The residents at Oak Hammock take academic classes, workout in a 20,000-square-ft. gym and are active volunteers in the Gainesville community. No, they’re not college students — the residents are primarily seniors whose ages range from 60 to 90, according to Star Bradbury, the Oak Hammock director of sales and marketing. “We’d like Gainesville to know about this jewel of a community, tucked away in the woods,” Bradbury said. Oak Hammock began when University of Florida alumni and faculty members proposed an idea to bring other alumni back to Gainesville and encourage retirees to stay in the community, Bradbury said. Oak Hammock has 269 independent living residences: 200 apartments, and 69 club homes and villas on 136 beautiful acres, located in Southwest Gainesville. Although UF alumni made up many of the initial residents, an affiliation with the university is not required for prospective residents to live there.

The community challenges traditional notions of retirement with extensive learning and physical fitness opportunities. Included in their monthly fee, residents can enjoy expanding their education through the Institute for Lifelong Learning in Retirement. The ILR offers a diverse range of courses taught on site, such as a Shakespeare seminar. “We all want to keep learning, even as we get older,” Jeff Hagen, Oak Hammock’s CEO, said. The facility also provides transportation to residents who wish to expand their academic scope beyond the classes taught on site. This fall, one resident is taking advanced German literature at UF, according to Bradbury. “These are people with a history of wanting to learn and wanting to stay mentally involved and interested,” she said.

Oak Hammock also provides transportation to residents who may wish to go to Gator games, the performing arts center or any spot downtown, so they do not have to worry about parking.

In addition to an art studio, residents can channel their creative abilities into other forms of expression, such as the stained glass studio or the on-site woodworking shop.

The 20,000-square-foot gym boasts state-of-the-art equipment, a studio, a 50-foot indoor aerobic pool and a 75-foot lap pool outdoors. Tai chi, water aerobics, pilates and total body workout classes make up just a sliver of the classes residents can take to stay in shape.

While a diverse workout regimen and well-rounded education keep residents engaged mentally and physically, interest groups help the residents foster relationships with one another — Oak Hammock offers more than 30 different clubs to appeal to all interests. Residents can join a travel club, volunteer club, or book club to socialize and stay engaged.

The camaraderie, social opportunities and active lifestyle attract new residents to the Oak Hammock community. As residents age, they are guaranteed additional care, should they need it. This way, residents do not have to worry about leaving their Oak Hammock family or finding healthcare elsewhere.

“We offer what’s called a Life Care Contract, where we promise them should they need a higher level of care as they age, that it will be provided for them,” Bradbury said. “We provide a peace-of-mind level of care for our members.” Thanks to a recent expansion on the skilled nursing and assisted living units completed in July 2016, these physical therapy and rehabilitation services are available to the public. The University of Florida provides the healthcare services at Oak Hammock through UF Health Shands.

To schedule a visit or find out more information, call 352-548-1000 or visit oakhammock.org.

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