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The Good Life - Living Choices Abound

Options for a range of hobbies and preferences

Celebrating Mardi Gras at St. James Place

Ask a dozen people what the best style of life for older adults is, and you are likely to get a dozen different answers. Some plan to stay in the same homes where they raised their families, while others are eager to downsize into an apartment or condo. Still others opt for a place where they can get a variety of services as they are needed.

Because it’s such a big decision, people contemplating relocation should take some time sorting through all the possibilities, says Sharla Aloisio, executive director of the Louisiana Assisted Living Association. Visit the places you’re interested in, and ask questions about services you might need as time goes on. Do you like living in a neighborhood with children, or would you prefer a community reserved for adults 55 and up? Do you like to putter in the garden, or do you want to shed the yardwork duties?

Fortunately, just about every style of living can be found right here in Louisiana. That means residents can continue to enjoy the many benefits of Louisiana life – good food, moderate climate, festivals galore and friendly neighbors.


New Orleans Region One of the country’s most exciting cities, New Orleans is known for its restaurants, entertainment and historic buildings. But there’s more to visit than just the city. Cross the Causeway Bridge to the North Shore, home to charming towns like Covington and Hammond, or experience nature up close at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, just across the Mississippi River.

Baton Rouge Region Featuring LSU’s famed Tiger Stadium, beautiful plantation homes, small towns like St. Francisville, and outdoor getaways like the Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area, the Baton Rouge area is home to lots more than just the capital. Plan on a visit of several days to experience it all.
North Louisiana Region Called “Sportsman’s Paradise” because of its opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking and bird-watching, this region is also home to cities like Shreveport, with its restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as quieter college towns like Ruston, famed for its delicious peaches.

Central Louisiana Region Smack- dab in the middle of the state, Central Louisiana touches on the hilly north on one end and Cajun country on the other. There’s so much to see, from historic downtown Natchitoches to great fishing spots like Toledo Bend Reservoir. Don’t miss places like the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame.

Cajun Country Mention Cajun Country, and thoughts of spicy food and music come to mind. But there’s lots of history there, too, and some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. The calendar here is filled with festivals, celebrating everything from frogs in Rayne to rice in Crowley.


Continuous comfort

St. James Place in Baton Rouge is one of four Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs, in Louisiana. CCRCs allow residents to move smoothly from independent living to assisted living to skilled care without having to leave the complex. St. James Place attracts people already living in the capital as well as those who have adult children in the Baton Rouge area and want to move near their children, but not live with them, spokeswoman Janet Dewey says.

 St. James Place has more than 400 residents, and the majority opt for independent living. They can transition to assisted living, nursing care and memory care if and when the change is needed. Residents pay an entry fee and then a monthly fee which depends on the size of the apartment or garden home they choose. They monthly fee follows them to assisted living or nursing care, allowing for predictability of retirement costs.


Although the independent living apartments and garden homes have full kitchens, residents can also take advantage of two on-site restaurants. Other amenities include a fitness center, a heated indoor pool, a beauty salon, a library and an on-site chapel.

Dewey says people opt for CCRCs because they like the predictability of costs. “You really won’t outlive your money,” she says.

For those who opt to live in the rolling hills of north Louisiana, The Oaks of Louisiana in Shreveport could be just the ticket. At the Oaks, also a CCRC, people pay a community fee when they enter and then a monthly rental fee.

This continuity of care is one of the primary reasons people choose The Oaks, says spokeswoman Terry Roberts. They also like the 24/7 security and peace of mind that comes with living in a gated community, as well as the off-campus trips and many activities. One of the most popular features is the University of the Oaks, which features professors and others leading classes on subjects like “Louisiana’s Bad Boys” – a look at rascals like Huey P. Long. Although there is plenty to do on The Oaks’ 312-acre campus, residents are also close to all that Shreveport/Bossier City offers.
 

Planned Communities
 

When the England Air Force Base in Alexandria closed, the two- and three-bedroom houses were refurbished and restored, and the result is England Oaks Adult Living Community, an independent living community for those 55 and older.

This style of living appeals to a lot of people, sales manager Nadja Winn says. When she first began working at England Oaks, most of the people moving in were in the 80- to 83-year-old range; now, the average age is 67.

People like the ease of renting, Winn says; the community has no homeowner fees, buy-ins, etc. The monthly cost includes interior and exterior maintenance, so residents can travel without worrying about their homes.

They also enjoy living in a neighborhood of private, one-story homes on oak-lined streets. Oakwing Golf Club is nearby, along with all the educational, entertainment and medical services Alexandria has to offer. England Oaks is also close to the Learning Center of Rapides Parish, with its myriad of classes.
The Village of River Ranch in the heart of Lafayette is also a planned community, open to residents of all ages but with lots of the perks those 55 and older enjoy. Each neighborhood has its own flavor, and homes of all sizes are available as well as two apartment complexes. All residents can enjoy the restaurants and shops at the Town Center. Residents pay a monthly homeowners’ association fee.

For those who aren’t comfortable driving, there are lots of places within walking distance, and you can use a golf cart to get around as well. Parks and bike paths provide lots of green space.

The Village of River Ranch is part of a movement called “New Urbanism,” which promotes neighborhood life through features such as front porches and walkable streets. Another boon is the wide variety of recreational and medical services available in Lafayette, often referred to as the capital city of Cajun Country.


Easy Living near the Big Easy

Those who seek a sizable community with lots to offer might choose to live at Christwood Retirement Community in Covington. The CCRC has 161 independent living residences, 34 assisted living residents and 30 spots in skilled nursing.

The overwhelming majority are looking for an independent lifestyle, says spokeswoman Elizabeth Jackson. Christwood has a menu of more than 100 services and amenities, including a library, informative programs and off-site trips. Residents can enjoy a changing display of local art in The Atrium Gallery or take advantage of the well-landscaped grounds and the fitness center.

People like the fact that they can travel without worrying about making sure someone back home is cutting the grass or watering their flowerbeds, Jackson says. They also like having choices; Christwood offers 17 floorplans and units with one, two or three bedrooms.  


Tips for Enjoying North Louisiana

With its piney woods, rolling hills and beautiful lakes, just about anything you can do outside, you can enjoy in North Louisiana. A good starting place is Lake Bistineau State Park, on the western shore of the lake. Features include two boat launches, hiking and bicycle trails, and lots and lots of fishing spots. Other state parks in the region include Lake Claiborne, Lake D’Arbonne, Lake Bruin, Jimmie Davis and North Toledo Bend.

North Louisiana is a unique mixture; in its music, food and fun, you’ll find a tad of Texas culture in some areas along with Cajun culture. That mix is reflected in the musical acts that play in the region, with talent like the Oakridge Boys sharing the spotlight with Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.
One of the prettiest performing arts venues you’ll ever see is the Strand Theatre in Shreveport. Built in 1925 as an opera house, the venue became a movie theatre, closing in the 1970s. It reopened in 1984, restored to its former glory, and is now the “Official State Theatre of Louisiana.”

In the Shreveport/Bossier City area, try your luck at one of the six riverboat casinos, or watch the horses run at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. At Bossier City’s Louisiana Boardwalk, you can catch a movie, enjoy a restaurant meal and – most important – save big at the dozens of outlet shops.

You’ll find lots to see and learn in North Louisiana’s small towns. Visit the Minden Cemetery to see soldiers’ graves dating back to Civil War battles, or tour the Germantown Colony & Museum to hear the strange tale of a colony founded in 1835 by idealists seeking a utopia on earth.

Get ready to revel. North Louisiana throws lots of fairs and festivals. Sample the best peach pies ever at Ruston’s Peach Festival, or celebrate the region’s forestry heritage at the Springhill Lumberjack Festival. Don’t miss one of the biggies: the Red Revel Arts Festival, which brings Shreveport’s riverfront to life for eight days of food, music and art.

Two very different historic sites can be seen in North Louisiana. Poverty Point contains earthen mounds and barriers built by those who inhabited the area between 1700 and 1100 B.C. Learn about Civil War battles fought in Louisiana at the Mansfield State Historic Site.

Science comes alive for kids and adults alike at Sci-Port, Louisiana’s science center in Shreveport. The center has hundreds of interactive science activities, an IMAX Theater and a planetarium.

North Louisiana has gardens galore, including Hodges Gardens State Park in Florien, with 70 acres of formal plantings; the American Rose Center in Shreveport, with more than 20,000 rose bushes; Briarwood, the home of naturalist Caroline Dorman in Saline, which features Louisiana iris and other native plants; and the ELsong Garden & Conservatory in Monroe, site of the Biedenharn Home (first Coca-Cola bottler).

North Louisiana’s towns are home to fascinating museums. In Tallulah, tour the Hermoine House, a completely restored antebellum mansion with an exhibit on Madame C.J. Walker, a daughter of former slaves who become the country’s first female millionaire. Other spots of interest include the Bernice Depot Museum in Bernice, the Herbert S. Ford Museum in Homer, which tells the story of hill country life; and the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe.


Top 10 Tips for Enjoying Central Louisiana

History permeates Central Louisiana, nicknamed “Crossroads” because of its location in the middle of the state. You can learn about all aspects of plantation life, including both planters and slaves, at such house museums as Magnolia Plantation Complex, Oakland Plantation, Melrose Plantation and Kent House Plantation. At Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins, visitors can pick cotton and see how it was ginned, then tour a modern 1,800-acre cotton plantation.

Ferriday is the birthplace of a trio of cousins who became famous singers: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart (who first made his name singing gospel). Learn about their colorful careers at the Delta Music Museum & Arcade Theater.

Most small towns in Central Louisiana celebrate their cuisine and cultural at a festival. Some to sample are the Louisiana Pecan Festival in Colfax, the Corn Festival in Bunkie, the Beauregard Watermelon Festival in DeRidder, the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta and Robeline’s Heritage Festival.

The city of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, is justly famous for its well-preserved Historic District. The city is illuminated throughout December for a holiday lights festival, and many old homes are open for tours. And don’t forget to sample one of Natchitoches’ delicious meat pies – seasoned beef and/or pork baked inside a flaky crust.

Museums in Central Louisiana feature all kinds of special collections. At the Beauregard Parish Museum in DeRidder, you’ll be amazed at the more than 3,000 dolls displayed in the Lois Loftin Doll Museum. Other sites of interest are the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum in Pineville, the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame in Winnfield and the Adai Indian Nation Cultural Center in Robeline. Collections at the Alexandria Museum of Art include ceramics, collages, drawings and paintings.

There’s plenty to amuse the kids and grandkids in Central Louisiana. The T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum in Alexandria has lots of hands-on exhibits. And don’t miss the Natchitoches Alligator Park, open weekends August through October. If its outdoor amusement your family wants, visit North and South Toledo Bend State Parks, with camping, hiking, swimming and fishing facilities.


Tips for Enjoying the Baton Rouge Area

Louisiana, has two capitol buildings. The Old State Capitol, built in 1847 in a Gothic Revival style with turrets, now houses the Museum of Political History. The present Louisiana State Capitol, which opened in 1932, is an Art Deco building surrounded by lovely gardens. Famed politician Huey P. Long was assassinated in this building.

The Shaw Center for The Arts in downtown Baton Rouge is a venue for the performing and visual arts and several nonprofits. You can catch a show at The Manship Theatre, tour the LSU Museum of Arts or grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants.

Planters were attracted to the rich soil along the Mississippi River and built grand homes. Their lavish lifestyle was sustained by the cotton, sugar cane and indigo they grew and by the slaves who did all the work. A number of these plantations still stand; one of the most interesting in Laura. Dating back to 1804, Laura’s property includes four of the plantation’s original slave cabins, and visitors can see what life was like for both owners and slaves. Some nearby plantations also serve as bed-and-breakfast inns.

Louisiana loves football, and there’s no better place to catch a game than in LSU’s Tiger Stadium, nicknamed “Death Valley” by opponents. If you’re in town during the season and can luck in to tickets, don’t pass up the chance to join more than 100,000 spirited fans – the place rocks.

Include the kids in your Baton Rouge visit. They’ll enjoy Blue Bayou waterpark and Dixie Landin’ amusement park, as well as a visit to the USS Kidd, a World War II naval destroyer.

If you need it or want it, you can probably find it at the Mall of Louisiana. You can take a break in the food court or in one of the shopping center’s restaurants. There's also an antique carousel.

Two of the most charming cities in the Baton Rouge area are St. Francisville and New Roads. St. Francisville has a number of lovely historic buildings and churches; in New Roads, fish the False River (which is really an ox-bow lake) for bass, catfish and bream.

If you like your recreation on the rugged side, visit Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area, near the state’s border with Mississippi. Available activities include hunting, trapping, hiking, horseback riding and tent camping.

Like the other regions of Louisiana, the Baton Rouge area is host to a multitude of festivals – take your pick from such good times as the Sugar Fest, Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Kite Fest and the big Bayou Country Superfest, just to name a few.

It’s not often that you can attend a rodeo at a prison. For more than 50 years, inmates at Angola Penitentiary have taken part in the Angola Prison Rodeo. You’ll see bareback horse riding, bull-dogging and bull riding, and the money the event earns helps pay for educational and recreational supplies for the inmates. The penitentiary itself is not open for tours, but there is a nearby museum.


Tips for Enjoying the New Orleans Region

One of the country’s most fascinating cities, New Orleans is a rich blend of old and new. When it comes to museums, stalwarts like the New Orleans Museum of Art share the stage with newer spots like the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Home-and-garden museums like the Hermann-Grima House and Longue Vue House and Gardens show life in bygone eras, and the ever-growing National World War II Museum will move veterans and youngsters alike.

In New Orleans, people don’t consider eating an ordinary event; instead, people discuss meals of the past, what they’re eating today and – most importantly – where they’ll eat tomorrow. Whether you want Uptown fine dining (Gautreau’s, Clancy’s), French Quarter elegance (Restaurant R’evolution in the Royal Sonesta Hotel), or a quick-and-easy sandwich (Parkway Tavern poboys, Central Grocery muffulettas), you’ll find it here, along with everything in between.

If shopping is on your list of must-do’s, check out The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, where you’ll find almost 75 outlet stores like Neiman Marcus Last Call and Coach. Across Canal Street is The Shops at Canal Place, with lux stores like Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Don’t skip Magazine Street, with its miles of unique boutiques and vintage stores, or the elegant antiques shops in the French Quarter.

Mardi Gras is one of the city's biggest attractions, but if your plans bring you to town at other times of the year, you can still get in the spirit by visiting Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World or touring the Mardi Gras exhibit at the Presbytere Museum at Jackson Square. In the spring, people from all over the world come to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Summer brings Essence Festival and Satchmo SummerFest, and the Voodoo Music Experience lights up the fall.

A number of colleges and universities call New Orleans home, including Xavier University, a historically black college that ranks first in the country in the number of African-American graduates who go on to finish medical school. Tulane and Loyola universities have beautiful Uptown campuses; if you visit them, you might include the Milton Latter Memorial Library nearby on St. Charles Avenue. (Few public library systems have a branch in a 1907-era mansion.)

Life is a little less hectic across the Causeway Bridge, which leads to an area called the North Shore. You’ll find charming small towns like Covington and Ponchatoula, plus places to enjoy delicious seafood.

You can also cross the Mississippi River and visit Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve’s Barataria Preserve in Marrero. Keep an eye out for alligator as you take in the bayous, marshes and swamps.

You can enjoy the outdoors right in New Orleans, too. Both Audubon Park and City Park are favorites with locals and tourists alike, and Woldenberg Park is a great place to view the mighty Mississippi.

There is no lack of attractions for smaller fry, including the first-class Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Children might like riding the St. Charles Avenue streetcar for a few blocks, visiting one of the city’s popular sno-ball shops, or blowing the powdered sugar off of a beignet while the adults sip café au lait at Café du Monde.

New Orleans is made up of several distinct neighborhoods The best known is the French Quarter, filled with historic buildings that reflect its time under Spanish and French dominion. The Garden District is filled with lavish mansions. St. Charles Avenue, which runs from the Central Business District to Carrollton Avenue, is lined with beautiful homes (some of which now house businesses.) Other notable neighborhoods are the Warehouse District, the Irish Channel, Mid-City, Carrollton and Gentilly. Visitors interested in historic homes will have their pick of eras from which to choose.


Tips for Enjoying Central Louisiana

History is alive in Central Louisiana, nicknamed “Crossroads” because of its location in the middle of the state. You can learn about all aspects of plantation life at such house museums as Magnolia Plantation Complex, Oakland Plantation, Melrose Plantation and Kent House Plantation. At Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins, visitors can pick cotton and see how it was ginned, then tour a modern cotton plantation.

Ferriday is the birthplace of a trio of cousins who became famous singers: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart (who first made his name singing gospel). Learn about their colorful careers at the Delta Music Museum & Arcade Theater.

Most small towns in Central Louisiana celebrate their cuisine and cultural at a festival. Some to sample are the Louisiana Pecan Festival in Colfax, the Corn Festival in Bunkie, the Beauregard Watermelon Festival in DeRidder, the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta and Robeline’s Heritage Festival.

The city of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, is known for its Historic District. The city is illuminated throughout December for a holiday lights festival.

Museums in Central Louisiana feature all kinds of special collections. At the Beauregard Parish Museum in DeRidder, you’ll be amazed at the more than 3,000 dolls displayed in the Lois Loftin Doll Museum. Other sites of interest are the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum in Pineville, the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame in Winnfield and the Adai Indian Nation Cultural Center in Robeline. Collections at the Alexandria Museum of Art include ceramics, collages, drawings and paintings, all in an impressive building.

There’s plenty to amuse the kids and grandkids in Central Louisiana. The T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum in Alexandria has lots of hands-on exhibits. If its outdoor amusement your family wants, visit North and South Toledo Bend State Parks, where you will find camping, hiking, swimming and fishing facilities.

If golf’s your game, you’ll love Louisiana’s Audubon Golf Trail. Try Oakwing, in Alexandria, where you can enjoy playing amidst the beautiful lakes and bayous.

Flowers of every color and fragrance await you at Central Louisiana’s gardens. Hodges Gardens State Park, in Florien, is filled with 950 acres of both cultivated and natural flower gardens; it’s especially lovely during camellia season. At 28 miles, the Wild Azalea Trail in Kisatchie National Forest is the longest hiking trail in the state. Hit the trail in March or April to get the best views of the Wild Azaleas for which the trail is named.

Civil War buffs can find pockets of history on the conflict scattered around the state. At the Fort Randolph & Fort Buhlow State Historic Site, on the Red River in Pineville, you can learn about the Civil War’s Red River Campaign and see battle re-enactments in the open field. The Alexandria National Cemetery was opened in 1867 for burial of Union soldiers who died in Central Louisiana.


 

 

 

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