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Brookdale Mill Creek: a resort-like lifestyle

Apr 20, 2017
Residents at Brookdale Mill Creek prepare to board their bus for a field trip. Brookdale is “like a resort” to many residents who take advantage of the numerous field trips and other recreational choices offered there.

Russ Hupe doesn’t miss the yard work, maintenance and other chores that come with home ownership. The former biologist with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and his wife lived in Olympia for 64 years.

Like other homeowners, he worked all week, then spent many of his weekends working around their three-bedroom house. Retirement spared him from the weekly career grind, but the housework continued.

So when their daughter urged them to move closer to her in Brier, they were ready. “She really wanted us closer,” Hupe said. “And I realized it was time. There was a lot to do around the house, and we just couldn’t keep up.”

Their daughter did some legwork for them on choosing a new home, and when they toured her recommendation, Brookdale Senior Living Solutions in Mill Creek, they were sold.

That was five years ago. Hupe said his wife got them involved almost as soon as they moved in. Now 95 and a widower, he hasn’t slowed down. “I’m not the kind who sits,” he said.

Likewise, Brookdale resident Marian Fowler stays plenty busy. A 10-year resident there, Fowler was used to a life on the move. A widow herself, she had been married to a career U.S. Air Force airman, so they spent much of their life together traveling where his orders took them.

A Ballard native, Fowler, 94, said they settled in a Mercer Island home after 20 years on the move. But after her husband died in 1991 and she bought a condo there, her sons began urging her to move closer to them in Snohomish County.

After all those moves over the years, this one may have been the best.

“I’m independent, but I would have been lonesome down there, even though I had friends,” she said. “I’ve made many good friends here, and at meals I have friends to eat with.”

The meals, both Fowler and Hupe said, are just part of what sets Brookdale apart from other senior housing options.

The dining room is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and it has an unbeatable salad bar. The chef constantly strives to satisfy the residents’ varying tastes, dietary restrictions and other requests – no small feat at a residence that’s home to nearly 200 people.

But it’s all the options going on between meals that excite Hupe and Fowler the most.

Fowler praised the many entertainment options that are offered at Brookdale Mill Creek. There are Village Theatre plays to see in Everett, concerts in Seattle, trips to Paul Allen’s Museum of Flight, Theo’s Chocolate Factory, sightseeing trips and other outings.

Residents who prefer to stay closer to home can enjoy a daily happy hour, a weekly in-house concert, bingo, chess club, billiards, card games and more. “I call it my resort,” Hupe said.

Because Brookdale attracts residents from all over the world, friendships are special. There is even, they admitted with a smile, the occasional romance.

Like all of us, conscientious Brookdale residents want to stay in shape, too, so of course there’s a pool (water aerobics classes are popular) and an exercise room.

Residents don’t need their cars at Brookdale. They have their own bus for trips to the store, doctor and other destinations.

Hupe, whose career included some public relations work, is one of the residents who believes in giving back to his community, too. “I’ve got a strange philosophy,” he said. “I’ve learned things, so I believe I should be sharing that knowledge.”

Consequently, Hupe came up with an idea for residents to assist staff and each other in case of an emergency. He developed a Resident Emergency Service Team, a group of 25 residents who are ready to spring into action in an earthquake or other emergency.

“We’ll go into action and help as best we can,” he said. They’re working on evacuation and earthquake recovery drills, so they’ll be ready should the need arise.

Hupe also is president of the Brookdale citizens council, which acts as a liaison between the residents and management. Their meetings provide an opportunity for residents to meet and discuss issues with Brookdale’s executive director.

Fortunately for Hupe, Fowler and the other residents at Brookdale, there are no more headaches dealing with homeownership; who has time?

“I like the fact that I have no maintenance of the house or yardwork anymore,” Hupe said. “I still do some gardening, though. But I like that I don’t have to wash dishes anymore, either.”

Both said they enjoy seeing young people at Brookdale, too. High school students doing community volunteer work visit after classesa and weekends. “They’re delightful to have around,” Fowler said.

Hupe said he compared the costs of home ownership versus senior housing, and was pleased with the results.

“We get plenty for what we pay,” he said. “To me, it’s an ideal place.”

Fowler agreed. “The rent is quite favorable here,” she said.

Hupe and Fowler said anyone curious about taking that step to senior living should investigate Brookdale.

“I would recommend it to anybody if they’re interested,” Hupe said. “This one is top of the line.”

He has one suggestion: “I’d hope people would move in earlier in their lifespan,” Hupe said. “They’re spending all their time and effort to keep alive and not enjoying their life.”

Want to learn more? Call Brookdale Mill Creek for a tour. It’s at 14905 Bothell-Everett Hwy, Mill Creek, WA 98012; 425-338-1580.

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