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Independence at any age

Looking for a new place to live? Want to maintain your independence? Hoping to find a community that offers variety of amenities and fun activities without a long and pricey contract? Looking for quality, security, comfort and maintenance-free living? Then Arabella Manor in Alexandria is the perfect spot for you.

Mariah Hanson, executive director, and Ellis L., a tenant, at Arabella Manor. Photo by Katie Erdman.

Arabella Manor is a 55 and better independent living community located in a picturesque and quiet neighborhood in the northeast corner of Alexandria.

“We cater to active individuals who desire a worry-free lifestyle with comfort, space, safety and conveniences as top priorities,” said Mariah Hanson, executive director at Arabella Manor.

The private facility has 72 apartments (in two complexes), with seven different floor plans, ranging in size from approximately 753 to 1,504 square feet. Tenants can choose from one or two-bedroom layouts, each featuring a large kitchen with a breakfast bar, a spacious living room area, bay windows and individually controlled central air conditioning and heating. Each unit has a washer and dryer hookup. Garages and raised garden plots are available as added amenities.

Tenants can rent apartments on a month-to-month basis instead of through a long contract, which gives tenants more control and flexibility. It also makes Arabella Manor a good choice for those looking for temporary housing during a transition period (for example, the time after selling one’s home and looking for another one).

Each tenant can tailor the apartment to suit the tenant’s personal style.

“They can select their own paint colors, add window treatments and even convert a bedroom to a den or office,” said Hanson. “And our building and apartments were designed to allow seniors to age in place, with wider hallways, hand rails, grab bars and much more.”

A group of tenants gather for a photo with Mary Rodel, administrative enrichment coordinator (back left). They include (front, L to R) Don K., Mary K., Lucy (puppy) and Doris K.; (back L to R) Mary Rodel, Betty H., Evelyn G., Gail R. and Dolores L. Photo by Katie Erdman

Maintaining independence is one reason many tenants choose Arabella Manor. It is one feature that really separates it from many other senior living options. Their eldest tenant being 99 years young!

“Instead of having a long list of services that are included in the cost of living, tenants have the choice to bring in whatever outside services they want. Tenants can bring them in only when they decide necessary,” said Hanson. “We are similar to a concierge service. Some tenants have nurses come in to administer and prepare medications. Some opt to purchase catered meals from the Corral Saloon & Eatery in Nelson or get Meals on Wheels. Some may request regular visits from a home health nurse, while others may have groceries delivered right to their door.”

Bringing an independent living facility to Alexandria was the idea of Joni M. Neal, president and proprietor, who opened Arabella for tenants in 2005.

“I was influenced by my grandmother,” said Neal. “She lived in a community in North Dakota, and her only options there were to stay at home or go to a nursing home. Even though she has now passed, I wanted to create a choice-filled, in-between step from living alone at home to nursing home care. I think congregate living is a perfect way for people who may be living in isolated situations to come to an environment that is full of life, friends, amenities and activities to enhance their lives. Socialization is so important, and I really believe it helps people live a longer and happier life.”

Some of the amenities at Arabella Manor include an exercise room, a beauty shop and a long list of activities, ranging from happy hour, Bible group, potlucks, bingo, exercise, movies, informational and educational speakers, ice cream socials and (of course) daily coffee/fellowship times.

“We also have church services, birthday and holiday parties, foot care/blood pressure clinics, casino trips and special music,” said Mary Rodel, administrative enrichment coordinator. Rodel leads many of the activities and also takes care of of the administrative tasks at Arabella Manor. “The tenants schedule their own card games and dice games, and everyone is welcome to join them. My favorite events are the birthday parties and holiday parties.”

There is a bulletin board in the commons area so people know what is coming up both at Arabella Manor and in the community. If they do not have a vehicle, Rainbow Rider is available to pick people up and bring them back.

Arabella is located in the northeast corner of Alexandria and is often visited by ducks, deer and geese. Contributed photo

There are a lot of things to do at Arabella Manor, and many tenants participate in the fun. “The tenants recently played The Price is Right,” said Neal. “We had a great time. It was wonderful to see everyone having so much fun.”

And there is also a list of activities that the tenants gladly choose not to participate in… “They do not have to shovel snow, mow lawn or upkeep the facility at all,” said Hanson. “So on the hottest, coldest and snowiest days of the year, they can just sit back and relax. We take care of it.”

And the Arabella staff is there to help tenants in the apartments, too.

“There are lots of nice people here,” said Reuben J., a tenant. “I don’t have to replace a light bulb or furnace filter or worry about batteries in smoke alarms. They take care of everything.”

Reuben J., 90, and his wife, Evelyn J., 88, have lived at Arabella for two and a half years. The couple has two daughters, four grandsons, three great grandchildren and love it when they come to visit. On June 11, they will have been married 68 years.

“It feels just like home here,” said Evelyn.

Evelyn and Reuben both enjoy the potlucks held the last Thursday of the month, as well as the monthly birthday celebrations. Reuben joins many other tenants in watching the geese in the spring and predicting how many baby goslings will hatch.

“We are visited by ducks, deer and geese on a regular basis,” said Hanson.

Gail R. has lived at Arabella Manor for five months. She previously lived on a farm, so she was nervous about the adjustment She feels that the people at Arabella made the transition very easy for her. She likes the convenience of being able to do her laundry, bring out her garbage and get a haircut all on the same floor. She also likes that the garages are attached and the post office delivers mail right to the facility.

“I have a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor, which is very spacious,” said Gail. “It has large windows, so I can enjoy the wonderful view of the ponds and wildlife. Arabella provides plenty of activities if you choose to take part, but you are not obligated.”

Ellis L., who said he is “39 going on 87,” feels extremely blessed to be living at Arabella.

“Mariah is my favorite part of being here,” Ellis smiled. “Everyone here knows they are cared for and not just part of a job. They got the cream of the crop when they hired Mariah.”

Ellis added that it was like a smorgasbord of services available at Arabella Manor. He takes advantage of the catered meals, has hired a cleaning service and has VA service help with his medication.

“I am so comfortable here and have so many blessings,” he said.

Virginia H. said she would recommend Arabella to anyone. She is happy and content and loves her apartment, which overlooks the duck pond. She added that the management is very accommodating.

“The social part is so nice to have here,” Virginia added. “It was a good choice that my family and I made together. I have never regretted it.”

Ruben and Evelyn J. enjoy a two-bedroom apartment at Arabella Manor. Photo by Katie Erdman

Kathleen W., another tenant at Arabella Manor, agreed. “I am totally happy here,” she said. “I like the smaller size and join others for coffee twice a day.”

Arabella Manor is essentially its own little community. New tenants are quickly welcomed in by the other tenants, and connections and relationships are formed. Tenants support other tenants through tough times and celebrate with them in good times. They also check in on each other regularly to make sure everything is OK. One tenant, Evelyn G., recently had a medical situation, and the other tenants were very concerned. After recovering, Evelyn was able to return to Arabella Manor, much to the relief of her Arabella friends. She is now able to go to Bible study and Church Women meetings once again.

When asked about their favorite part about living at Arabella Manor, the tenants mentioned the nice apartments, the fun activities or the great location, but there was one answer that everyone agreed on. Their favorite part is “the people.”

“I just love our tenants,” said Rodel. “They are wonderful people.”

“I am so blessed to be able to do something like Arabella Manor, something that has come from my heart,” said Neal, reflecting on all the friends and relationships that have been formed over the last 13 years. “It is so rewarding to see people’s lives been enriched by living here.”

Arabella Manor is located at 1810 and 1812 Darling Ave. in Alexandria. For more information or to schedule a tour call (320) 763-1763. You are invited to visit their website at

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