Reasons Why Shaker Heights Is a Great Place to Age in Place
What are a few of the things that make Shaker Heights such a great place for seniors to “Age in Place”?
When I moved my family back to Shaker Heights 10 years ago to open our first Right at Home Senior Care office, I was thrilled with what we rediscovered in our community. I say rediscovered because my in-laws have been living in Shaker for more than 50 years and my wife got a great education at Shaker High School, Class of ‘85. Go Raiders!
I don’t want my family’s positive experiences to be the only voices heard in this blog, so I also interviewed 15 seniors, caregivers, and clients in Shaker to get a more diverse set of thoughts. They chose to remain anonymous, but I know who they are, and appreciate them sharing their opinions with me so freely. Again, like us, they were very positive overall. No surprise. Oh, please don’t call me out for including some faves from the nearby area.
Right out the gate, we should highlight the fact that Shaker Heights is a very walkable city. No matter where you live, you’re going to find that the places you need to go are likely at your doorstep. And it is a safe city, low on crime, with fire and police professionals typically responding within three minutes of being summoned. You can’t beat that.
However, not all of our older neighbors are super mobile, or ride bikes. You will be pleased to discover that the Senior Transportation Connection shuttles are subsidized here. In addition, RTA runs accessible buses and Rapid Transit trains.
A request I heard: When the Lee Road corridor gets upgraded with additional green space and parks, could there be more bike paths?
We boast the world famous Cleveland Clinic and UH Hospital systems, Metro Hospital’s trauma center by Severance Center, and more specialists than you can fit in the medical office buildings around the Van Aken shopping district.
I think it's awesome that Saffron Patch is right here as is Brassica, Northstar Cafe, Wendy’s, Cilantro, Zanzibar, Batuqui, Upper Crust, J Pistone, and Mendel's KC Kosher BBQ! Edwin’s, in nearby Shaker Square, offers an upscale French Fusion dining experience and is mission driven to help ex-cons turn over a new leaf and learn marketable skills. There's something to tantalize every taste bud. And Heinen’s market delivers. So much deliciousness; and that's just a few of the tasty morsels to be had near our 9 neighborhoods.
Of the 30,000 residents in Shaker, approximately 1/2 are white, 1/3 are African-American, and the rest are varied, with about 20% born abroad. Recently, the Shaker Senior Center celebrated luncheons for Martin Luther King Day, as well as Mardi Gras. This shows that our community isn't just becoming more diverse; we are celebrating diversity. A quick look at the activities of the Shaker Arts Council, the Shaker Historical Society, Contessa or Heights Art galleries or on the stages of Shaker HS and Dobama theater or at the renovated Maltz concert hall as well as the convenience to the University Circle institutions will give you a taste of our diverse arts and culture in and near our ‘burb.’ A fabulous senior services club that puts together fun cultural activities for diverse seniors is Village in the Heights-check ‘em out.
Here’s my top ten area activities to get your Shaker is for Seniors juices flowing: Pickleball at the Cleveland Skating Club, paddle tennis at Shaker Heights CC, bocce at Pinstripes, swimming at Thornton Aquatic, birdwatching or hiking at the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, Tai-Chi or chair aerobics at the Shaker Heights Library, steeping out at the Urban Dance Collab or digging in at the Village Garden Club. Shaker is, “Both far enough from the lake and yet close enough, if you get my drift,” according to one opinionated senior, who detests lake effect snow.
So much engaging programing is going on at the Shaker Senior Center. You can stop into the Stephanie Tubbs Jones center for a Wednesday afternoon free movie and pick up the list of all the activities which includes everything from crafting and card games to barbecues and bake offs. It’s lovely to see Mayor Weiss showing up, getting engaged with the community, and lending a hand when needed.
There is something here for every style and budget from the Van Sweringen mansion on South Park to the average apartment that rents for $1500/mo. There are quite a few upscale new apartments and townhomes going up near Van Aken. The Woodlands of Shaker Assisted Living has been providing top-notch, assisted living in a small community setting for decades. Meanwhile, just down the street the new Harbor Chase Assisted Living community looks to be a winner.
There are multiple programs to choose from at CWRU-Siegel lifelong learning classes. Heights Christian Church has a mix of different classes and Bible studies on Sunday mornings as do many of the other houses of worship. Thinking about heading back to college or learning something new? Tri-C, Cleveland State and John Carol Universities are just up the street if you want to audit a class or earn a degree. University School is always looking for tutors in different subjects for their boys.
The Main Branch and Bertram Woods Libraries are independent and fabulous. My Mother in Law worked at the circulation desk for 20 years and enjoyed leading the knitting club. Looking to keep that title? Step into Loganberry Books on Larchmere and you’ll find yourself in one of the best independent bookstores in the country.
According to the Heights Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of businesses, both large and small, have made Shaker their home. Recently, I have experienced good service at our local Rite Aid Pharmacy, Key Bank, Ace Hardware, and Shaker Quality Auto Body, likely because they’re looking after their employees. One of the more satisfying volunteering experiences I had was packing for Meals on Wheels on a Monday morning at the Unitarian Church. They’re always looking for volunteers and drivers who will adopt a delivery route. Good times helping out.
Good city services
Shaker even runs trash carts that will empty your cans in your back yard instead of having to haul them down to the curb each week. I also like how they maintain the pipes and parks, fill potholes, and clear sidewalk snow with the “bombadier.” Did you know that seniors can request a free CO2 detector from the city?
I served in our Navy and Marine Corps all over the country for 15 years, and I don’t take any of these features for granted. Overall I’d say this lovely suburb is about as good as it gets for seniors. But don’t take my word for it, come see for yourself.