By Leticia Elizondo / Photos By Ivan Xavier Ramirez
For over twenty-five years the Golden Palms Retirement & Health Care Center has been setting the standard of service and care for the post-retirement community in the Rio Grande Valley. Centrally located in Harlingen, the Golden Palms has come a long way in its twenty-five years. Offering short-term rehab, assisted living as well as independent living means greater flexibility for Valley residents at different stages of life. With 99 independent living apartments and 38 assisted living facilities at over 80% occupancy, Golden Palms draws residents from the northern valley as well as seniors throughout the country from states like Minnesota and Missouri.
Golden Palms Director Jeffery Richardson of Wisconsin has been in the business for over fifteen years. His career in geriatric care began in Colorado before eventually relocating his family to South Texas to serve as director for Golden Palms. “A lot of the same issues exist here as up north, the needs of our seniors are the same no matter where you go. Every retirement center needs three things: good security, good food, and good programs.” he explains.
Walking through the residence halls there’s a faint scent of fresh paint and refinished wood. During a time when many businesses are cutting back to stay afloat, the Golden Palms seems to have chosen an alternate road. Updating rooms, rebuilding to suit the needs of potential residents, it’s what sets Golden Palms apart. With a recent 11.1% slash to Medicare by the federal government, many health care facilities are not expected to withstand the cost cutting measures, ensuring only the strong survive.
The healthcare professionals at Golden Palms understand that an active lifestyle is key to maintaining mobility and independence, encouraging residents to take advantage of the facility’s fitness center, heated swimming pool and Zumba classes. Residents can be seen making their way to various activities held throughout the day, gone are the days of endless bingo. For residents with limited access to transportation, the facility provides many opportunities to get around town. Shopping excursions are popular as well as trips to the movies and South Padre Island.
Perhaps deservingly, it seems that retirement facility food has earned a bad reputation. Mr. Richardson is quick to assure this is not the case at Golden Palms “we only hire the best professional chefs” he explains. With entrees like grilled beef tenderloin and baked tilapia there’s little room for doubt to his claim.
With the baby boomer generation on the verge of entering retirement, Richardson has already begun to notice changes in the retirement community. Technological advances have not been overlooked by the seniors. Tech-savvy seniors take advantage of Golden Palms Wi-Fi to navigate their iPads and Wii consoles. Residents enjoy having a voice at Golden Palms. Each floor of the facility holds its own residency meetings which are guided by one senior floor leader. Residents are able to voice concerns and provide suggestions. The senior leaders then report directly to Mr. Richardson. Some of the facilities most impressive assets, such as the full service beauty salon, have been created as a result of these meetings.
As the Rio Grande Valley continues to grow, so will the demand for high capacity luxury facilities like Golden Palms. Undoubtedly many will come and go, but as Golden Palms has proven time and again, care and substance outweighs all.