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What qualities do you seek in a place to retire? Big-city amenities in a small-town atmosphere? Endless cultural offerings? Close proximity to major highways?
Look no further than the Roanoke Valley. With a variety of locally owned restaurants, a bustling downtown, museums and theaters, and quick access to interstates 81, 77 and 64, the “Star City” has it all…and more.
Award-winning. That’s one of many adjectives used to describe the area. Roanoke’s health care facilities consistently are recognized for quality. In 2007, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine named Roanoke one of the top five areas nationwide for retirees. The fifth edition of “Retirement Places Rated” named Roanoke the second-best metro retirement area in the country, based on a cost of living below the national average, pleasant climate, great health care and low crime rate. In 2002, Money magazine sited Roanoke’s “Southern charm with all four seasons” as a retiree draw.
Just because you’ve retired, doesn’t mean you have to sit around the house. Flanked by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke also has easy access to the Appalachian Trail – 113 miles are maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club – and other hiking, biking or birding spots that will keep you moving. The valley also features numerous greenway systems that wind throughout the city and along the Roanoke River.
For more activities – indoors and outdoors – to add to your day, local parks and recreation departments offer full, year-round schedules of fun geared toward seniors.
Community centers operated by Roanoke City Parks and Recreation feature personal enrichment programs available not only to seniors, but any adult over the age of 18. Fitness classes, arts and crafts workshops, movies and other activities are available.
“The Mountain View Community Center (540-853-2679) is where most of our senior programs take place,” says Leah Goodman, marketing and information specialist for the City of Roanoke. “It is an elegant turn-of-the-century mansion and a great place to hold programs. Every weekday seniors gather there to play card games and enjoy fellowship.” 540-853-2236; roanokeva.gov.
The Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department hosts a variety of classes, fitness programs and trips, many exclusively for seniors. Choices range from yoga and cardio classes, potluck lunches and computer classes to pottery, painting and trips to historic areas. Opening in January, the county’s Green Ridge Recreation Center will offer similar programs and more. 540-772-PLAY (7529); roanokecountyva.gov.
At Salem Parks and Recreation Senior Center, each weekday offers something for retirees to enjoy. Typical activities include bridge, exercise classes, an arts and crafts session, dance lessons and musical performances. The center also plans special trips to attractions such as the Barter Theatre in Abingdon or Peaks of Otter. 540-375-3054; ci.salem.va.us/depts/parks_rec/seniors.html.
Other senior centers that offer numerous programs and activities for seniors include:
• Walrond Park Senior Center, 540-561-8196
• Brambleton Center, 540-772-7505
There are plenty of ways to remain or become involved in the community after you’ve left the working world. Volunteering provides an ideal outlet for giving back and helping fellow residents of the Roanoke Valley.
“The sky is the limit in terms of senior volunteer opportunities,” says Alison Jorgensen, director of volunteer services for the Council of Community Services. “Hospitals, nursing facilities, museums and schools are all great places for senior volunteers.”
Jorgensen adds that Meals on Wheels seems to be popular among senior volunteers because it occurs during daytime hours. Other great volunteer prospects include the Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, St. Francis House and Angels of Assisi.
“We like to encourage the ‘right fit’ for each volunteer depending on their interests and skills,” she says.
For more information, contact the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program through Volunteer Roanoke Valley at 985-0131, ext. 502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here to Help
From care centers and wellness programs to retirement planning and financial services, the local area and state of Virginia offer many resources for seniors:
• The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a nonprofit membership organization for people age 50 or older that offers valuable information, services and advocacy for its members. 707 E. Main St., Suite 910, Richmond, VA 23219. 866-542-8164 (Virginia office); aarp.org.
• Adult Care Center of the Roanoke Valley provides day health services for physically and cognitively impaired adults. Its structured program includes recreational and leisure activities, diet-specific lunches and snacks and assistance with daily living. 540-362-5741; adultcarecenterofroanoke.org.
• Administration on Aging – U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services offers retirement and financial planning resources online. aoa.dhhs.gov.
• Carilion Health System Senior Services offers links to Carilion services in Southwest Virginia as well as to the Carilion Center for Healthy Aging (540-981-7653) and the VIVA Senior Membership Program (540-266-6000). carilion.com.
• Experience Works assists low-income seniors to train for jobs in their local communities. 866-397-9757 (national); experienceworks.org.
• Family Service of Roanoke Valley’s adult services include in-home care assistance, counseling and personal affairs management. 540-563-5316; fsrv.org.
• Federal Citizen Information Center provides information on a variety of topics, including health and consumer protection. 888-8-PUEBLO (888-878-3256); pueblo.gsa.gov.
• H2U (Health, Happiness and You) is a wellness program that provides the latest in health information, medical treatments and more. 540-776-4106 (Lewis-Gale); 800-771-0428 (national office); h2u.com.
• LOA (The League of Older Americans Area Agency on Aging) is a nonprofit organization that administers more than 20 community services providing nutrition, education, advocacy and socialization. 706 Campbell Ave., SW, Roanoke, VA 24016. 540-345-0451; loaa.org.
• National Association for Home Care is a trade association that represents the interest of home-care agencies and aide organizations, hospices and medical equipment suppliers. 228 Seventh St., SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. 202-547-7424; nahc.org.
• SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) uses retirees with business experience to mentor small-business owners or those doing start-ups. 540-857-2834; score.org or http://roanokeva.scorechapter.org.
• Senior Law Home Page provides information on Medicare, Medicaid, estate planning, trusts, the rights of the elderly and more. seniorlaw.com.
• SeniorNavigator, Virginia’s Resource for Health and Aging, is a website that brings more than 21,000 health and aging resources to seniors, caregivers, adults with disabilities and their families. seniornavigator.com.
• Valley Metro offers bus, carpool and door-to-door services in the Roanoke area. Senior discounts available. 540-982-2222; valleymetro.com.
• Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem serves veterans throughout Virginia with psychiatric care and Southwest Virginia with medical and surgical care. 540-982-2463 or 888-982-2463; va.gov.
• Virginia Department for the Aging fosters the independence and well-being of older Virginians and supports caregivers. 800-552-3402; vda.virginia.gov.
• Virginia Retirement System administers a defined-benefit plan, a group life insurance plan and a deferred compensation plan for Virginia’s public-sector employees. 888-827-3847; varetire.org.
• Leisure Publishing Company, publisher of this magazine, offers resources for seniors, including an annual retirement guide, “Retire Today.” The guide includes extensive charts of retirement homes and tips for financial planning, fitness and other retirement-related topics. 540-989-6138; retire-va.com.
• Other resources on the Web: seniornet.org; http://users.rcn.com/mags; ssa.gov; seniorcorps.org.