With close to 40,000 residents over the age of 60, Greater Gainesville is home to geriatric health care centers and associated services pivotal to the community’s well-being. Situated close to six major UF Health hospitals, an array of long-term care and assisted living facilities offers up the comfort of knowing you’ll be looked after, no matter what your budget or circumstances. Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, the Atrium, and the Village at Gainesville each offer unique packages and amenities for residents with varying levels of self-reliance. From completely independent living within the tree-adorned communities, where lawn maintenance and vigilant security are among the perks, to more contained units with nurses and doctors on call 24/7, housekeeping, and a variety of dining options, you will find the community and peace of mind to suit your retirement ambitions.
If a medical emergency does arise that cannot be taken care of by the in-community staff, six prestigious UF Health hospitals, along with a number of smaller emergency rooms, are all a short ride away, further ensuring that your health is well-maintained. UF Health and North Florida Regional Medical Center are both known for their outstanding patient satisfaction, the latter boasting four Senior Health Centers spanning the Greater Gainesville area. UF Health is home to the Institute on Aging, a leading authority in geriatric health care that features a variety of rehabilitation services and is a leader in robust international research on elder care designed to enhance the quality of life during all stages of the aging process.
Greater Gainesville is also home to the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health. Led by neurologist Dr. Michael Okun and neurosurgeon Dr. Kelly Foote, the institute is home to scientists and clinicians at UF Health who are working on neurological disorders that afflict millions of people across the globe. The institute is a leading destination for patients and families seeking care for Parkinson’s, dystonia, and other movement disorders; Alzheimer’s disease and dementias; concussion and traumatic brain injury; and neuromuscular disorders like ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Our beloved veterans who sacrificed so much for the freedoms and quality of life enjoyed by all who call Greater Gainesville home are not forgotten. The Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, aside from being the largest health care provider in North Florida for veterans, also encompasses a Community Living Center, which is monitored and maintained 24/7 by an elite team of medical professionals. The Geriatric Evaluation and Management Center, or GEM, offers up an impatient unit consisting of 18 beds intended for short stays for elderly patients with complex medical conditions. From strokes to self-care, falls to frequent hospitalizations, the GEM ensures that Greater Gainesville’s heroes are well tended to so that they may return to their families and communities with renewed health and independence.
With 20% of the population over the age of 60, and an estimated 25% of them living alone, the Senior Recreation Center has been a boon for the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of the geriatric community. Social isolation tethered to a lack of soulful connections and engaging activities can often be detrimental to seniors’ overall health. This 17,000-square-foot recreation and activity center is serviced by staff members of ElderCare of Alachua County who plan and organize daily activities while the city of Gainesville assists with logistical support, land and space procurement, the maintenance of grounds and facilities, as well as an affordable regional transportation system. From preventive screenings to health and nutrition classes, to volunteer opportunities, to a multitude of daily activities, including sewing, cards, and a heated battle of Bingo, the Recreation Center fosters a degree of socialization and community engagement that is often absent during this stage of life. The Center is blessed with a well-equipped gym, and its fitness activities run the gamut from in-chair yoga to tai chi for arthritis, to mental sharpness training with meditations and mind games, to a variety of dancing lessons, including the most popular Zumba Gold, a Latin dance-style exercise class that is modified in its moves and exertion requirements to accommodate the senior attendees. Somehow can’t find an activity for you? No worries. The program’s leads are happy to connect with the local volunteer community and create a class tailor-made for your desires.
The Institute for Learning in Retirement, or ILR, situated at Oak Hammock but open for enrollment to all North Central Florida residents 55 years or older, offers up to 15 courses each semester that is taught by UF faculty. Keep your mind sharp with a scholastic journey into science and technology, Islamic culture, humanities, or elder law and continue your education and capacity for curiosity. Al’s Place, an adult day care accommodating those who have had Alzheimer’s disease or severe memory impairment for at least 18 months, provides an amalgam of active and quiet games, reminiscence training, validation therapy, and other failure-free activities five days a week, along with a hot lunch and two snacks. Speaking of food, Meals on Wheels operates six meal sites for hot lunches along with home-delivered meals for those who cannot leave their house and crave a little bit of personal contact. Nutritional information is provided and dietary restrictions are taken into account for seniors in need. Along with a donation-enabled food pantry, monthly transportation vouchers, and other home-based services like case management, emergency alert, and personal care, Greater Gainesville strives to take care of all its seniors in the most comprehensive way possible. From the abundant care of living facilities to the fostering of connection and purpose through social interactions and engaging activities, improving the quality of life for seniors not only greatly enhances their day-to-day existence, but it reduces the need and strain on the long term health care system, creating a win-win situation.
Live, Learn, Retire!
Retirement living has changed! It’s evolved! Seniors aging into retirement are on the lookout for healthy, active communities with an easy-to-access lifestyle. Seniors are purposefully seeking out cities with a vibrant downtown, access to continuing education and fitness, diverse activities that include the arts, and exceptional health care.
U.S. News & World Report agrees and adds, “A college town makes for an excellent place to retire.” This digital news agency says that seniors enjoy many of the same things that college students require; affordable housing, active lifestyles and a sense of community.
Home to top-ranked University of Florida and Santa Fe College, Greater Gainesville’s list of amenities is impressive. Three Top 100 U.S. Hospitals – UF Health Shands Hospital, North Florida Regional Medical Center, UF Shands Children’s Hospital – in addition to Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center are within the boundaries of this medium-sized university city. A burgeoning biotechnology hub and vibrant business community, premier museums and concert venues, and much more round out Greater Gainesville’s allure.
Whether you prefer living within walking distance to restaurants, businesses and doctor’s appointments, a history-filled home steps from Gainesville’s quaint and charismatic downtown, or enjoy complete health care within a gated retirement community, housing in Greater Gainesville checks all the boxes for seniors looking to retire here.
“Retirees in 2020 are looking for something different,” says Edgar Campa-Palafox, Alachua County Economic Development Coordinator. “Quality of life has a different meaning than it did a decade ago. The trend is toward a connected, active, healthy lifestyle. That energy that a college community and students bring,” he continues, “is vital to retirees today.”
Economic forecaster Kiplinger recently named Gainesville one of 7 Great Places to Retire in Florida (2019). In sanctioning the city, Kiplinger acknowledges that much like college students, a priority for retirees is affordability, and finds Gainesville financially attractive to seniors.
Based on no state taxes – and homestead exemptions up to $50,000 – Kiplinger says those 65 and up will keep more of their income to themselves. This means there is no state tax on Social Security benefits, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement income. State inheritance taxes and property taxes are reasonable as well.
“Lower cost of living compared to most northern cities, the thriving Gainesville downtown and an abundance of fine arts that includes 13 museums and galleries,” according to Kiplinger, puts Gainesville in the top seven alongside St. Augustine and Sarasota.
Gainesville’s economic advantages are highlighted by average daily temperatures of 70°F and a central location equidistant to both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic beaches. Easy access to transportation is also inviting to retirees. The Gainesville Regional Airport, bus transit that includes 40 city routes, and topranked biking trails make Greater Gainesville attractive to retirees.
Best-place-to-retire.com says in addition to Gainesville’s “cozy quintessential downtown that exudes hospitality… the surrounding towns like High Springs, Alachua, Cross Creek and Micanopy dial-up the charm even further, each in their own individual way.”
“Historically, the attraction (to Gainesville) was to come and follow the kids and grandkids to the college town that they were calling home,” says Eric Godet, Sr., President of the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, “but what’s really happened is that the resources are an advantage to the seniors.” Godet says, “A university town has many amenities that a lot of seniors love.”
Being an interior city also bodes well for safety during hurricane season. Although residents are atrisk for tropical storms, our location once again lessens the risk. A recent insurance study places Gainesville amongst the Top 10 Safest Cities in Florida During a Hurricane.
The Guide to Greater Gainesville is filled with information and details that will help you enjoy the area’s best features. Below you will find the many ingredients that appeal directly to those who are looking forward to an active, healthy retirement in our vibrant college community.
Retirees in 2020 don’t think of themselves as slowing down. Those 65 and older want to remain active and adventurous. With an overflowing calendar of county events, Gator Nations nationally-ranked football, basketball, gymnastics and baseball teams to root on, dozens of nature and water features to dip into, museums, music venues and more, Greater Gainesville continues to promote an active lifestyle for every age group, especially seniors.
Nine municipalities within the region provide countless parks, natural springs, waterways and hiking and biking trails. The area includes Blue Springs, Ginnie and Poe Springs located in High Springs, Cross Creek near Micanopy, and Lake Alto Park and Preserve in Waldo. Colclough Pond Nature Park, Clear Lake, Lake Alice, Newnans Lake and more in Gainesville, and Lochloosa Lake and the 51-acre Holden Pond in Hawthorne. Spend endless hours hiking, biking, swimming, tubing, kayaking, camping, and/or scuba diving any or all of these gems.
Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails entice seniors to get outdoors, too. UF Campus’ Greenway alone offers more than 18 trails, covering 241 miles.
Opened in 2012, the 17,000-squarefoot Senior Recreation Center (hours Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), falls under the umbrella of UF Health and is also partnered with the City of Gainesville and ElderCare of Alachua County. It is 100% funded by grants and donations and membership is free to those 65 and up.
Located on NW 34th Boulevard in Gainesville, the center offers a variety of programs for the youngest baby boomer to the oldest senior and their caregiver. ElderCare of Alachua County runs the day-to-day operations of the center, which includes health education, physical fitness activities, nutritional services, preventative screenings, arts and cultural activities, social and volunteer opportunities, and more. ElderCare also provides services such as Al’z Place, a daycare for Alzheimer’s patients.
Recreational activities at the center continue to grow. Join in a bridge club, Quilter’s of Alachua County, yoga class, Zumba, exercise, chess, games, pingpong, salsa and merengue, wood carving and whittling, knitting and much more.
East Gainesville recently added two locations for senior activities in 2019. The Cone Park Senior Recreation Center is opened Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and The Vineyard/Senior Citizen Center has programs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday. Both sites are open to Alachua County residents 60 and older. Activities include games, bingo, Zumba Gold, with educational programs scheduled for the future.
Many seniors prefer private gym memberships and they are plentiful in Alachua County. Those with Silver Sneakers memberships (Medicare beneficiaries’ free program) can choose from dozens of gyms in the area including UF Health Fitness and Wellness Center, Planet Fitness, and others.
Volunteering is an important way retirees keep active and connected. Leisure.com explains that being relied upon can give seniors purpose and a sense of responsibility, while also encouraging social engagement and creating friendships.
“When we look at a lot of the cultural museums and their activities in our area, you’ll see many seniors are the ones who volunteer as docents and more,” says Chamber President Godet. He continues, “We’re noticing seniors are taking over those volunteer positions, and many others, because they get great enjoyment from them. Programs like the Reading Safari at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo are especially appealing to seniors.”
Godet explains, “I find there are areas that we are really benefitting from seniors volunteering, like Peaceful Paths and the Community Foundation.” In addition, Godet continues, seniors are important to the economics of the region. “They’re great financial contributors to charities in Greater Gainesville,” he says.
The University of Florida and Santa Fe College provide numerous educational opportunities for senior citizens. Based on availability, seniors that are Florida residents can audit any class at the University of Florida – no tuition or fees required. Those 60 and over need only fill out an audit form and residency classification form.
Over a thousand students per semester enjoy the curricula of The Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) located at Oak Hammock at the University of Florida. With courses taught by UF professors, ILR is open to retirees in the region. Offering 15 courses each semester, those 55 and older can select from diverse classes ranging from anthropology to opera in a non-competitive environment with no testing.
MarketWatch.com, a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company, cites the needs and likes of older Americans and college students aren’t so varied. A survey reported by Market Watch in 2019 explains that boomers will be most concerned with living in proximity to an urban location or town center. Up 7% from 19% in 2017 to 26% in 2019.
The National Council for Aging says senior citizen housing isn’t what it used to be, and that is good news! And, they add, “If you asked an active senior citizen today about their outlook on life, there’s a good chance that they would say something along the lines of ‘You’re as young as you feel!’”
Taking personal needs and style into account, are you at home with history? The 770-acre Pleasant Street Historic District provides easy access to downtown. Contemporary condominiums are also steps away from downtown and Starbucks at Union Station. Greater Gainesville also has several diverse multi-age, walkable communities, like the Town of Tioga in Newberry. It offers comfortable homes and trendy flats steps from movies and more. Haile Plantation, another multiuse live-work-play community on Gainesville’s southwest side, has condos, townhomes, and single-family detached homes available.
Master planned retirement communities are abundant in every type of setting throughout the region. Hunters Crossing Place, Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, Atrium of Gainesville, and The Village at Gainesville are just a few of the 65+ retirement communities you can call home. Various accommodations include stand-alone homes, condominiums, apartments and suites, with a range of amenities, activities and health care.
Retirement communities in Greater Gainesville neighborhoods have aligned themselves with seniors by adding more activities and healthier options, both in food and activities. And seniors, the fastest growing segment of the Alachua County population, are responding. “Seniors are realizing that living in a college town, especially Gainesville, has a lot of benefits that keep you young,” says Heather Damron of Florida Homes Realty and Mortgage.
Independent & Assisted Living in Greater Gainesville
ATRIUM AT GAINESVILLE
BROOKDALE GAINESVILLE SOUTHWEST
Assisted Living, Memory Care
GAINESVILLE HEALTH CARE CENTER
Skilled Nursing Facility
HARBORCHASE OF GAINESVILLE
Assisted Living, Memory Care, Respite
HUNTERS CROSSING PLACE
Assisted Living, Memory Care
NEXT STEP SOLUTIONS
Assisted Living, Memory Care, Respite
OAK HAMMOCK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Independent, Assisted Living, Memory Care
SWEETWATER AT DUCK POND
THE VILLAGE AT GAINESVILLE
Independent, Assisted Living, Memory Care
THE WINDSOR OF GAINESVILLE
Assisted Living, Memory Care
WATERCREST SENIOR LIVING
Assisted Living, Memory Care
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS (AARP)
AARP CHAPTER SERVICES
ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES
ALACHUA COUNTY SENIOR SERVICES DEPARTMENT
CENTSIBLE SENIOR SERVICES, LLC
COMFORT KEEPERS HOME CARE
ELDER ABUSE HOTLINE
ELDER OPTIONS HELPLINE
(THE) LEGAL CENTER FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES & OLDER PEOPLE
NATIONAL CENTER ON ELDER ABUSE
NURSE ON CALL HOME HEALTH CARE
TOUCHING HEARTS AT HOME
HOME CARE, PRIVATE DUTY & MORE
For a complete listing of independent & assisted living locations, in addition to senior resources, visit guidetogreatergainesville.com/directory.
With 20% of the population being over the age of 60, and an estimated 25% of those living alone, the Senior Recreation Center has been a boon for the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of the geriatric community.
Kiplinger Names Gainesville one of 7 Great Places to Retire in Florida
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 2017, an estimated 13.6% of the population in Alachua County is 65 or older. That’s more than 36,000 people!
40% relocate from surrounding counties
30% relocate from other counties in Florida
30% relocate from other states and countries – NY, PA, MA, CA
Look who’s Recommending Retirement in Greater Gainesville
Kiplinger named Gainesville one of 7 Great Places to Retire in Florida. Here are other organizations of note that agree:
7 Best Places to Retire (2019)
State of Florida Living
Best Places for Baby Boomers to Retire (2019)
Best and Most Affordable Place to Live in Florida (2019)
Best Places to Retire (2017)
AARP The Magazine
10 Ideal Places to Retire (2016)
Best Place to Retire (2013)
12 Small Metros: Best Cities for Successful Aging
7 Happiest Cities to Live in the U.S
65 & Older Alachua County Population