Affordability and Assisted Living
The Census Bureau projects that the population of Americans aged 65 and over will likely surpass 83.7 million in the year 2050. As baby boomers reach retirement age in record numbers, concern grows regarding their financial capacity to withstand inevitable lifestyle changes. Through the financial setbacks of inconsistent employment, slow wage growth, and the decline of the stock market in 2008 and 2009, many baby boomers are now behind their target retirement savings goals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that adults, aged 65 and over, spend an average of $48,885 annually. Considering 45% of baby boomers have no retirement savings and another 15% have less than $100,000 saved, the primary source of income for most baby boomers entering retirement will be Social Security. As the rising cost of housing continues to challenge cities across the United States, affordability will be a particular struggle for seniors who are unable to increase their monthly spending. With the average monthly cost of assisted living in 2019 being $3,700, the economic issues facing today’s seniors are only amplified by the increasing cost of health care and medical expenses.

Health and Social Connectedness
In a research article published by the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, sociologists have established a link between social relationships and overall individual health, both in the short-term and cumulative long-term effects. These findings indicated that social relationships have significant impacts on individual health and can initiate both positive and negative results. For example, the presence of emotional support, as well as the absence of conflict and stress, likely indicates a quality of social relationship that may generate positive benefits to one’s health. In contrast, ongoing stress and conflict resulting from social relationships, coupled with the absence of emotional support, may lead to negative health effects. While unhealthy social relationships may contribute to health risks, lack of social interaction consistently indicates higher levels of mortality. AARP Public Policy Institute, Stanford University, and Harvard University conducted a recent study of individuals aged 65 and over, identifying 14% as socially isolated. Within that group, individuals experienced higher levels of depression, struggled to manage daily tasks, and typically exhibited five or more chronic conditions.

What is Co-Care?
KTGY’s R+D Studio connects the social benefits of co-living with the opportunities to promote affordability by design through shared spaces and a cooperative lifestyle. The Co-Care concept looks to address the growing issue of the affordability of assisted living for seniors in a community-driven, mutually beneficial design solution.

Balancing shared and private spaces, Co-Care is designed to encourage social interaction and cognitive stimulation, promoting improved quality of life and longevity among residents. By controlling unit size and incorporating both semi-private and communal spaces, residents experience lower housing cost and the emotional and physical health benefits of living in a collaborative community environment.

The Co-Care concept incorporates shared, semi-private units with communal social-interaction spaces. The upper three levels of units include two floor plans: a corner unit and an in-line unit. Both plans include four bedrooms and two bathrooms and a small kitchen, dining, and living space. The units are designed with two entry points from the internal-facing walkway, opening onto the central courtyard. Each private entry accesses a sleeping wing with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Sliding doors within the unit separate the sleeping wings from the semi-private kitchen and living area. Each four-bedroom unit is intended to house four seniors: two couples, four singles, or combination of two singles and a couple.

At the center of the ground-floor community courtyard, a koi pond and walking path connect residents with nature and offer a calming atmosphere. A large, communal dining area, commercial kitchen, and cafe lounge area connect to the courtyard through moveable, glass walls. Additionally, a flexible activity space, fitness and physical therapy room, and a number of administrative offices and service spaces are located at the ground level. Parking is accessed via a ramp located at the rear of the building to the subterranean level.