We have had the good fortune to live, work and raise a family in Gainesville for the past 39 years. My wife and I have also enjoyed being retired here for the past six years. So, what’s so great about retirement in Gainesville? Let me tell you!
Being a retired family physician, I believe that a priority in retirement is maintaining one’s health, both physical and mental. Maintaining the physical part basically means exercising, eating right and seeking health care — preventive and curative.
Please see the Health Care section of this guide for more information about the amazing health professionals and facilities in this area.
As for the exercising part, Greater Gainesville abounds with opportunities. There are numerous exercise facilities, among them, the world-class Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers. My wife chooses to use the women-only center in the Thornebrook area. There, she joins her group of retirees to walk several miles three times a week, in addition to enjoying classes in yoga and pilates. Greater Gainesville also has opportunities for golf, tennis, swimming and numerous other diversions. And, speaking of swimming, one can enjoy the unique chance to swim in the area’s numerous crystal-clear refreshing springs, or travel a short distance west to snorkel in the Gulf of Mexico or east to body surf in the Atlantic Ocean!
There are multiple other activities (many of which I would place under the category of maintaining one’s mental health) available for the retiree. See other sections of this guide for details about the University of Florida Cultural Plaza-Performing Arts Center, Harn Museum, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Hippodrome Theatre, the Gainesville Community Playhouse and many others. World-class sports can be viewed at the University of Florida, where our beloved Gators are perennial national powers, not only in football and basketball but also in baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and even lacrosse!
The interested retiree can continue his or her education at the University of Florida or at Santa Fe College. We have an excellent series of libraries where one can subscribe to e-books or “old dinosaurs” like me can borrow “real books.” And the semi-annual Friends of the Library (FOL) sales attract thousands of excited customers while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our libraries. Of course, retirees can volunteer to work for the FOL and for innumerable other organizations and charities. For instance, my wife and I both volunteer at Haven Hospice; she is a patient-care volunteer and I teach volunteer classes. One can also serve on many diverse, intellectually challenging boards and committees. There are a plethora of very active community service organizations.
And, for the retiree who chooses to live in a retirement center, there is Oak Hammock, The Village, The Atrium and others. There is also a new retirement center called Senior Recreation Center on NW 34th Street. They have a variety of exercise classes and other activities for seniors. There are active medical societies, bar associations and other professional organizations that welcome retired professionals.
Of course, I have only scratched the surface of what it means to be a retiree in this area.
So, welcome to Gainesville — a special place to live and work and a great place to retire!
– Scott Medley, M.D.
The Village at Gainesville
Better living, by design. That’s our retirement philosophy.
At The Village at Gainesville, we’ve created a retirement lifestyle with you in mind – one that offers a superb living experience and a thoughtful combination of maintenance-free living and services, conveniences and amenities that complement an already engaging retirement environment. We regularly solicit resident input that helps us continually evolve our senior living community.
The Village properties are tucked away on spacious North Florida acreage. The natural beauty of the small ponds, tall pines and native live oaks were carefully preserved in the development of the land. In addition, the location of our campus is ideal, only 10 minutes from major shopping malls, theaters and restaurants. Located in the same city as the University of Florida, residents of The Village benefit from recreational activities, cultural events and more while still enjoying a historically rich, relaxing community.
“Better living, by design” captures our commitment to innovative senior living. Our goal is to create an environment that helps improve the life of every resident, every day. To do that requires implementing smart, innovative thinking all over our campus. From our partnership with Santa Fe College to encourage lifelong learning to our Vitality Program that focuses on helping residents live healthier and more independently for longer, you’ll find examples of “Better living, by design” all over our campus.
Our Vitality Program gives you the tools and resources to improve and enhance your overall health, independence and quality of life. If you need assisted living or memory support at some point, you don’t have to move elsewhere to receive superb care. Our relationship with North Florida Regional Medical Center led to the opening of the Senior Healthcare Center at The Village, the only center of its kind on a retirement community campus. The center serves as the hub for all support services offered, including daily check-ins to ensure safety, an emergency response system, 24-hour on-call emergency medical support, private-duty home care and rehabilitation programs with licensed therapists.
Taking the healthier, happier, longer approach is more than the right thing to do. It’s what we all want for ourselves, and for the people we love. That’s what we mean when we say, “Better living, by design.”
To schedule a visit, please call 1-800-654-2996 or visit us online at thevillageonline.com.
Oak Hammock at the University of Florida
The residents at Oak Hammock take academic classes, workout in a 20,000-square-ft. gym and are active volunteers in the Gainesville community. No, they’re not college students — the residents are primarily seniors whose ages range from 60 to 90, according to Jeff Hagen, Oak Hammock’s CEO.
“We’d like Gainesville to know about this jewel of a community, tucked away in the woods,” Hagen said. Oak Hammock began when University of Florida alumni and faculty members proposed an idea to bring other alumni back to Gainesville and encourage retirees to stay in the community, added Hagen.
Oak Hammock, located in Southwest Gainesville, has 269 independent living residences that include 212 apartments and 57 villas and club homes on 136 beautiful acres. Although UF alumni made up many of the initial residents, an affiliation with the university is not required for prospective residents to live there.
The community challenges traditional notions of retirement with extensive learning and physical fitness opportunities. Included in their monthly fee, residents can enjoy expanding their education through the Institute for Learning in Retirement. The ILR offers a diverse range of courses taught on-site, on a variety of wide-ranging subjects, such as Shakespeare, current events or medical issues.
“We all want to keep learning, even as we get older,” said Katherine Osman, the director of community services. The facility also provides transportation to residents who wish to expand their academic scope beyond the classes taught on-site. This semester, one resident is taking advanced German literature at UF, according to Osman. “These are people with a history of wanting to learn and wanting to stay mentally involved and interested,” she said.
Oak Hammock also provides transportation to residents who may wish to go to Gator games, the performing arts center or any spot downtown, so they do not have to worry about parking.
In addition to an art studio and active gallery, residents can channel their creative abilities into other forms of expression, such as the stained glass studio or the on-site woodworking shop.
The 20,000-square-foot gym boasts state-of-the-art equipment, a studio, a 50-foot aerobic pool and a 75-foot lap pool. Tai chi, water aerobics, Pilates and total body workout classes make up just a sliver of the classes residents can take to stay in shape.
While a diverse workout regimen and well-rounded education keep residents engaged mentally and physically, interest groups help the residents foster relationships with one another — Oak Hammock offers more than 40 different clubs to appeal to all interests. Residents can join a travel club, genealogy club or book club to socialize and stay engaged.
The comradery, social opportunities and active lifestyle attract new residents to the Oak Hammock community. As residents age, they are guaranteed additional care, should they need it. This way, residents do not have to worry about leaving their Oak Hammock family or finding health care elsewhere.
“We offer what’s called a Life Care Contract, where we promise them should they need a higher level of care as they age, that it will be provided for them,” Hagen said. “We provide a peace-of- mind level of care for our members.” Thanks to a recent expansion on the skilled nursing and assisted living units completed in July 2016, these physical therapy and rehabilitation services are available to the public. The University of Florida provides the health care services at Oak Hammock through UF Health Shands.
To schedule a visit or find out more information, call 352-548-1024 or visit oakhammock.org.
65 or Older Population in Alachua County
65 or Older Population: 13.4%
Remaining Population: 86.6%
There are nine municipalities of Alachua County and all have a decent percentage of their population age 65 or older. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2015, 14.9 percent of the population of the City of Alachua was in this age range, 13.6 percent of the City of Archer, 8.9 percent of the City of Gainesville, 11.9 percent of the City of Hawthorne, 12.3 percent of the City of High Springs, 18.4 percent of the Town of La Crosse, 21.9 percent of the Town of Micanopy, 10.4 percent of the City of Newberry and 12.4 of the City of Waldo. Looking at these numbers, there is quite a large percentage of people in the 65 or older age group living in Alachua County as a whole. In fact, as of 2016, 13.4 percent of Alachua County’s population was in this particular age range.
65 or Older Population: 12.3%
Remaining Population: 87.7%
65 or Older Population: 11.9%
Remaining Population: 88.1%
65 or Older Population: 8.9%
Remaining Population: 91.1%
65 or Older Population: 21.9%
Remaining Population: 78.1%
65 or Older Population: 12.4%
Remaining Population: 87.6%
65 or Older Population: 13.6%
Remaining Population: 86.4%
65 or Older Population: 18.4%
Remaining Population: 81.6%
65 or Older Population: 10.4%
Remaining Population: 89.6%
Senior Living in Greater Gainesville
Gainesville has a variety of places for seniors to retire and even more recreational opportunities for retired seniors. As of July 2016, about 13.4 percent of the population in Alachua County were 65 or older, according to the United States Census Bureau. That’s over 35,000 people!
With the large number of seniors living in Gainesville and Alachua County and an aging population, there are over 65 senior living centers in Gainesville. Some of the most prominent living centers are Oak Hammock at UF, The Village and The Atrium at Gainesville. The Atrium provides many amenities, such as a heated lanai pool, chef-prepared meals and a variety of activities to enrich the social lives of the retiree, according to their website.
One of the newest and largest senior living centers in Greater Gainesville is The Windsor of Gainesville. The Windsor is not only an assisted living center, but also a memory care residence for those who might need extra services. The Windsor built their foundation on specific fundamental concepts that they believe are essential to each resident, according to Legend Senior Living’s website. Some of these concepts include: supporting the needs of family and friends, providing a supportive residential environment, giving each individual choices in their care, services and lifestyle, fostering residents’ independence and more. The Windsor also provides opportunities for new hobbies, cultural events, education, religion and trips. The Windsor of Gainesville is currently under construction.
Another senior center that is relatively new is the Senior Recreation Center, located on NW 34th Boulevard. This senior center is a part of UF Health and has partnerships with the City of Gainesville and ElderCare of Alachua County. This center is not a living center, but a recreation and activity center where the staff coordinates programs for the seniors. This center serves as an example of a multi-service senior center, as they offer a variety of opportunities that meet the needs of all categories — from the youngest baby boomers to the oldest seniors and their caregivers. ElderCare of Alachua County runs the day-to-day operations of the center, and recreation opportunities include health education, physical fitness activities, nutritional services, preventative screenings, arts and cultural activities, social and volunteer opportunities and more.
ElderCare of Alachua County, also a part of UF Health, is a 100 percent grant- and donation-funded agency in Gainesville, according to UF Health’s website. The mission of this agency is to “advocate for the elderly and provide services that will build capacity, maximize independence, and enrich the quality of life for the seniors in Alachua County and North Central Florida.” The grants and donations given to ElderCare help provide meals at six sites in the county and home-delivered meals to seniors who are homebound. ElderCare also provides services such as Al’z Place, a daycare for Alzheimer’s patients.
The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department offers a wide range of programs for seniors throughout the city. These city-sponsored events promote good health for older adults. One example is the Active Senior Day Program, which occurs every weekday from 8:30 a.m. until noon and offers a variety of activities including arts and crafts, movies, board games, bingo, guest speakers, exercise and more. ElderCare of Alachua County even provides free lunch to those who attend. There is also a club called the Tree Town Bridge Club, which meets on the first and third Friday of each month at the Albert “Ray” Massey Recreation Center. The bridge activities are free and open to the public.
The options for seniors that Gainesville provides are too numerous to list, but they range from special-focused living facilities to art and sports programs for seniors. A friendly community full of trees, parks, dining and arts, Greater Gainesville offers a peaceful haven to engage any kind of senior lifestyle.