Springfield, Ohio…There’s No Place like HOME for Seniors

At the turn of the 20th century when the Masons, the Knights of Pythias and the Odd Fellows lodges built retirement homes in Springfield, the city earned the moniker, “The Home City.” A century later, seniors are still drawn to the city, but nowadays, it’s for more than this reputation alone. Nowadays, they come to Springfield because it can enrich their lives on just about every level!

Options are the spice of life
It’s impossible to pigeonhole today’s seniors. Some want a slower pace of life, while others are looking for the activity found in a metropolitan area. Springfield offers the best of both worlds. This metro area, nestled between Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, “has a small-town feel even though it is a bigger community,” says president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Mike McDorman.

First of all, there’s no traffic. Rush hour lasts about 25 minutes. At most, you might have to sit through a stoplight once. Springfield’s cost of living is also small-town-sized. In fact, last year, the National Association of Home Builders ranked the city second among the most affordable housing markets in the country. But while the city might have that comfortable, down-home feel, there are also many benefits that come with its larger size. For seniors with a taste for culture, both the Clark State Performing Arts Center and the Springfield Museum of Art serve up a diverse menu of things to see and do. Plus, for six weeks during the summer, the Springfield Summer Arts Festival captivates area residents with everything from plays to Chinese acrobats. History buffs will enjoy whiling away the hours at the Heritage Center, one of the world’s leading county artifacts museums. Not to mention, Springfield is home to the Westcott House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Prairie Style house in Ohio, which welcomes about 15,000 visitors from outside the community every year.

Springfield also has its share of outdoor activities for seniors who prefer a little fresh air with their fun. There are 10 challenging 18-hole golf courses, plus more than 1,400 acres of public parks for strolling, fishing and picnicking. And currently, a 6 ½-mile whitewater experience is being developed on Buck Creek, extending from the city’s 22-acre, manmade reservoir to Buck Creek State Park. For those who enjoy a good hike, Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve is just minutes away. And don’t forget your bike because Springfield was featured in 2008 as one of the “8 Havens With Great Cycling Trails” by Where to Retire magazine. But this city hasn’t forgotten its agricultural roots. One of the most popular attractions in the Miami Valley area still happens to be Young’s Jersey Dairy. At this working dairy farm, not only can you pet the cows, calves and goats but you can also play a round of miniature golf, hit a few balls in the batting cages or enjoy a cone at the ice cream parlor.


Care when you need it
Despite their current activity level, most seniors are realistic and know that eventually they may need a little help. That’s why the full continuum of care available in Springfield is so appealing to them. To complement its existing comprehensive health care offering, the city recently opened a new surgical hospital, Ohio Valley Medical Center, which includes ear, nose and throat, general surgery, gastroenterology, gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry and urology physician specialties. But that’s hardly the only improvement on Springfield’s healthcare horizon. “Our community is going through a renaissance of sorts right now with the construction of a $250 million, state-of-the-art regional health care hospital downtown,” says McDorman. To replace the original two campuses of Springfield Regional Medical Center, the new 475,000-square-foot, downtown campus, slated to open in January 2012, will include 254 private rooms, an expanded emergency center and a women’s health pavilion. When seniors have to make a trip to the hospital, they often need rehabilitation or follow-up care upon returning home. Springfield’s home health care providers can help bridge the gap between hospital and home. “Our goal is to prevent them [seniors] from going back into the hospital,” explains Amy Lord, director of operations for Community Mercy Home Care, which provides skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as home health aides and social workers to area seniors. Community Mercy Home Care is also licensed as a pharmacy with a nutritional team – a physician, dietician, nurse and pharmacist – on staff.

A great deal of medical care can be provided in the home nowadays, allowing seniors to remain where they’re most comfortable. But Lord adds, “We are looking at providing safe, quality care. And when that safety piece becomes an issue, we are obligated to try and come up with a solution for the senior.” Springfield’s Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) can be just such a solution. Residents can “move through the levels of care as the need arises,” says Jamie Houseman, administrator of Oakwood Village, which offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing.

“The beauty is that when you make that commitment – wherever you need to go – you can stay within the walls of this building and we can help you.” Catholic Healthcare Partners, Oakwood Village’s parent company, also owns Mercy St. John’s Center, a skilled nursing and adult daycare facility, which provides short-term, rehabilitation-focused care. In January, Mercy St. John’s Center received a five-star quality rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


Finding the right fit
When choosing a retirement community, many Springfield CCRCs find that seniors are not only looking for the best health care but also for shared values and commonality among their fellow residents and staff. While the Springfield Masonic Community, one of the original three “homes” in the “Home City,” now accepts both Mason and non-Masons, “To live here, you have to live by the Masonic values,” explains marketing director Nita Wilkinson. “And I think people like knowing the values that we hold dear to our hearts are the way that they want to live.” The Springfield Masonic Community offers independent living, short-term rehabilitation, assisted living, skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s care. The Ohio Masonic Home, the community’s parent company, also operates Masonic Helping Hands, a companion service; Cornerstone Home Health & Hospice and the I-Care Program, which coordinates services to allow seniors to remain in their homes (for Masons only). Likewise for faith-based Oakwood Village and Mercy St. John’s Center. “We have residents and associates who appreciate that we’re mission-oriented and faith-driven,” notes Houseman. “It has a different feel to our residents who come through the doors.”

Not only are shared values important to seniors but also shared interests. From the “lunch and learn” programs at the Springfield Masonic Home to Zumba® classes and intergenerational programming at Oakwood Village, Springfield CCRCs offer many avenues for seniors to find common ground and foster fast friendships. Elderly United provides similar benefits. Offering a variety of educational, recreational and wellness programs, this organization promotes the general well-being, independence and socialization of Clark County senior citizens through activities such as art classes, bingo, exercise classes, entertainment programs, educational seminars, day trips and extended tours.

Springfield’s quality of life and variety of opportunities attract seniors to the Home City, but it’s the bonds that they forge in this city – and for this city – that make them call it home!

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