Brandon Oaks 6

A Perfect Place to Live

The perfectly appointed lobby offers a piano just waiting to be played, a cozy fire in the fireplace and a view out the large windows to rocking chairs and flowers in the distance. An upscale hotel? No, it’s Brandon Oaks!

The 24-year-old life-plan community in Roanoke City is tearing down stereotypes about so-called retirement communities. The life plan, explains Carter Hanna, director of sales and marketing, allows residents to move into one of the many types of independent living facilities, then—if or when necessary—move to assisted living or skilled care while the monthly fee stays the same.

“It helps residents plan their assets,” Hanna says.

Residential options range from studio apartments to 3,600-square-foot patio homes. Pine Ridge, a condo-style housing choice, recently opened.

“There are accommodations for everyone,” Hanna says, adding some come with garages, carports or underground parking.

Brandon Oaks is open to residents age 62 and older. When residents move in, they can customize their homes with colors and fixtures.

“They are coming in younger and younger,” Hanna says, noting many of the younger residents may remember an experience with their parents and want to make sure their retirement is worry-free.

Brandon Oaks also is seeing more couples moving in and, thanks in part to the resident referral program, groups of friends from the same church or neighborhood.

Brandon Oaks has approximately 280 residents, 230 of whom are in independent living. Currently, the independent living residents range in age from 63 to 101, Hanna says. Four current residents moved in when the facility opened 24 years ago, three of whom are in independent living.

“That speaks volumes about our care,” she says.

Several residents still work, and many stay involved in the community.

The process of becoming a Brandon Oaks resident begins in the “Discovery Room,” Hanna explains. There, she and the potential resident discuss “their journey and their life plan.” They spend about two hours figuring out the right fit. Hanna says she encourages research. There’s a 90-day window, during which there will be a financial and medical evaluation “to protect everyone.”

Hanna says some people may choose to join the Oaks Club, which is basically a waiting list. A $1,500 deposit allows a potential resident to come in for a meal once a month and participate in activities. It also lets them wait for the exact housing they want or to set a move-in date.

“We’re basically in the hospitality industry,” Hanna says, referring to the meals, amenities and resident care the staff provides.

Activities include yoga, tai chi, bridge, bocce ball and choir. Residents can use the exercise facilities, an indoor pool and a library that has a lending agreement with the Roanoke City Library. There are parties for every holiday, a monthly education series, an Elder Scholar program with Roanoke College and overnight trips.

Residents have access on-site to a beauty and barbershop, bank and masseuse. On the medical side, Brandon Oaks employs nurses—registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants—and speech, occupational and physical therapists.

While independent living housing units come with kitchens and washer/dryers, Brandon Oaks offers several dining options. A grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturday as well as grab and go meals. One meal a day is included in the monthly service fee. The main dining room serves lunch and dinner either from the buffet or off the menu.

“We’re a cruise ship that never leaves port,” Hanna says.