Apartments & Housing Communities for Seniors

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi BPN, hope you can help me brainstorm places to live my close family friend could check out.  She lived in the Berkeley area for many years, currently lives in the PNW, and is considering a move back now that it looks like the next generation is settled here.  She is 70, single, active and community-minded (loves bringing people together).  She enjoys spending time with young people so is hesitant to live in a seniors-only place like Rossmoor, but also realizes there are many pros to that too (like the social groups she could join (or start), easier to make friends, etc).  She is ideally looking for an affordable two-bedroom condo but open to renting as well.  Ideal location would be relatively close to Oakland and BART w/ the option to have a car.  I remember reading here (I think) about a certain complex/development in Alameda but I can't for the life of me find it now, and I am not familiar with Alameda myself although it seems great!  I also thought of Marina Bay in Richmond but it doesn't seem very public-transit friendly so I worry that it wouldn't be comfortable to leave there when she is older and driving is harder (but correct me if I am wrong!).  Any and all ideas / info would be much appreciated.  Thank you!

    Or if there are other places like Rossmoor that you recommend, we'd would be interested in hearing about that too.  

    I would look into Baywood Court in Castro Valley and see if it’s a fit. I don’t have any direct experience with the independent living, but my mom has been in the health center there and we’ve been very happy with that. The independent living apartments look lovely!

    What about Watergate in Emeryville? Few years ago I checked few condos there and was surprised to see that they had different clubs,gyms, pools and organizations and also have the public bus that takes you to Bart, etc. Nice walks around and so close to everything...

    When my parents (now in their 80’s) relocated from NY to be closer to my family 5 years ago, they discovered a little hidden gem in Benicia, 30 minutes northeast of Berkeley.  They bought and renovated a 1400 s.f. mobile home in a 55+community called Rancho Benicia. Before you react, go see it.  It’s pristine, well-kept, very safe, and gated (open daytime, locked at night). Walking distance to First Street, with shopping, restaurants, and scenic waterfront.  Homes are priced in the $100,000’s-$300,000’s, with a monthly rental fee for the “space”.  Buyers must go through a qualification process with the park, in order to purchase.  This is a great community, and my active parents absolutely loved living there.  

    She might look into Strawberry Creek Lodge! I’m not sure what availability is like at the moment, but it’s a big independent senior (62+) living complex in Central Berkeley. The location makes it very conducive for active seniors—it’s walkable to tons of bus lines, parks, BART, there’s a Target nearby for essentials, etc. We live in the neighborhood, so we’ve met many of the residents there as they take their daily walks around the neighborhood, and pretty much everyone is friendly and delightfully quirky.

  • Hi there!

    I'd greatly appreciate recommendations for well-priced townhome or condo communities for my parents. For background, I'd like to move my parents to the Bay Area from the east coast, so they're closer to us given their declining health. We're not yet ready for a senior community but they do need a community of sorts. Ideally, we'd like a community located in a safe area with convenient proximity to shops and restaurants. Modern amenities would be a plus. Given our price range, Oakland and Berkeley do not seem possible. Therefore, we've started looking into Walnut Creek and even Fremont given the availability of condo communities, but we're not tied to these locations. However, it would need to be accessible from where we live in Oakland. 

    Thanks in advance!


    My in-laws just bought a condo on the south tip of Point Richmond to be closer to us. Seems to be the place to buy for that generation. The realtor said there are lots of young seniors in the complex, which we also saw with our own eyes. The price is "cheap," but the HOA is high in my opinion. A lot of the complexes around there and Marina Bay have nice amenities like pools & tennis courts. And there are some nice shops and restaurants nearby. Kaiser Richmond is also pretty close. However, the nearest safeway is about a 15 min drive. To me the complex and the surrounding areas felt very safe, almost secluded from the hustle & bustle of the I-80/580 corridor.

    Rosmoore-Walnut Creek or maybe Watergate in Emeryville?

     I will also think that Marina Bay in Richmond is a nice area.

    Actually seniors communities can start at 55 years old :)

    Before you say no, go look at Rancho Benicia in Benicia.  My parents moved there about 5 years ago when they relocated from western NY.  It's a gated community for 55+, of mobile homes. (Gasp!)  Most are double-wide, and many have been updated.  We bought my parents' unit for about $125,000, and HOA fees are about $900/month.  Property taxes are minimal, because they're paid to the DMV.  After I put in new flooring & paint, & updated the kitchen, with new cabinets and appliances, and built a woodworking shop for my dad, it's now worth $230,000+.  The community is tight-knit, and very clean and well-kept.  It's a sweet little community, with a lovely salt-water pool, fitness room & community center, with hot tub, and shuffleboard.  It's 2 blocks from downtown Benicia, and 35 minutes from Berkeley, a well-kept secret.  

    I would consider looking at the condos at Marina Village in Alameda. It's not a seniors only community but there are many seniors living there and it's within walking and short driving distance to grocery stores and there's a community pool. It's of course quite close to Oakland. My parents have lived there for several years now and it's lovely and they're very happy with the community they've found there upon moving to the Bay Area. Kind people who spend time together and look out for one another. Places come up for both sale and rent. I would recommend taking a look.

  • Looking for independent senior housing

    (1 reply)

    Hi all, I am looking for options for independent senior housing for my parents. They don't want or need housing which is assisted or includes meals, which many places seem to offer that I have seen. They would like to be able to access a swimming pool and I think help with transportation would help in the future (busses). The only one I have heard of is Rossmor -- any feedback on that would be welcome. Is there anything like that but closer to Berkeley/Oakland? Also, are there any housing options with russian-speaking communities? That would make them feel more comfortable, too, as their English is not great. Thank you!

    I can't recommend any of these personally, but I have started looking into this topic for my senior parent as well. Deer Creek North in San Ramon looks very nice, as does a complex in Pleasant Hill near JFK U. Rossmoor for sure, lots of options mostly owner-occupied I think, but maybe a few rented-out condos. I have heard there is a decent sized Russian speaking population in central Contra Costa, so maybe Concord/Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill area to start narrowing down your search.

  • Senior Residence experiences/perspectives

    (10 replies)

    My 75year old mother is considering moving into a senior residence in the following areas: El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Rockridge-Piedmont Oakland.

    We have looked at Merrill Gardens, Belmont, St. Paul’s and Piedmont Gardens.

    She needs a 1 bedroom with a private patio (no patio has been a deal breaker).  A residence that has a lot of natural lighting is important.

    Assisted Living & memory care are also needed for the future.  Right now it’s more socialization and not dealing with caring for her own house alone.

    Any recent experiences with Merrill Gardens? Belmont or Piedmont Gardens?  Merrill Gardens hit a lot of her desires, but it seemed a bit dirty and the staff a bit unprofessional -not saying hello/goodbye-or on their phones when we when we toured recently.  Ie. soap dispensers empty, raggedy signs in the common bathrooms, stained carpet, poorly cleaned apartments that were being “shown” as possible units.  Maybe as a watchful adult child I’m being too picky?

    Any other residences you would recommend in the areas listed? Money is not really an issue.  It’s more location and the private patio.

    grateful for your responses and honest opinions!

    I recommend contacting a Geriatric Care Manager.  For the price of their fee for an hour, you would get very current information on the places to consider. Because they regularly visit clients in these facilities, they have a deep understanding of which ones would fit your criteria and would best for your mother. We've worked with Christina Henrikson (510-427-1813 and chcaremgmt [at] for exactly this issue, although we were looking at memory-care facilities not senior residences.  She mentioned that these types of facilities change owners relatively frequently, and that the quality of care can change dramatically when that happens - so beware of recommendations that are not recent. 

    My mother will be moving into St. Paul's Towers this summer, so I've just gone through this search process.  I looked at several of the places you mentioned -- one that's not on your list but worth a look is Lake Park in Oakland.  Like St. Paul's, it's a long-established non-profit with access to all the levels of care she might eventually need.  Every apartment I saw at Lake Park had a balcony, some with views of Lake Merritt.  The whole place looked very clean and well maintained, and it's less expensive than some places I toured.  In the end it came down to St. Paul's or Lake Park and we just had to pick one, but honestly they both seem lovely to me.  Good luck with your search.

    You might want to expand your search area eastward.  That may not work if your mother is intent on staying this side of the hills, which I can completely understand since it was why I did NOT try to move mine from Walnut Creek.  Where the friends & visitors still live is very important.  If you are willing to look that far afield, I recommend checking out the three Atria places:  one is on the Lafayette/Pleasant Hill order; one is out by Rossmoor; and the third is near John Muir WC.  Each have ground floor units with patios, but there could be a wait.  Walnut Creek at least has balconies.  I can't recall whether all the Lafayette places did.  Mom spent time at both Lafayette and WC.  Neither was perfect, but the staff at both were very professional, and the facilities made it easy for Mom to transfer from a 2BR apartment on her own to a 1BR unit with kitchenette.  If you want to chat more, email me either through this site or to my user name as a gmail address.  Good luck.  This is not an easy thing to do -- even when your parent says she's ready.  ATS

    Some senior residences will move the resident to the next level of care, e.g. from independent living to assisted living, from assisted living to nursing care, when the lower level of care space is needed for a new resident. Please read your contract carefully, as the management decision may override the resident's or family's opinion. Anyway, this is what I have heard.

    Hi -  I don't know Merrill Gardens or Belmont at all. Piedmont Gardens and St Paul's towers have  good reputations. Take a look at Chapparal House in Berkeley. They have a lovely outdoor garden. Can't remember if there are individual patios or not. 

    Good luck


    This is probably too far for you, but I wanted to share because we are having such a good experience with Tiffany Court (925) 933-5555 in Walnut Creek. I was very concerned about moving my aunt, but it was the right decision...she is very happy there. She loves the staff...they make all the residents feel special. Also, she has been happy with the food. She requested a few items when she moved in and they added them to their menu. Also, they have rooms with small patios and I feel everything is very clean. The facility is located a few blocks away from Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. If it's not too far for you, I encourage you to visit and talk with some of the residents. 

    You are not being too picky! I moved my dad into Merrill Gardens Rockridge in July 2017. I would not recommend it. The two positive things are the facility. It was brand new when he moved in, and although it is now dirty in places, it still is one of the nicest facilities. Second, he has met a lot of interesting and kind residents there.

    There are a lot more negatives, though. In less than two years MG has had five general managers. The staff turnover at all levels is astounding. The current general manager is named Daniel, and he is experienced and kind. The prior manager was Linda. She also was experienced and kind. Daniel, like the ones before him, won't last long. He will realize that he needs more staff and money to make it run properly, but upper management won't agree to spend the money. The headquarters are in Seattle, and Merrill Gardens is privately owned. The top people only care about the bottom line (making money), and I am guessing that is why the staff turns over so frequently. The caregivers are paid minimum wage, their hours are constantly being changed and/or cut to reduce costs. Their jobs are high stress for the little amount they are paid. My father has limited mobility and needs help getting in and out of bed, dressing, toilet, etc. Several mornings per month no one shows up at his set time of 7am, especially on the weekends, and so he is stuck in bed until 8:30+ waiting. The response time when he pushes his pendant is inconsistent. There often seems to be a "problem with the pendants," and they often don't seem to "work." I think MG doesn't want to admit they don't have enough staff to respond. Over night they only have one staff person on duty, but they will tell you that they have 2 or 3 staff. It someone has an emergency, there's no one to help others. This has happened several times that I have heard.

    The facility is about two years old, and it is showing signs of wear and tear. They said they are replacing some of the carpets by the elevators. The bathrooms in the common area are filthy. Again, they don't have enough staff and want to cut costs. Overall the quality of food is good, but the dining room can be problematic. They have had several different chefs, and the dining room staff turns over quickly, so the service and experience can vary greatly.    

    I have heard that St. Paul's is great. I did not look at it because residents must start there in Independent Living, and my dad needs Assisted Living. I think finding a place that is not for profit probably makes a big difference. There is a buy-in at St. Paul's, but the service is probably much better, and the staff turnover low. My mother recently moved to a Senior Residence in another state, which is non-profit and has a buy-in. The difference between her place and MG is like night and day. The service is exceptional. The staff have worked there for years and years. I wish I had found a place like that around here for my father. I have thought about moving him elsewhere, but at this point he is too old (almost 93) and frail to move, and MG is very close to me. It is upsetting, though, to see him not getting the care he needs and that he is paying for.

    Good luck!

    Hi, I am a therapist working in home health and frequently visit with patients in the area. For what you have listed, I would definitely say Merrill Gardens is not a good fit based on the current and future needs, especially if a concern with memory. St. Paul’s has some very nice aspects but it is big, I would worry about memory needs down the road but it does have some very nice units, patios, close to the Lake, etc. One of my favorites (though not as fancy but still nice) is Grand Lake Gardens—good folks working there who seem to truly care about the residents. 

    You mentioned money not being a concern, another option might be to look for independent and assisted living options and then to hire a caregiver if/when more assistance and supervision is needed, I’ve seen this work out very well for folks I have worked with when they have the means.

    Have you checked out Water’s Edge in Alameda? 

    I think it is very very hard to find a spot that does a good job in all three areas—I would say focus on independent and assisted living needs and maybe not as much on memory care until you are at that point—it sounds like your Mom is looking to be happy where she is currently in life with her outside patio. :)

    Hi there- I moved my mom here from the East Coast about a year ago.  She's at Grand Lake Gardens in Oakland, the sister facility to Piedmont Gardens.  If your mom can live independently, this is a great option and they offer a lot of social activities, great location, too.  Services can be tiered up, such as paying for medication disbursement on a daily basis, and then she can eventually move to Piedmont Gardens when she needs more memory care and assisted living.   it's a non-profit, which I really like a lot.  Units are updated, and spotless, overall I am very happy with this choice.  Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions.  

    You might want to check out The Waterford at Rossmoor. There are units with balconies/small patios; and good food in the communal dining rooms. There are various unit layout designs at the Waterford. A friend of mine had her parents (at the time 70 & 81) move in after living in one of the “active retirement” units. Making the switch was not so disruptive (they were able to continue with friends made at Rossmoor & clubs - of which there were many). My friend lives in Lafayette, so visiting her parents was a stone’s throw. She was very happy with the Waterford maintenance & care her parents received - they were still ambulatory, just frail and on various medicinal regimens. I visited once and it looked very well kept; her parent’s unit was about 900 sq ft. and consisted of bedroom, living room, bath, small kitchenette and balcony. If you live in Berkeley - it’s about 30 minutes through the Caldicott Tunnel (non-peak hours). This was about 3 years ago; I understand there is a new CEO at Rossmoor. Hope they have continued the quality of the service & facility. Good luck in your search!

  • My mother is in good physical and mental shape but is considering a move to an independent living situation.  We toured a pretty nice place in San Leandro on our own and want to check out some others.  I stumbled onto a website called Seniorly that acts as a way to help search/evaluate various options.  Has anyone used this or perhaps other similar services and can you provide any feedback?  Thanks!

    Hello, how exciting your Mom is taking such proactive options and looking to surround herself with support. I am a home health nurse and wanted to mention Phoenix Commons, I have been so impressed with this wonderful co-housing part of AEC living

    Might be worth a visit and looking into senior co-housing as you mentioned your mom is in good health and I have found the community, amenities, and support to be really inspiring.

    Best of luck to your family!

    We've used Care Quest to find a place for my dad and now for my in-laws. Helen is wonderful, no pressure. And very knowledgeable about available resources. Good luck!

    What you're looking for is a senior placement agency. The way those work is that a placement advisor--kind of like a realtor--talks to you about what you're looking for and then brings you to see about three places that meet your criteria and are within your budget. You don't need to pay them--they're given a fee by the community if you move in there. Services like Seniorly and A Place For Mom will deliver a list of communities to you, AND are paid if you decide to move in there...even if you did all the legwork yourself OR if you come in there with a senior placement agency! They don't have a very good reputation amongst the senior services community. (It looks like both Yelp and Google aren't too good at identifying senior placement agencies, but if you Google "Senior placement agency Berkeley" the first result is a woman I actually know and trust...and who I won't name here because I haven't used her services directly.)

    My mother moved into Independent Living 3 years ago. She chose Grand Lake Gardens, and was very happy with that choice until she had to move to Assisted Living last year and that meant leaving GLG. She moved into their sister facility, Piedmont Gardens, which has been great for her. Piedmont has all levels of care, Independent, Assisted, and Skilled Nursing. So if you think her status will change in the near future, it is less disruptive to move to Piedmont Gardens. 

  • My parents are healthy, 83 and 78 year olds, and are getting to that age where they'd like to move into some kind of retirement community where they have a condo / home and can get help if needed, but have their own kitchen, etc. But would like to live somewhere where as they have more needs they can stay in the community but live in a more assisted type of community. Ideally in Portland, OR or the SF Bay Area and frankly, somewhere where the general population has more of a liberal slant -- they are far from conservative. Any recommendations of places?

    As you say, an area where the general population is more liberal is probably going to be reflected in the retirement communities. The main suggestion I'd give you and your parents is to think very seriously about the continuum of care and the reality of what their needs are going to be in the foreseeable future. Being in the thick of this with my husband's parents, sorry to tell you but after 80, anything can happen, and I personally would think twice about the kitchen thing for 80+. Finances are also an issue, of course. You may want to tour a couple continuing-care places (Walnut Creek and Pleasanton have some my husband has looked at) to start to get a feel for the range of options and costs; I'm guessing it will be cheaper in Portland. The more open communication between you, your parents, and any siblings in the mix, the better; in particular, ask your parents how many more times they really want to move (keeping in mind YOU will be the person responsible for the actual moving). This is not a fun process for anyone (we have heard a lot of magical thinking from my husband's 80+ year old parents), but if they can get situated somewhere before the inevitable crisis, it's probably easier on you in the long run.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice about Senior Communities More Reviews & Related Pages

2013 - 2014 Discussions

In-laws moving to the Bay Area

May 2014

Hi, all. My in-laws are moving up here from Los Angeles, and we are trying to find them a new place to live. They are early 70s, retired, reasonably active. They enjoy outdoor time, but nothing terribly exerting. My mother-in-law is cultured and engaged, but not the quickest to make new friends.

They looked at Rossmoor, but can't swing it, and the realtors they have spoken to seem to be steering them toward condos in Pinole. I am wondering what else is out there, and if any of you have had experiences with communities like Rossmoor that might have a lower $$$ entry point. They are selling a house down south, but we can't be sure how much money they'll have to work with.

I'd love to see them somewhere with access to public transportation and a farmer's market. A community of seniors would be a good thing. All advice is welcome (even if you'd just like to introduce your beloved realtor). We are in Berkeley, and they will want to visit their grandkid regularly. Many thanks!

Two years ago, after we had our first kid, my in-laws moved here from NYC. I was encouraging them to find something in the lower hills just above Solano or Shattuck in North Berkeley, convinced it would be perfect for them. We looked at many options including Lake Merritt, Piedmont and Rossmoor.

They ended up settling in a large apartment complex in Downtown Walnut Creek. They are very happy, they are a few blocks from BART, 1 block from the Farmer's Market and a few blocks from a park, many stores and restaurants. Their only complaints are that the apartment complex they are in 1) has no wireless and 2) has an annual price increase. There are several complexes opening up nearby and they suspect they may move to one of those, although they are renewing for this year. It has rarely taken us more than 20 minutes to get there from North Oakland. Best of luck, have a local grandma has been great for us. DeAnna

Hi. I know someone who is senior who moved from Maryland to a Walnut Creek senior community. She's in her late 60s / early 70s and likes it alot. She drives. The community is near the Pleasant Hill BART station tho not exactly walkable. There is a large and very good Farmer's Mkt in downtown WC every sunday. WC also has lots of monthly events. Coming from LA, not sure how your in-laws would like the sizzling hot temps that WC gets in the summer. We moved to WC one month ago after one yr in Rockridge and nearly 7y in LA (near Venice) and I find the dry heat slightly intolerable. However the Walnut Creek Manor community seems nice and affordable. Worth a look perhaps. Good luck! tarry

We love San Leandro, and there's a great Senior Center in town, an active senior community, excellent library, and many fun things to do in town. Cost of living is great, but going up gradually. The library is a great place to start: get the local activities guide there, and be sure to check out the excellent collection. A surprisingly broad selection of magazines and books are available (I work in several libraries so I am well-versed in how important it is to have a great collection!). Grab a San Leandro Times while you're here, too. Much of the town is pleasantly flat, so it's great for walking or bike riding. There are two BART stations and AC Transit buses. People are friendly, down to earth, and it's a great diverse community. The reason we have a lively senior community is chiefly because many people moved here in the 1950's-60's to raise their families and stayed in San Leandro. Our realtor, Amy Robeson, was excellent. As a local resident, she went above and beyond the call of duty to help us buy a home and get to know our new city. We discovered her thanks to very happy reviews on BPN and her help was essential for making our home buying process smooth. Good luck in finding the right town for your in-laws! Kirstin

Does our ideal retiremnt neighborhood exist?

Oct 2013

We are in the same 'spot' and were wondering if there was a retirement community that was ACTIVE and fun to live in. We recently went on the Del Webb site, and of all the places to live, the Del Webb property in So. Carolina - called- Sun City Carolinas[actually on the border of No. Carolina and 1/2 hr. away from Charlotte,N.C.]. This property really appealed to us.

You own your own home, and there is so much to do from kayaking, tennis, golf, swimming, biking, classes in line dancing, crochet, quilting, cooking,etc.etc.... -[over 100 clubs/classes !]..

The tax rate is 6%, and the cost of living much cheaper than Calif. You can buy a 2 bed.2bath starting @ $190,000 and they are very well made homes.

Anyway, with the Bay Area getting so expensive, and us wanting a change, we are going to look into this very soon. Hope this helps.. judy & terry

I didn't see the original post, so I don't know if you're considering California or not. I know of several people who have moved to Oakmont in S Rosa, and they really like it. Plenty of different options from renting to owning condos, houses, care facilities. My parents visited a Del Webb type place in Roseville and said it was nice. Same sort of thing. And my inlaws looked around at a place near Aptos that they liked a lot, but it sounded pricey, and I don't remember the name of it.

2010 - 2012 Discussions

Senior Living Community for 68 year old MIL

August 2011

My 68 yr old MIL is moving to the Bay Area soon. She is quite isolated and we think she would benefit from a community of others close in age. She is unemployed and lives on her social security checks without much in the way of savings. She is physically healthy and does not need any sort of assisted care. Any recommendations for housing communities or ideas for her? We thought about Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, but I think they encourage buying a place instead of long-term rentals. She could live in the South Bay, Marin, or East Bay and is open to all of those places. Thank you.

My mother has lived for 15 yrs at Strawberry Creek Lodge,a large apt complex for low/middle income independent seniors, 65 & over,on Addison St in Berkeley. She has thrived there, and made friends, with a very lively, interesting & multi-cultural population.Mom is a former New Yorker, an old 'lefty', former actress & singer. She pays xtra for the meal program - 5 dinners /week, pretty good food; activities are created by the occupants, incl Scrabble groups, poetry/play reading group, opera movies on Mon nites, Tues/Friday first run movies, Gray Panthers mtgs, arts & crafts (full pottery workshop),lots of bodywork scheduled, music,etc. Lovely large garden, Andronico's 1 block away.Not as upscale as Rossmoor, more Berkeleyesque! Please feel free to contact me directly... Joanna

Hi - I'm a health advocate/geriatric care manager and would recommend you speak with a senior placement specialist. Their services are free to you, however you must know that they get paid a referral fee from the community in which they place people. If you're comfortable with that, I would recommend: Juliane Bigelow with CareQUest 925.935.8811 Steve Sharbrough with Senior Seasons 650.851.5284 or if your MIL has any sort of forgetfulness or needs memory care, I would recommend Sandra Wallace from Insight Memory Care Choices, 650.208.8809. If you're not comfortable with the referral fee, I would be happy to help find the appropriate place for your MIL although we do charge the client and do not accept referral fees. Good luck! Dana

Dog-friendly Senior living facilities in the East Bay

May 2011

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with Senior Living facilities. We're looking to relocate my mom, who's been living alone, up to the Bay Area, and a wanting to find the best place we can. One of the most important factors is that they accept dogs-she has a beloved Shiba, and there's no way she'll go anywhere where he's not welcome. She's not really the formal, St. Paul's type-more Berkeley-like in her outlook. Any advice? Thanks! P

We moved my in-laws to Bay Park in Pinole. It's just off the Appian Way exit. It's very nice, lots of single women there and everyone is pretty high functioning. Residents can have dogs, except in studio apartments. I have found it to be a supportive, friendly community and my in-laws seem happy there. Feel free to email if you want more info. marika

78 yr old Jewish father looking to retire in N CAL

Nov 2010

My father is about to sell his business in Los Angeles and is looking for a retirement community in either Arizona or Northern California. He is fiercely independent and very active. Since we are in Berkeley I am hoping there is something he will like not too far from us. While he gets around, he has had 3 hip replacements and can't go too far too fast. He enjoys golfing, so a golf course is a must wherever he goes. While he is not a practicing Jew other than the high holidays, his Jewishness is important and he would like to be in a community with other Jewish people. Gardening, flowers and landscaping are also loves of his. I would appreciate knowing of any places you are familiar with that might entice him to come and live near us. Thank you, M.

I suggest Rossmoor . I know a number of people whose parents moved there and love it. Many activities. Lots of people who are on the go. I don't know whether there is gardening but they do have a picture of a woman gardening on their site. He could volunteer at Heather Farms Gardens which is in Walnut Creek and is a gorgeous place maintained by an army of volunteer gardeners. There are other community gardens too.

My friends are all Jewish. Not everyone is Jewish at Rossmoor, nor are the Jews necessarily religious, but there are Jews. The JCC is not far and they have some movies and cultural activities. It is not far from BART and your dad could go in to Berkeley or over to SF to museums and such.

Take a look at their website:

They have golf and swimming. Dawn

Berkeley is a pretty good place for older Jewish people. There's an active cultural life (film festival, classes at the JCC and various synagogues. The secular culture for older people in Berkeley is also very active with the 3 senior centers and the YMCA as hubs. And I know of a number of families where the Jewish grandparents have moved here to be closer to their children. Unfortunately there are no golf courses. For that, you'd probably have to go out to Walnut Creek. I know they have a reasonably active Jewish Community there, but I don't know much more about it. anon

Independent living now, with assisted living later

August 2010

My parents who live back east are now in their 80s and hope to move out here to the Bay Area to be near me, their only daughter, and my two children. My dad is in good health, but my mother had a stroke and uses a walker and will need assisted living sometime in the next few years. We would like to find a place where they can buy a home and live independently as long as possible, and then have assisted living there when it becomes necessary.

Ideally, my parents would like a two-bdrm, single-family home but are willing to get a condo. They can spend around $400K. They have been homeowners since 1962, so I'm not sure if they would be willing to rent an apartment, but if the facility is exceptional, perhaps they would consider it? Their residence must be all on one floor without stairs.

On the internet, my dad found places in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, but we would like them to be closer. (We live in central Berkeley.) Driving at night is difficult for my dad, and what happens when he can't drive at all? We'd like for them to be no more than 30 minutes away because at some point we have to do all the driving when we see them. We thought Rossmoor over the hill would be ideal, but it turns out Rossmoor does not offer assisted living.

A little about my parents: they retired in a resort area back east, in a gated community. In their community, everyone must get permission to paint their homes a new color, cut down trees or bushes, etc. They are not allowed to have gardens on their property. I find it sterile, but my parents love it there because everything is neat and clean and no yards are 'unkempt'. They like nice suburbs and dislike Berkeley and most metropolitan areas of California because they're too urban, crowded and dirty. When they travel, they don't like cute little B They prefer hotel chains like Marriot because they know what to expect and it will be clean and well-kept. When they used to visit us in Berkeley, they stayed at the DoubleTree hotel in the Berkeley Marina because it is so NOT Berkeley. I would love for them to live close to us in the East Bay but most of the area is too urban and crowded for them. I keep hoping that we could find something for them in the East Bay, but it would have to well-maintained, very clean and bright.

Do you know of any places that offer independent living now with assisted living when it's needed? Or, do you know where I can get a directory of places that I can investigate? Have you been in my situation? Thanks! Andi

You (and your parents) should visit Rossmoor, a retirement community in Walnut Creek. It meets a lot of the criteria you mentioned and is in a safe, quiet place that's only about 20 minutes from Oakland/Berkeley. They provide a variety of housing options, including condos and houses for independent living, but I'm not sure about the assisted living options. The community also has many amenities, including a health clinic, swimming pools, and classes right within the gated community. You have to contact a real estate office to sign up for a tour since you can't just go visit on your own. Check out the website for more information:

My mother in law spent several very good years at Byron Park in Walnut Creek. It is very un-Berkeley -- suburban, manicured, courtyard with swimming pool and spa. There are one- and two-bedroom apartments, a dining room, activities and a shuttle bus that regularly goes to the Safeway on Tice Valley Road and into Walnut Creek. It is definitely more independent living than assisted living, though there is some support available as needed (pay as you go). It is clean and orderly -- feels a lot like a Marriott, so your folks might feel right at home. When my MIL's needs (dementia and mobility problems) exceeded Byron Park's ability to meet them, we moved her to Aegis in Moraga. Also nice, and like Byron Park in some ways, but more of a frail elderly population. Aegis staff were very loving with her, and helpful arranging and working with hospice when she was in her last months. Both places are pricey, but it sounds like money is not too much of an issue for your folks. Good luck. Aging Parents are a Challenge

I know you stated your parents were looking for a place to purchase, but you might want to take a look at Baywood Court Senior Community in Castro Valley. They have an independent living section, an assisted living section, and a 'health center' or skilled nursing section. My father lived in the independent living section for 3 years. He had a one bedroom apartment, but there are also two bedroom apts available. He had some major surgery about two years ago and moved to the assisted living section. He is 91 years old and rather frail. He is in a studio apt now and gets excellent care. There is a very active senior community there and they are offered all kinds of activities and outings. He has been very happy there and made many new friends. Castro Valley is only 25 minutes away, but very 'not Berkeley'.

Is Davis too far? Because I think University Retirement Community (URC) is what your parents are looking for (except maybe a little more expensive): It is really nice in a sterile, everything is the same sort of way that it sounds like your parents would like.

There are individual little houses, or they can move into an apartment/condo, or there is actual assisted living. I had an aunt with Alzheimer's in the high care part of facility and it didn't seem as depressing as similar places I'd seen. We also know people who moved into one of the little 2-bedroom houses and they like it. There are bigger gathering rooms they can reserve for parties, there are dining halls for when they don't feel like cooking, and other nice amenities. I think (but am not sure -- might be getting it confused with somewhere else my aunt stayed) that they have shuttles to various places -- like to Sacramento or San Francisco -- so maybe you wouldn't have to do all the driving. At the very least, there is good train service between here and Davis so your parents could take Amtrak. Anon

Hi. There are many versions of senior housing out there. In broad terms there are buy-ins (CCRC or life care) and rentals (assisted living, independent living, etc) . If you want to stay in the east bay and you want the buy-in, you could look at Rossmoor, Salem Lutheran Home or St. Paul Towers (my favorite of the buy-in variety). If you like the idea of rentals you could try AgeSong @ Bayside Park or Byron Park. Each county offers services through the fed funded Area on Aging. They provide directories. There are placement services available but they tend to work with the communities that pay them to recommend their community. patty

Just wanted to let you know that while Rossmoor does not offer assisted living, they will allow residents to bring in their own private caregiver(s). On Sacramento Street in Berkeley is the Berkshire ( which is very close to where you are. Also St. Paul's Tower in Oakland might be another choice. Best of luck! Stephanie Huie, Senior Helpers Berkeley Office

To get some guidance/education I recommend: www.seniorvisionaryservices www.exceptionalseniorservices
The latter two are specialists who are brokers of assisted livings/retirement living/care homes. Their services are free to families. Both are very experienced and reputable. I recommend these two especially since they provide a more personalized service- can set up appts. for you to see places, may be able to meet you there or possibly pick up an elder to have them view the place, negotiate the price as well as the one-time non-refundable fee if applicable- no obligation. Both serve multiple counties. Monica

Low-income senior housing

July 2010

Hi, I am looking for low-income senior housing for a close family friend. My friend is over 70 and looked for senior housing everywhere in the Bay Area. They didn't take her several years back because the waiting lists were way too long. She went back to work to earn money for rent, and was taken off the waiting lists because she had an income. She is a cancer survivor and works very hard. It is frustrating that in the Bay Area it is hard for low-income seniors to find housing. Please help.

Try Satelite Housing. They have Senior and Section 8 housing all over the East Bay. Some are very nice and new.

Senior Living in San Ramon or Dublin

April 2010

Hi, does anyone have recommendations on Senior Living facilities in San Ramon (or Dublin), possibly places that have assisted living help? We are about to start evaluating the various places in San Ramon. If someone has a recommendation or would be willing to share their knowledge of these facilities, we would love that.

My mother-in-law has been very happy at the senior apartments on Finnian Way in Dublin (Santa Rita/Tassajara exit off 580). No assisted living services, but fairly new, very clean and nice. Good luck. Debbie

Retirement Homes Berkeley Oakland?

Feb 2010

I am exploring continuing care retirement homes for my parents who are about 80 and retired academics. I see old recommendations, but not much up to date. We are looking at The Berkshire this week, and would love some first hand commentary on it.

Have not found much else in Berkeley, seems as if we need to go to Oakland to Piedmont Gardens, St Paul's Towers, Cardinal Point, or? Any other possibilities in Berkeley? Greatly appreciate any feedback on the aforementioned or others I should check out. (Contra Costa County will not do for them.) emily

My father in law moved to Piedmont Gardens when he was 83 years old and widowed (from Ohio). He'd had a year previous in a similar place in Ohio that he didn't like much and really preferred Piedmont Gardens. The independent living situation is great. Decent if institutional type food. The staff are nice. Good company. Lots of retired academics. Having a library, bank, grocery store, drugstore all within 1-2 blocks is great for continued independence. And it's blocks from Kaiser and Summit.

The buy-in is steep--same with any life care place.

The skilled nursing facility is atrocious (not the staff themselves but the staffing numbers and physical amenities including medical equipment), but has recently been cited by the state with a lot of bad publicity and I imagine will improve as a result.

No place is great in all aspects (some much better with skilled nursing but not so with independent living, and vice versa.)

We looked at Saint Paul's a couple of times with him. More formal/class concious (suit jackets to dinner for example), near the lake which is pretty, not near any practical shopping other than Whole Foods.

One nice thing we realized actually worked was that if your folks don't like the place, they can move. (My father in law moved within a year of his Ohio retirement residence start and got a full refund.)

One important thing is having it be close enough for you to get to easily. Location, location. Susan

I have seen this question come up a few times and I just wanted to recommend Baywood Court Retirement Community, 21966 Dolores St, (just off Grove Wy), in Castro Valley. My father moved there in 2004, two years after my mother passed away. It has three levels, independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. My father initially moved into the independent living. The apartments are one or two bedrooms with a full kitchen. They are provided two meals a day in a nice dining room setting. About a year and a half ago, my father had heart surgery and needed to move into the assisted living section. These are studio type apartments and they receive three meals a day again in a nice dining room setting and receive assistance with medications, showers, and other personal needs. My father has been very happy there and has made many friends. They have lots of activities and field trips and the residents are very involved in what goes on there. Should he require full time nursing assistance, he can move to the skilled nursing center, which they call the Health Center. It was just opened last year and has been beautifully remodeled. I can't tell you what a relief it has been to me to know he is being well taken care of and in a place he likes. Should you want any further information, please email me. bamper1

2007 - 2009 Discussions

Parents moving to the East Bay - housing options?

Nov 2007

My 70 yo parents are considering moving to the East Bay. My dad is in good health for the most part (is pretty mobile, drives, does his own cooking/cleaning), but my mom has a number of health problems and is increasingly in need of assistance (needs help with ADLs). They currently live independently in their own (2-story) home and want to move to a 1-story home. I'm not sure how long they will be able to live independently. I'd like to get a better sense of the different housing options they have. I've read some (very)old posts about places like Lake Park, St. Paul's Towers, Piedmont Gardens, Claremont House. I'd love to hear from anyone who has more recent experiences with them. I'd also love to hear any thoughts about places that allow for a gradual transition to assisted living - i.e., it would be a pretty big shock for my parents to go from living independently, to assisted living. Any recommendations? local daughter

My mother just moved to the East Bay - and after checking out the different tiers of assisted living, she ended up opting for a regular apartment in a high rise. She's pretty active and healthy, but the apartment building has things like security and elevators which eliminate some of the problems of living alone which she may encounter over the next few years. It's turned out to be a great choice for her. She just couldn't face moving into an elder resident complex - even the ones with graduated care were so radically different from her usual independent living in a suburban house. The apartment is pretty centrally located, so she can walk to the bus, the BART, and various services which will also be an advantage as her ability to drive may decrease over the next few years. Another East Bay Daughter

After looking at about a dozen places, my mom just moved into St. Paul's Towers a few weeks ago. We looked at all the places you mentioned plus a bunch more and St. Pauls was by far the nicest. It is what's called a life care community - they have independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, etc., so once residents are accepted and move in, they never have to move again.

The apartments are beautiful, 3 meals a day are included and served in the restaurant, weekly houskeeping is provided, there are lots of activities, outings, transportation available, etc. Both the staff and residents are extremely friendly, helpful, and welcoming. And of all the places we looked at, St. P's was one of the few that didn't feel like an ''old people's home'' - it feels and looks like a very nice apartment building.

The apartments range in size from studio to 2 br/2ba with full kitchen and deck. They are light, airy, well built, well laid out. And they apparently have a lot of apartments available right now, which is not usually the case.

St. Pauls definitely isn't cheap, but if you/your parents can afford it, I would say it is by far the best option in the east bay. happy with St. Paul's

2004 - 2006 Discussions

Independent living options for 84 year old friend

February 2006

I am looking for senior housing options for a friend. She is 84 years old, and relatively active, but slowing down. She is currently living in a house but is having trouble keeping up with maintence. I was hoping to find something like an apartment with van serivice and medical staff available. She currently is in okay health, but I would like to find a facility that has an independent living accomodations and more options for more assistance as her needs change. Thanks. Lisa

My mom lives at Lake Park Retirement Residence @ 1850 Alice St. in Oakland. Near the Scottish Rites Temple, a block from Lake Merritt. At Lake Park you ''buy in'' to what they call ''Life Care''. You pay for your apartment (different apartments, different prices) plus a monthly fee which goes up slightly every year based on cost of living increases. Meals, activities, medical needs, etc. are all included.

As you need more care, it is available at no extra cost. mom lived in her studio apartment independantly for 3 years. SHe had a kitchenette in her apartment where she ate breakfast. For lunch and dinner she went downstairs to the main dining room and ate with friends (fairly good food in my opinion).

Then she moved down to another apartment (same) on the assisted living floor where she was for about a year. Now she is in her own room on the skilled nursing floor (my mom is almost 93 and has progressive old age dementia which developed over the last 2 years). She is very well taken care of.

Lake Park is clean, big, lots of activities and the staff there could not be more wonderful.

Your mom can go and visit and stay for 2 days...they will put her up and assign her a buddy, so she can get a feel of what it might be like to live there. My mother was certain she would not like it till she spent 2 days and made friends and found that her life would be busy and happy, as opposed to the very isolated life she was living in her big house that she could no longer take care of in New Hampshire. It was a big move for her but she adjusted well.

There are many other great places too....Piedmont Gardens, Claremont House (across from the Rockridge Shopping Center) St. Paul's Towers (near the lake too) and I'm sure others. I suggest you call these places and go on a tour yourself before bringing your mother. Good luck. If you would like to talk more about Lake Park or how we decided on that vs.others, please e- mail me. Good luck. june

Housing options near Berkeley for my 86 year old mom

Nov 2007

My mother currently lives independently in San Francisco. We are eager to have her move to the East Bay, as she is having more challenges driving, memory, etc. We have toured Cardinal Point in Alameda and Piedmont Gardens in Oakland, both very nice. She would do well in an active, social place where she can live independently, but other options as she ages, including possible Assisted Living and Memory/Alzheimer care. Does anyone have any experiences with either place or know of other 'Continuous Care Communities'? We live in Alameda, so want something in the area.

Lake Park on 18th and Alice in Oakland, off of Lakeshore is a really nice retirement place. They have independant living, assisted living and nursing care. My mom moved in there about 7 years ago to a studio apartment. After about 3 years she moved to assisted living and then later on to nursing care. The care at Lakepark is's clean, friendly, efficient. We chose Lakepark because they had the different levels of care. When my mom was active and able she had a great group of friends. They ate together, went places together. There are lots of in house activities and also a van that takes residents shopping, to shows, concerts, etc. Also the various Drs. come there to see patients. Good luck in finding a good place for your mom. You can ask me more if you want to. June

Housing options near Berkeley for my 86 year old mom

January 2005

I have been looking at senior housing for my 86 year old mom. She is in pretty good shape, but 86...not ready for assisted living, but needs more socializing and transportation. She currently lives in Rossmoor. I have looked at Chateau III in Pleasant Hill, Claremont Gardens, Lake Park, Piedmont Gardens, Strawberry Creek (too hip) the Berkshires, (too fragile). I live in West Berkeley and would like her to be within 15 or 20 minutes, but will compromise if the place is great. I would love to hear from someone with some current first hand experience at any of these places. I am glazing over. They all seem OK, but nothing says YES absolutely... Wish there was another option, like the communal living of our younger years.... Any advice appreciated. Signed: Janet

My mother-in-law spent five years at Byron Park, the Independent Living facility on Tice Valley Rd. in WC. (If your mom lives in Rossmoor you have passed Byron Park a million times: It's the big grey buiding on the left as you turn onto Tice Valley from Olympic.) It was a good place for her. Each resident has their own apartment (studio, 1 or 2 BR), with a functional kitchen. There also is a dining room that serves lunch and dinner daily. There is a pool and a hot tub, the place is clean and airy, and there is a pull cord in every apartment for emergencies. A bus takes people to appointments, shopping, etc., and there are some interesting excursions for those inclined to explore. It really is independent living, however; no one there suffers from dementia or needs more than periodic assistance. For someone with all her marbles, in search of a senior community with just a bit of support, it is a good place.

When my mother-in-law was no longer able to live independently (dementia and mobility problems) we moved her to Aegis in Moraga. It is an assisted living place with sliding scale assistance: the more you need, the more you pay. But it does not feel institutional the way most AL places do. Each resident has a room with a private bath and small refrigerator/microwave. The dining room serves three meals a day. It is bright and clean in the same way Byron Park was (one reason we chose it). It is just a block from shopping, and right near a beautiful walking path. There are some sharp seniors there (alas, my mother-in-law is not one of them) and staff is nice and helpful.

Good luck with your search. Leslie

2003 & Earlier

Housing for my mother moving here

October 2002

I am considering moving my mother to Berkeley or close by, certainly no farther than El Cerrito, and I'm interested in learning about housing for retired people. I've heard of some of the places here that offer apartments and services for elders, but I don't know anyone who lives or lived in any of them. I've looked at the website and my mother is not a good candidate for Rossmoor. I've also gotten recommendations that contradict some of what I read. I know that many, if not all, of the popular places have waiting lists. I would be interested in opinions, recommendations or impressions. Concerned daughter

We moved my mother-in-law from the east coast 5 years ago, and set her up in Byron Park in Walnut Creek (on Tice Valley Road, on the way to Rossmoor). It is primarily an ''independent living'' facility (though there are a few ''assisted living'' units). The place is not cheap, but has worked well for her. The rent includes one meal each day in the dining room, where the food is uninspired but decent. You can opt for a second meal too. The building surrounds a central courtyard, which has a swimming pool and hot tub, which are open from late April to October (approximately). The apartments range in size, and are quite nice. The front desk checks on residents who have not called in each morning, and every apartment has a pull-cord that alerts the front desk of emergencies. There is a shuttle bus that takes residents to shopping areas and to doctors appointments. There are activities (e.g. movie night, hymn singing, exercise classes) and occasional outings to museums and other places of interest. The residents tend to be educated and interesting. The staff has been very patient with my mother-in- law's occasional lapses of judgment, and have kept in good communication with us when issues have arisen. We fear she may eventually become unable to care for herself and need to leave -- a downside to independent living places -- but until then, she will continue to live happily at Byron Park. Daughter-in-law

My 89 year old mother has been at Lake Park Retirement Residence for 2 years and is very happy there. At Lake Park (1850 Alice St. in Oakland off of Lakeshore) you buy in to what they call ''life care''. This means that you pay for an apartment. Price depends on size and view of apt. After that you pay a monthly fee which covers meals, maintenance and any extra care she may need. The fee goes up a small percent yearly based on inflation.

The facility is very attractive, there are lots of activities there, the people are extremely helpful and friendly and the food is pretty nutritious and tasty. If you call them they will take you on a tour and invite you for a meal. They will invite your mother to come and stay at no cost for 2 days and 2 nights. That was the selling point for my mom who was convinced she'd hate it. She loved it. We live in East Richmond, so from our house to Lake Park with no traffic (hah!) is about a 20 minute ride. On the average, depending on traffic and the route we take it's more realistically 30 minutes, but not often more. My mom's busy enough that I don't have to run over there all the time to do things for her. The few groceries that she has in her kitchenette (she eats lunch and dinner in the dining room,but breakfast in her ''studio apt'') we order from one of the internet deliveries. She can take East Bay Paratransit to most place she wants to go.

The thing about Lake Park is you have to be able to live independantly in order to buy in there. As you need assisted care or nursing care, it's available but you can't move in needing those services. We checked out some places that were rentals rather than buy ins and the prices were so outrageously high and each extra service cost extra that we would've used up all our resources in no time. I'd be happy to talk to you further. You can call me at 236-9644 or e-mail me. Good luck. June

My mother lives at Redwood Gardens in Berkeley, which I think is a really nice place for someone on a budget who is fairly mobile and wants to do their own housekeeping. It is an apartment complex, not set up for people who need help with cooking and cleaning. My mother was on a waiting list there for 3 years before she got an apartment.

My husband's mother has lived at Claremont House in North Oakland (on 51st St across from Longs & Safeway.) for about 2 years. She does not cook for herself and needs someone to clean her place, do her laundry, and check on her once in a while. Claremont House has a dining room with pretty good food, and is set up to help people who are not completely independent. We are pretty happy with it. She was on the waiting list for only a few months, although when we had checked into it previously there was a long wait, so I think it varies.

Before Claremont House, my mother-in-law lived at Water's Edge in Alameda which is a nice place in a very pretty setting, but it was not as convenient to our home in Berkeley. I would recommend all three of these places. Redwood Gardens has many lively and colorful residents, in keeping with its Berkeley location. Claremont House seems to have a nice mix of all kinds of older folks, while Water's Edge struck me as more the silver-haired suburban gramma set! Ginger

Inexpensive or subsidized apartments for my mother

May 2000

My mother is looking to move from Santa Clara to Berkeley this summer. She'll be retiring in a couple of years, and moving back east at that point, so isn't looking to buy. So, I'm trying to find out what's out there in terms of cheap/subsidized housing for older folks (she's almost 63). I'm not looking for assisted living or anything, just a place that might be less costly. She very much wants to be in Berkeley, to be near her one and only grandson. And we could use the babysitting. Anybody know anything about this, or where to trun for more info? Thanks. Chris

Re elder care: Four years ago we researched retirement communities for my mother-in-law, then 76 and healthy but a bit physically frail. There are three categories: independent living (one's own apartment for self-sufficient people, but with some services), assisted living (help with dressing, feeding etc.) and nursing home care. We didn't find any place that offers what a hale and engaged senior needs now, but also has full assisted living for the future. Places that offered real assisted living tended to cater to more frail (read: out of it) people and were depressing for my elderly but independent mother-in-law. We opted for a place that was predominantly independent living with limited assisted care in case of illness or injury. She ended up in Byron Park in Walnut Creek and has been very happy. It is a large building with individual apartments -- real apartments, with real (if small) kitchens, unlike many we saw. There is a dining room that provides lunch and dinner (the rent includes one meal a day but residents can opt for two), lots of activities for seniors, a shuttle that takes people in and out of town and to medical appointments, and pull cords in every room to get emergency help in case of a fall or something. There is a check-in system (opening the door for the newspaper in the morning triggers an okay signal to the front desk, I think) so the front desk knows to check up on someone if they have not checked in by 9:00 am or so. There is a nice pool which is heated to about 90 degrees and a spa. It is not cheap, but manageable with her pension and savings. I'm sure she would be happy to speak with your mother about it, and give her a guided tour. We also liked the Claremont House in Oakland (near Piedmont Avenue), which has an interesting mix of residents, including many retired Berkeley professors, but is more urban. Leslie

I believe that Piedmont Gardens off of Piedmont Ave. in Oakland is quite well thought of. It's well located for seniors near lots of amenities (minimizing driving) and public transportation, too. Worth checking out, anyway, and they might have other information about other options for you, too. Wendy

Call the Alameda County Agency on Aging for a list of all senior facilities in Northern Alameda County. The list includes brief descriptions. You can also ask them to be put on the mail list for their next Information and Referral Roundtable, which brings together 50-100 reps of senior agencies in the area; then you can request suggestions from them. Also check the local AARP chapter for resources. In Berkeley, Strawberry is modest cost, independent living, long wait list. In Oakland, St. Paul's Towers is high-end life care. You pay $35,000+ (depending on the size of the apt you choose) 'buy-in', then $2000+/month, including 3 meals, maid service, transportation, all medical care, and guarantee of assisted living, skilled nursing care and hospitalization (including alzheimers care on site) for the rest of your life. Active social calendar. In San Leandro, Baywood Court. Independent living apts, separate assisted living units, pool, gardens, very active social community run by residents. Merry

Strawberry lodge has a good reputation for senior housing, but I don't know if they offer assisted living. You should avoid the Berkshire House. Although it's a nice physical environment, I found that the only administrator who had a clue about my mother's well being was the owner, Ms. Arndt. The other people were completely oblivious to her needs. It was quite unsettling. There is a really nice place in El Ceritto named something Royal (I think). There is a very handy booklet called Lifestyles that lists a lot of housing for seniors. Toby

We've just spent the last few weeks looking for senior housing for my mother. She's 87 and lives independantly but may need help as the years pass. There are many places in the area. I recommend stopping at a local senior center and picking up a booklet called New Lifestyles. An Area Guide to Senior Residences and Care Options for SF Bay. This booklet has every possible type of situation you could need throughout the area. The phone number to call is 1-800- 869-9549. It was very helpful to us.

My mother chose a place off of Lake Merritt called Lake Park. They invited her to stay a night or two (she stayed one night and one day) as their guest and she fell in love with it and can't wait to go back. She lives in northern N.H. in a lovely rural town in a big house but is very isolated in the winter and can't afford the continued upkeep on her house, taxes, etc. She's healthy and sharp but getting a bit frail.

Some places have what's called Life Care where you buy in and then pay a monthly fee that never changes even if the care you need changes. Other places charge monthly rent only. We found some places to be really expensive and some places to be very depressing and dumpy. Then we found some places that felt really nice and were willing to do creative financing such as Lake Park.

I suggest you pick up this booklet (free) and call places and go see some of them. I know there are a few supposedly really nice places in Berkeley.We didn't look at any of them because we found Lake Park and didn't need to look further. Good luck. June

Claremont House on 51st Street has nice apartments and different levels of care. It's across from the shopping Mall and therefore very convenient for Seniors. Piedmont Gardens has a great reputation. For unassisted living: Berkeley Town House has condo's to buy for seniors only: Dana and Parker. My mother lives there and likes it. also, close to Andronico's and restaurants. If you call Jewish Family Services I think you could get a full list of places to look at. Good Luck! Dorothea

I recommend Strawberry Creek Lodge at 1320 Addison ST. 510-841-8330. It is an older building but it is well cared for, has good management, an active resident population, and an ownership board that cares about the residents. They have some section 8 slots but there is always a waiting list. check it out. If they can't accommodate you, they can recommend other senior buildings in the Oakland area. Mrschilly