Senior Living in Anacortes: When Is an Island not an Island?

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Donna Mae Scheib

Senior Living in Anacortes: When Is an Island not an Island?

Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on July 09, 2019

Senior Living in Anacortes:  When Is an Island not an Island?

Overview

Anacortes is a small town (population 16,000) in western Washington state, located on Fidalgo Island in Puget Sound. It is about 60 miles north of Seattle, and   It is a hub for Washington State Ferries to the San Juan Islands, Victoria, BC, Canada (via Sidney, BC), and Guemes Island, a small island community located north of Anacortes.  If boating, living on the water, or enjoying a maritime lifestyle is for you, Anacortes is the place to be!  It is attached to the mainland by bridges, perfect for island living without the hassle of getting to and fro without your own boat.  If you own a boat, 6 marinas await you with over 2000 boat slips should you need a place to dock.

The City of Anacortes owns over 3000 acres of forestlands and city-owned parks, and five freshwater lakes, Campbell, Cranberry, Heart, Lake Erie, and Whistler, are in or near city limits.

A Great Place to Live

The Anacortes area has many easy walking and biking trails in or near the city.  Washington Park is the largest of the city parks at 200 acres, with a boat launch, campsites, trails, and picnic grounds near the water.  Anacortes Community Forest Lands hold 50 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and Mount Erie Park features rock climbing views for the adventurous at any age.  Anacortes is the West Coast end of coast-to-coast Adventure Cycling Association long-distance biking, and the Oyster Run is one of the largest motorcycle rallies held in the Pacific Northwest.  The Anacortes Fitness Center has an Olympic-size pool; perfect for that refreshing swim. 

Anacortes has four sister cities.  Nikah City, in Akita Prefecture, Japan is also invested in commercial fishing and agriculture and has many parks within its city. Lomonosov, Russia is located on the Gulf of Finland and was also the home of the composer Igor Stravinsky. Sidney, B.C., Canada is the only Canadian port-of-call in the Washington State Ferries system, at the other end of the International Run, the parallel gateway to the Canadian Gulf Islands.  Vela Luka, Croatia is a harbor city on the western side of an island.  Anacortes is also home to a dance troupe, the Vela Luka Croatian Dancers. 

Fun Events

The Waterfront Festival features boat building competitions, an open-air car show, free yacht rides, children’s activities galore, arts and crafts, food booths, live music, and entertainment.  It is usually held in June.

The Shipwreck Fest is a giant garage sale, organized as a fundraiser by the Fidalgo Island Rotary Club.  Nearly 200 vendors set up booths, including a flea market, food, antiques, flotsam, and jetsam – just like fishermen years ago who sold their treasures along Commercial Avenue.  It is held on one day every year in July.

Numerous gallery walks and quilt shows are held throughout the year.  The Anacortes Art Festival, usually in August, features fine art, arts and crafts, posters, community theatre, buskers, dance, and everything in between.  Skagit Valley has a thriving arts community, with a myriad of events throughout the year.

Who’s Who in Anacortes

Folksinger and actor Burl Ives lived in Anacortes until his death at age 85.  His television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a holiday classic.

Jake Anderson, the skipper on the reality TV show Deadliest Catch, was born in Anacortes.

Author Richard Bach, who wrote best-sellers including Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions, One:  A Novel, and many others.

Representative Duane Berentson, member of the Washington House of Representatives from 1962-1980, was born in Anacortes.

Animator Craig Bartlett, who created Nickelodeon cartoons, Hey Arnold! and Dinosaur Train.

Olympic Gold Medalist in Rowing in 1936 Donald Hume.

Rien Long, former defensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans.

Charley Schanz, former Major League pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

James K. Okubo, posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroism in World War II.

William C. McCool, the pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia, killed when it disintegrated during re-entry in 2003

History

Fidalgo Island was the ancestral home of the Samish and Swinomish people for thousands of years, part of the Coast Salish tribes.  They built longhouses of the plentiful old growth cedar and Douglas fir trees, harvesting shellfish and salmon, and living off the bountiful land and teeming waters.  Early pioneers named their area Ship Island, clearing areas for farming.  When railroad surveyor Amos Bowman founded a permanent settlement in 1879, he named it for his wife, Anna Curtis Bowman.  Lumber harvested from mammoth forests fueled the mills and built the town, later canneries and fish processors lined the shore.  The area is now home to two major refineries, fish processors, boat builders, agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, and hospitality.

Anacortes Senior Center

The Anacortes Senior Activity Center has a variety of activities available.  Fitness enthusiasts can choose from a variety of activities including low-impact exercise, indoor walking, yoga, line dancing, strength and balance, T’ai Chi, and hiking. Help with home repair, insurance benefits, taxes, and even haircuts are offered. Online computer classes are self-paced and cover everything from computer basics to Internet safety.  Artists in all media have opportunities for expression, as do musicians.  Artists Northwest meets regularly each month, and various members share experiences and knowledge, as well as developing skills in a wide variety of media.   A full curriculum of art classes is offered through the Claire Lemberg Arts and Crafts program, including digital photography, weaving, watercolor and acrylics, drawing, mosaic and stained glass, sewing, basket weaving, perspective, knitting, and art appreciation.  The Anacortes Senior College offers courses on a variety of topics including maritime history, political science, investment strategies, the biology of insects, language, health topics, exercise, and brain efficiency.  The Skyline Garden Club, the Skagit Valley Genealogy Society, and various support groups also meet at the Senior Center. People also can volunteer at the Senior Center, through the Salvation Army, local food banks, and in schools.    An Aging Mastery program developed by the National Council on Aging covers a variety of topics including medication management, exercise, sleep, nutrition, finances, healthy relationships, fall prevention, and community engagement.   Health aids such as foot care, hearing and low-vision support, blood pressure checks, dental hygiene, and chair massage are offered regularly.  Games and entertainment include canasta, pool, cribbage, bridge, volleyball, and Scrabble.  As in many other senior centers, daily meals are offered at a reduced rate, and Meals on Wheels are a welcome service for seniors who are housebound.

Options for Senior Living

People living in their own homes can take advantage of home health caregivers as they need them while living independently in their own homes.  Medical facilities include Island Hospital/Anacortes Family Medicine, as well as the nearby Skagit Regional Health complex in Mount Vernon.  Air ambulance flights to Harborview in Seattle are available, should the worst happen. 

Private services such as Visiting Angels, Islands Home Health, ResCare, and Home Instead Senior Care, as well as public agencies such as Home and Community Services and the Northwest Washington Area Agency on Aging,  can provide services ranging from help with everyday chores to detailed medication support.  Several different living options are in Anacortes, including Cap Sante Court Retirement Community, Chandler’s Square Retirement Community, and Rosario Assisted Living, as well as low-income apartments Anacortes Manor and Bayview Apartments. 

Cap Sante Court Retirement Community is an independent living facility in Anacortes, with many amenities such as a library, exercise room, dining area, and salon.  The facility is within walking distance of coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping areas.    It features one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as private and semi-private rooms when more care is needed. The grounds are fully landscaped with plants that grow well in the mild marine climate.

Chandler’s Square Retirement Community is an assisted living facility with personal transportation to doctor’s appointments and other activities.  Multiple options are offered, from independent living to assisted living and respite care.  Residents can participate in activities as much or as little as they are able to and would like.  Apartments are around a central floor plan so that people can dine together if they wish.

Rosario Assisted Living and Fidalgo Rehabilitative Services are co-located on the same property.  Rosario Assisted Living is the permanent assisted living portion and Fidalgo Rehabilitative Services, the skilled nursing facility with 24-hour care, as well as short-term rehabilitation after an accident, illness, or injury.  San Juan Assisted Living is just 6 blocks away, owned by the same family. 

Anacortes Manor and Bayview Apartments offer low-income options for families and seniors.  Anacortes Manor has 35 units and is project-based Section 8 with HUD.   Bayview Apartments are subsidized and part of Anacortes Housing Authority listings. 

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