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New patio home community offers seniors independence Wheatfield complex features a host of amenities

Elderwood Crestwood Commons is a community with a concept.

Located on a 12-acre parcel at 2600 Niagara Falls Blvd. near Witmer Road, the patio home and apartment development has been designed for senior citizens who want to continue independence.

Michele A. LaDouceur, senior director of independent living operations, said, "We're not selling real estate here. We're selling you a lifestyle -- one of independence."

That independence is from home maintenance and repairs such as cutting the lawn and shoveling snow. The complex offers housekeeping and linen service, campus security, transportation to the supermarket and church, and even breakfast. Both the patio and apartment settings provide a daily continental breakfast and beverage service.

Apartment dwellers get dinner every day. Plants will be watered while the tenants are away.

Many other services, such as an attached garage, medication reminders, transportation to medical appointments, prescription delivery, meal packages, wake-up calls, personal laundry, hair salon services, personal response monitoring and catering are available for an additional fee.

Other amenities such as an exercise facility, pharmacy, stocked pond, cafe, formal dining area and library are available for residents and a large community center is under construction.

The profile of the typical resident is someone 55 to 77 years old who is "a healthy, active senior who wants to downsize their lifestyle and enjoy life," LaDouceur said. Reducing the responsibility of property fosters energy for clubs and organizations such as poker and current events groups, she noted.

"It adds 10 years on your life, it's so stress-free," she said. "You don't have to worry about the water heater breaking at two in the morning."

To escape the commitments of home ownership, Crestwood residents sign a rental agreement but no lease. Fees are charged on a monthly basis so a resident can move out without penalty with 30 days' notice.

"All units come fully applianced with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher," she said. Washers and dryers are in every patio home while every six apartments have to share a pair. Each unit has air conditioning, and utility costs are based on use.

In addition, pets are welcome, she noted.

"I love the idea I rent and don't have to buy," said Marie Stenzel, who became the first Crestwood Commons resident this week.

She moved from Monroe Township, N.J., to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law who live in Buffalo. Her home in a senior community in New Jersey was too big for her.

She said she was attracted to the intimacy of her new community and "just loves" the patio.

She is one of 47 residents who have put down deposits at Crestwood, which has 50 apartments and 48 patio homes. With the first phase of the homes now open and the second phase targeted for November, only a handful are still not rented, LaDouceur said.

The ribbon-cutting for the apartments is scheduled for June and the community center should be available July 1.

To address the health needs of the seniors, Elderwood Health Care is located on the other side of the development. Residents may eventually require assisted living, sub-acute care, rehabilitation or skilled nursing, she said. All Crestwood residents will receive priority status for admission.

"The whole idea is to provide a continuum of care in one setting," LaDouceur said.


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