Azalea Estates recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a celebration featuring local band Na Na Sha. Residents, families and visitors celebrated Louisiana style on Feb. 11 with music, dancing and southern style food.

     Executive Director Lisa L’huillier attributes the continued success of the retirement home to the residents and staff of Azalea. 

     "It’s about the people, the residents themselves,” L’huillier said. “We feel like it’s family here. When I’m looking for employees, I try to choose by heart. Most people can be trained on a duty but they can’t be trained on the heart.”

     Recently the facility was named in the top one percent of the nation’s senior living facilities from review website SeniorAdvisor. 

     “Earning a Best of Senior Living award is an especially important honor because the awards aren’t arbitrarily chosen by some committee – they’re based on the ratings of actual residents and their loved ones,” said a press release from the site. “SeniorAdvisor.com has over 100,000 reviews and ratings for senior care options across the country, all of them provided by seniors and their loved ones.”

     L’huillier added that the facility hosts lots of activities and programs for the residents such as having fitness programs, scheduled trips and live music once a week, to name a few.

     “Music is part of their soul and it gives them something to do,” she said.

      Kay Bergeron, a 16 year resident of Azalea, said she loves living at the facility because the residents are always the first priority with the staff. 

     “The place is lovely, it’s a very nice place,” Bergeron said. “Always the first priority is the resident. It’s a good place to be because they do help. The staff is very good, all you have to do is ask them and they will help. I like the fact that you meet different people from different parts of the country.”

     While Bergeron might enjoy meeting diverse people, ten year resident, Rezette Jenkins enjoys the privacy she gets from living at Azalea.

     “I find that everything I need I can get here,” Jenkins said. “I like the people, the personnel and the location."

     Last year Gonzales was ranked as one of the top five cities to retire in Louisiana by financial blog SmartAsset. The website collected data from three regional factors, state and local tax rates, number of doctor’s offices, recreation centers and retires centers and the number of seniors in each area as a percentage of the total population. 

     “In our final analysis, we ranked each county and city on these three factors, and calculated an average ranking for each area, weighting the three factors equally,” Steve Sabato of SmartAsset said. “The areas with the lowest average ranking are the best places to retire.”

     Azalea Estates also earned five, five star reviews and is rated as a caring star provider from Caring.com.

     “When I’m meeting with someone for the first time it’s not a line to say that this would be your home and we would be your family. It is that way.”

      For more information about the studies, see SmartAsset and SeniorAdvisor.