Reata Glen – How Are Senior Care Communities Caring For Couples?
January 10, 2019
Senior housing developers and designers are working to expand the housing and care options enjoyed by the oldest Americans, including couples. Demographics explain why.
Only about 100,000 Americans lived to be 85 or older in 1900. Projections indicate there will be more than 19 million Americans 85 and older by 2050. People 85 and older will make up 24% of older adults and 5% of the overall American population.
Providing couples multiple options and approaches within the same senior living community is important. That’s because many couples have acuity and other challenges that make it difficult if not impossible to remain living together in the same quarters.
Different needs, different times
At Pathway to Living communities, couples can share assisted living apartments. They can opt to each have their own assisted living apartment at the same community. They can have individual assisted living apartments in a companion suite. Or one spouse can remain in assisted living in the same community where another is in memory care.
“Couples have different needs and often at different times, so we try to offer as many flexible options and alternatives as possible to help them choose the right home for them,” said Maria Oliva, COO of Chicago, Ill.-based Pathway to Living, with 32 Midwestern senior living communities.”
Often, spouses also have widely different socialization and activity needs, and these too can be accommodated at Pathway to Living communities. A case in point is provided by Anne Schmid and her husband Allan, who recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. The Schmids live in separate assisted living apartments connected within a companion suite at Pathway to Living-operated Alexian Village in Elk Grove Village, Ill.
“Our family thought it would be smart for us to live somewhere with medical staff on site,” Anne says. “The community is great for us because I’m very social and Allan is a hermit. I’ve met a lot of new friends, enjoy all the music programs, go on the outings and attend the exercise classes every morning. Allan likes to watch TV and rest in his apartment, and prefers to come down mainly for meals.”
Duplex cottage option
Keeping couples together is a priority at CA Senior Living, the senior housing investment and development division of Chicago-based CA Ventures, with 22 U.S. senior communities operating or under construction. CA Senior Living offers traditional independent living, assisted living and memory care studios. In its communities in Lynwood, Wash. and Mayfield Heights, Oh. it also offers a new duplex cottage option.
Togetherness for couples has been “proven to boost quality of life, in part through the alleviation of stress associated with separation,” said CA Senior Living president Ben Burke. “While many couples want to continue living together, they often require varying levels of care, which prevents some from even considering alternative housing options despite the health benefits they provide. We’ve made it our mission to educate older couples – and in many cases their adult children – about the various options that allow couples to live in the same community and, whenever possible, the same unit.”
Staying together through rehab
The life plan communities (LPCs) designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning are expressly laid out to enable spouses to remain together as long as possible in the same place, surrounded by the same familiar friends. In the event of one spouse requiring rehabilitation, the designs enable movement between independent and assisted living areas. After the rehab is concluded, couples can reunite in their independent living apartments. The soon-to-open, KTGY Architecture + Planning-designed Reata Glen in South Orange County, Calif., for instance, will permit residents to transition from independent living to memory care and skilled nursing on the same site.