their apartment from time to time. Some will need more memory care assistance. Arbor Oaks can accommodate people with dementia, according to Callahan.
Licensed nursing staff will be in the building 24-7. Each of the 70 units has a button residents must press every morning by 10 a.m. If they do not do this, someone will check on them, Callahan said.
Garage stalls are for rent for residents able to drive. Callahan said this amenity is unique for senior living facilities. Most will have one large underground parking lot.
For residents unable to drive, Shary Larson will drive them to the store and many other places for field trips in Arbor Oaks’ van.
As Arbor Oaks’ wellness director, Larson plans and leads all social activities and she already has many in mind.
The Sweet Toppings frozen yogurt shop down the street, the Andover YMCA/Community Center, Lyric Arts, packaging food at Feed My Starving Children and various other stores are some of the local destinations she has in mind. When the group gets large enough, she would love to take them to Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
There will be plenty of social opportunities for residents who mostly want to stay at home. One activity she does in the memory care wing is “name that tune.” She will play the first few notes of a song that these senior citizen residents would know.
As the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination approaches, there will be many opportunities for all residents to recall where they were when they heard the news. Larson has invited historian David Jones to come speak about this moment in American history.
Larson will have activities planned throughout the day and will frequently be found playing cards with residents when a group activity is not going on. She would rather see them playing cards or doing a word puzzle game than watching television to keep their minds active.
“I’m concerned about their well-being,” Larson said. “If I can encourage them to come out during social time and have a fun time, it slows down Alzheimer’s for all of us.”
Bea Steyer had only been at Arbor Oaks for two nights before she was interviewed Aug. 30, but already is acquainted with many of the staff, who know she loves to give hugs. Steyer had moved to Andover in 2000, but lived in the River Oaks of Anoka senior facility the last two-and-a-half years before deciding to move back to Andover.
Steyer now can enjoy a view of a row of trees outside her kitchen window and she has her own washer and dryer in her apartment unit. She is looking forward to introducing Larson and other new friends to a card game called “hand and foot.”
“The girls are super here. I can’t complain on anything at all,” Steyer said.
For more information, called Arbor Oaks of Andover at 763-205-2248 or visit www.arboroakseniorlivingmn.com.
Eric Hagen is at