Seniors Housing Business

AUG-SEP 2015

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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72 Seniors Housing Business n August-September 2015 What's the best setting for seniors' health and well-being, and what can be done to create more affordable options? Aging-in-place concept raises important questions n Operations By Brian A. Lee Age is just a number, the adage goes, but in this country's unique demo- graphic and healthcare environ- ment it's actually a lot of numbers: people, dollars and decisions. Consider that about 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire every day from 2010 to 2029, according to the Pew Research Center. A study by the National Confer- ence of State Legislators (NCSL) and AARP Public Policy Institute found that nearly 90 percent of people over the age of 65 want to stay in their homes, or "age in place," for as long as possible. Aging is on just about every- one's minds, perhaps now more than ever given that the 15.1 per- cent increase in the 65-and-older population between 2000 and 2010 has only continued to escalate. If lifestyle guru Martha Stewart is correct, and 70 is indeed the new 50, then the "aging in place" trend could send healthy shock waves through the seniors housing sector and beyond. A holistic defnition of aging in place "Aging in place really is a rela- tionship of function, identity and economics," said Martha Pelaez, founder of Florida Health Net- works. "I usually invite people to think for a minute how they'd like to celebrate their 90th birthday. If you do that, now you have a goal for aging in place, whatever place that might be." Florida Health Networks is a subsidiary of the Health Founda- tion of South Florida, which since 1993 has awarded more than $110 million to public and nonproft organizations focused on improv- ing health and health services in Broward, Miami-Dade and Mon- roe counties. Pelaez's comments came during a recent panel discussion in Miami hosted by the National Associa- tion of Real Estate Editors. Join- ing Pelaez on the panel — titled "Boomer Decisions: Aging in Place, Finding Affordable Urban & Senior Communities," — were Joe Weisenburger, vice president of seniors housing at Toledo, Ohio-based Health Care REIT, and Richard Hutchinson, co-founder and president of Bonita Springs, Fla.-based Discovery Senior Living. Given the long-term demo- graphics and aging-in-place trends, it's little surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 70 percent increase in home health and personal care aides from 2010 to 2020, resulting in more than 1.3 million jobs. According to BCC Research, a Massachusetts-based frm analyz- ing business change driven by science and technology, the market for remote monitoring and tele- medicine applications will more than double from $11.6 billion in 2011 to about $27.3 billion in 2016. A matter of choice "The driver is ultimately the consumer," said Weisenburger of Health Care REIT, an S&P 500 company with a portfolio of more than 1,400 seniors housing and healthcare real estate properties in 46 states and internationally. "Seniors housing has trans- formed in specialty and sophistica- tion. There are far more amenities today and specialized programs that focus on mobility, nutrition and cognition," adds Weisenburger. "These programs are hard to repli- cate with the aging-in-place model because it requires huge invest- ments in people and infrastructure." Since 2008, Pelaez has led the Health Foundation of South Florida's Healthy Aging Regional Collaborative. For the past six years, the organization has served as the main support organiza- tion for aging service providers to deliver "evidence-based health and wellness programs" to more than 38,000 individuals. Today's Boomers are predomi- nantly focused on active-adult lifestyle choices now versus aging-in-place needs and beyond, but eventually they will need to begin planning for the next stage of their lives. "At 20, we can survive almost any environment, but at 70 not so much," said Pelaez. "So, how does my environment support my changing abilities and enable me to continue to do what I want to do? Envisioning what you want to do at 90 and doing that preliminary planning for how to get there is aging in place." Costs never seem to stay in place, however. Economics are not only a major factor for aging in place, but they also often constitute a major barrier. Medicare does not cover long-term housing needs for seniors and only covers home healthcare on a short-term, physician-prescribed basis. "Remodeling a home [to age in place] is expensive, so it is important we really think about it in terms of universal design," explained Pelaez. "I cannot afford to change my bathroom every 10 years. I really need to do it in a way that's going to last because it's a major investment, and that's true for every room in your house." A personal case study Pelaez said she was "very fortu- nate" when her 95-year-old mother came to live with her, a transition that served as a training run for aging in place. The focus turned to making the kitchen, bathrooms and other living spaces in her condo not only "age-friendly," but also cost-effective. Specifc modi- fcations included de-emphasis of high kitchen cabinets, establishing thermostat-controlled showers and installing automatic appliances. "Room by room I looked at A resident participates in a scrapbooking class at Discovery Village at Naples in Naples, Fla. Preserving a social environment for seniors is a key to happy aging, and one of the ongoing challenges of aging in place.

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