HOUGHTON - Merle Audette says she fell in love with The Bluffs Senior Community from the moment she moved in.
"It's going on three years now that I've been living here and I've been very happy," she replied from her glider rocking chair situated beside the brick fireplace in the third-floor ballroom Thursday morning. "I feel very safe here. It's the best place to be."
Nestled atop a hill overlooking Houghton and Hancock, the Bluffs has been providing relaxed senior living since fall of 2000. Offering all the comforts of home, independence and security in a warm and friendly environment, families will find peace of mind knowing their loved ones are in the hands of a highly skilled staff dedicated to the health and well being of the community.
The Bluffs Senior Community in Houghton is shown during the summer in this provided photo. Lush gardens accent the outdoor gazebo outside the facility which overlooks Houghton and Hancock.
"Here, the residents feel right at home. It's a comfortable environment. The staff is friendly and they can come and go as they please. Worry-free living is what I like to call it," executive director Jessica Teddy said. "At the same time, there's the safety and security from the staff. We're always looking out for the residents and encouraging them to participate in our many activities."
The Bluffs has a separate, in-house health care agency called Higher Health, which is available to provide assistance to residents with activities of daily life such as bathing, grooming, medication assistance, among other needs.
"We have a nurse on site with them as well," Teddy said. "We have a lot of independent residents that are living here and we also have some that do need assistance on a regular basis."
Providing residents the assistance with their ADLs prevents them from having to go to a skilled medical facility if they don't need to, Teddy added.
"Higher Health keeps them as independent as possible," she said. "That's been a great addition to the Bluffs."
One of the main advantages associated with assisted living is that the living environment is less restrictive than a skilled medical facility.
"Residents can still maintain their independence and come and go as they please. A lot of the residents still have their own cars," Teddy said. "They can have guests come over anytime they'd like. Guests can bring in pets or the residents can have their own. We really want it to feel like home."
Staff is on duty 24 hours a day for the residents' safety and well being. Each resident wears a pendant that they can press anytime in case of an emergency.
"All families, whether they live in our out of town, can have peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safe and secure. Someone is always watching out for them," she said. "We also check on the residents three times each day to ensure they are doing well."
The Bluffs provides a wide variety of social, recreational, spiritual and educational activities throughout the week, which residents are encouraged to participate in whatever their interests may be.
"Our activities director, Sarah Rilei, is planning activities 40 hours a week," Teddy said. "She puts together activities the residents enjoy and is encouraging everybody to come out."
Activities include exercise classes, ranging from gentle movement to senior yoga, computer classes, a weekly reader with Joe Kirkish, themed parties, shopping outings and bingo, just to name a few. Every Friday they mark Happy Hour with live entertainment, beverages and snacks.
Prayer services in different denominations are also provided at the Bluffs.
They even play video games.
"We do Wii bowling and Wii golf," Teddy said. "They love it. It definitely helps with their motor skills and balance. They're pretty competitive too, many of them score better than I do!"
Teddy said the city of Houghton has been wonderful in providing transportation for their regular outings. Their most recent was a tour of the Winter Carnival snow statues.
Additional accommodations include an in-house salon, library, hobby room, sauna and financial services provided weekly by River Valley Bank.
Currently, there are four apartments available at the Bluffs. They also offer independent living condos.
"If anyone is considering moving into an assisted living facility, come in for a tour, ask questions, get a feel for what it is like to see if it meets your needs," Teddy said. "Take a look at the residents. Are they happy? Are they socializing? Try the food. See if it's appetizing and nutritious. Try the activities. Find out if it's going to be something that works for you."
Additionally, Teddy recommends families inquire about the costs.
Presently, the Bluffs is a private-pay senior community.
"A lot of times when people hear about the Bluffs the perception is that it's too expensive. But, when you add up the cost of living at home between your mortgage payment, home owner's insurance, property taxes, utilities, maintenance repairs, whatever it may be, that actually adds up to being more than it does to live here," she said, noting the average cost of assisted living ranges from $2,100 to $3,000 per month. "When you figure you get the whole package and everything taken care of for you, it's worth it."
Ninety-two-year-old Audrey Hunter, who has been a resident of the Bluffs for almost one year, said she couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
"They take very good care of us and they keep us busy," she said. "I go to all the exercises. Since I moved in in May, I've been able to walk better."
Hunter added this is the first year in 30 years that she is spending the winter in the Upper Peninsula. She usually heads south when the snow starts to fly.
"I'm not missing Florida one bit," she said. "I enjoy Happy Hour and the church services. Every day my calendar is full."
Audette, who prior to the Bluffs was living at her home in Silver City in Ontonagon County for 57 years, said it was an easy transition thanks to the warm, caring staff at the Bluffs.
"The people here are so nice. They just can't do enough for you," she said. "We're so lucky to have a place like this. You don't have to worry about a thing."
Catered events are welcome at the Bluffs. Bridal and baby showers, community group meetings, monthly meetings and weddings can be accommodated.
In December of 2007, the Bluffs Senior Community was purchased by new owners, Arcadia Communities out of Louisville, Ky.
"Arcadia Communities will also be managing a new facility that Moyle Construction is remodeling in Menominee," Teddy said. "It's an older hospital they're restoring into an assisted living facility. It is going to be absolutely beautiful. So, now we're going to have a new sister company."
The Bluffs Senior Community is located at 1000 Bluff View Drive in Houghton.
For more information, call 483-4400 or visit www.thebluffs.org.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by The Bluffs Senior Community of Houghton. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.