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Maintenance free senior living – maintenance free retirement communities

If you own a home, retirement doesn’t mean you stop working. You just stop going to a workplace. If you want to enjoy the freedom of maintenance-free senior living, think about making the move to a retirement community. If you do it right, you’ll not only regain your weekends, but you’ll also avoid the headache and hassle of unexpected repair bills.

Is it truly maintenance free living?

Although most retirement communities advertise themselves as “maintenance free,” they are not all alike. When it comes to maintenance, you’ll find a big difference between 55-plus living and a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). At a 55-plus community, maintenance is usually limited to some exterior services like snow removal. On the other hand, most CCRCs offer both exterior and interior maintenance. Their grounds crews provide lawn care and landscaping, snow removal and concrete/sidewalk repairs. Even roofing/skylight repairs are the community’s responsibility. They also provide an extensive range of indoor maintenance and repairs of heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and appliances.

“The people who live here have worked hard all their lives, and I enjoy making their lives easier for them,” says Daryl Hertsenberg, director of facilities and construction for Simpson at Jenner’s Pond, a CCRC located in southern West Grove, Pa. Hertsenberg oversees maintenance of the physical plant—buildings, grounds and infrastructure—for the entire campus. He also manages any construction necessary to customize cottages and apartments for residents. He has a staff of nine, including directors of both facilities and grounds, a heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) technician; a refurbishment technician, and four general maintenance techs who maintain and repair plumbing, appliances and more; and an office manager who serves as the main point of contact for residents.

From move-in to ongoing maintenance

When residents move into a CCRC, they usually have the opportunity to customize their cottage or apartment. During the move-in process at Jenner’s Pond, incoming residents can select flooring, lighting, cabinets and hardware, plumbing fixtures and more. They can make more extensive changes as well. Hertsenberg works with residents and the community’s move-in coordinator, coordinates trusted vendors, and oversees the project to completion. Typically, renovations take about 45 days before the home is move-in ready.

Hertsenberg’s team maintains all facilities and grounds on campus. As part of that, they inspect the community’s communication and safety systems, including the nurse call system for each residence and the fire alarms and sprinklers. The team also makes sure the campus always looks its best and handles work orders from residents.

Maintenance services are included

CCRCs include a comprehensive range of services in their monthly fee. Jenner’s Pond residents can call Hertsenberg’s team if they need the paint touched up on a wall or a new bulb in an integrated light fixture. The team will hang TVs and repair dishwashers and other appliances, repair floors and clean carpets. And, yes, they do windows! Best of all, there’s no need to budget for these issues—they come at no additional cost.

“All residents have to do if they need something is to call the maintenance office and request a work order,” Hertsenberg says. “We can address most routine issues within three to five days. Of course, we give urgent matters priority and usually complete them in a day.”

Outside the home, the team takes care of all landscaping, including weeding and mulching and trimming shrubbery. They will repair cottage roofs and fix skylights. They’ll repair sidewalks and, in the winter, remove snow from them. Services like snow removal happen as needed.

“Residents don’t have to worry about finding someone to do it or get on a schedule,” he adds. “It’s one less stressor to deal with.”

Maintenance free independent living for seniors


Extras are available

The monthly fee covers most routine issues. Residents who want “extras” can usually have them for an additional fee. For example, sometimes residents who have lived in a cottage or apartment for a while decide that they want to upgrade appliances, or they might want to change the paint color or extend the patio. For those types of projects, Hertsenberg works with the residents to outline project scope and reviews vendor proposals to determine costs.

Regardless of whether the team performs one of the many services included in the monthly fee or an “add-on” project, residents receive a comment card so they can provide feedback on the work. Hertesenberg’s team receives virtually no complaints.

“People seem to like the maintenance-free lifestyle here at Jenner’s Pond,” he says. “The residents are greatly appreciative.”

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