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Retirement Living News

April 2014

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Study Lists Top 20 Fastest Growing Retirement Destinations

Weather, tax benefits and proximity of senior living communities are just a few of the things attracting adults age 65 and older to some of the nation’s fastest growing retirement destinations, according to a recent analysis from NerdWallet.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, NerdWallet analyzed the 75 largest metros in the country, taking into account the age 65+ population as a percentage of total population from 2007 to 2012.

Arizona and Michigan were among the states with the fastest growing 65+ population, as each had two metro areas within the NerdWallet top-10 rankings.

The Tucson and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metro areas boast attractive weather, a surplus of golf courses as well as nearby retirement communities and continuing education opportunities for retirees.

On the Michigan front, the metro areas of Detroit-Warren-Livonia and Grand Rapids-Wyoming reported increases in their senior population, despite overall population growth hitting a decline.

Both areas also play home to senior living communities such as Woodhaven, a full-service continuing care retirement community, and Clark Retirement Community, a nonprofit organization that offers residential options and services for retirees.

Other top retirement destinations include Nevada’s Las Vegas-Paradise metro, where no income tax or inheritance tax might be appealing for some retirees, and where the area’s senior population grew 1.9% from 2007-2012—the third-highest rate of all places in the NerdWallet analysis.

The rest of the top-10 retirement places varied regionally, with other states like Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Washington and Oregon making the cut.

NerdWallet even goes beyond the top-10 places to include an expanded list of the top-20 fastest growing retirement destinations.  Visit the NerdWallet site for the list.

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Survey Finds 70% of Baby Boomers Expect Their Retirement Home to be Their Best

Last month  Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate released the findings of a national survey of Baby Boomers (ages 49-67) revealing this influential generation’s feelings of optimism about living an independent, active lifestyle; a lifestyle unrestrained by planned retirement communities and instead bolstered by living out their life passions. The survey indicates that 57 percent of Boomers plan to move out of their current home and 70 percent believe the house they retire in will be the best home in which they have ever lived.

“With approximately 77 million Boomers in the U.S., it’s quite significant for our industry to see that this population has so much positive anticipation for the home in which they will be retiring – and for the majority, their aspirations involve making a move,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. “Baby Boomers are known for being a hardworking, trailblazing generation. As they have done with every other major life event, they are marching head-on into retirement with big plans and no desire to change their pace. Our study shows that Boomers continue to surprise with nuances of what they care about and what they are prioritizing.”

Among Boomers who feel more confident about achieving their ideal retirement lifestyle compared to five years ago, the top factor is having a retirement lifestyle plan (49%).

“This mindset shows us that, for Boomers getting ready to retire, there’s more to it than solely saving money in the bank,” said Chris. “To have the utmost confidence in their retirement plan, this generation is actively planning a comprehensive lifestyle plan, taking into account the type of home and community they want to live in, as well as the option of continuing to work or taking advantage of travel and entertainment opportunities.”

Approximately 1 out of 4 Boomers surveyed are also likely to buy a second home to use during their retirement years, such as a vacation or beach house. For a generation that was hit hard during the recession, this commitment to lifestyle planning and desire for their “dream home” is a great show of optimism. On the selling side, 31 percent of Boomers are more likely to want to sell their home now than they were five years ago, showing a renewed confidence in the real estate market.

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NY Times: Faith Based Senior Living Makes Comeback

After getting rocked by the downturn in the economy over the last few years, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are making a comeback, reports The New York Times.

While still a small portion of the overall market for senior living, CCRCs are seeing an increase in occupancy and development says Ziegler, an investment bank based in Chicago.

Occupancy rates reached 90% nationally by the end of 2013 and even higher in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Eighteen new CCRCs are expected to open this year and next, up from a forecast of eight initially projected last September.

Gradual growth is expected after 2015, on the order of 15 to 30 new developments a year, said Daniel Hermann, the head of investment banking at Ziegler. He estimated that residents of such communities represent just 3% to 5% of people who can afford them.

The number of CCRCs has reached roughly 1,900 and about 80% of those communities are run by non-profits, with about 75% of those being run by faith-based organizations.

Larry Minnix, president of LeadingAge, said that over the next 10 years there will be more attention placed on lower-income people as well as the option of receiving services in the privacy of their own home. Ultimately, Mr. Minnix told the Times, he expects the “R” for retirement to be dropped from C.C.R.C.

“If you take the image of older people and retirement off it, these places have a lot of appeal to baby boomers,” he said. “They’re used to quality, convenience, to come and go as you please.”

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Do I Stay or Do I Go?  The Retirement Community Decision

Every senior reaches a point in life when they ask themselves, “Can I keep living in my home, or is it time to move?” There are pros and cons to both living at home and moving into a retirement community. Adjustments can be made to a home so a person can pretty much stay as long as they want. On the flip side, that same person may enjoy the benefits of independent living or assisted living communities much more.

Do I Stay?
According to AARP annual surveys, at least 80-percent of older adults want to stay at home. One way to decide if this is right for you is to seek expert advice. Your doctor can recommend an occupational therapist to evaluate your home. Or contact someone like Brian Rodehorst from Jayhawk Patient Supply and Aging at Home, who is a Certified Environmental Access Consultant. He visits homes to determine what needs to be done so a senior can keep living there.

“People come to us in a couple of different ways,” Rodehorst said. “One is through recommendations from physicians and rehab facilities. The other is they’ve heard about us or are already a patient. I set up an appointment to visit their home, and I try to get the family involved in the process.”

Beth Valdivia of PDQ Construction in Topeka is another resource. She is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist through The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Like Rodehorst, she will visit your home to evaluate what changes need to be made.

“I like to see how the person uses their home,” Valdivia said. “Do they entertain a lot? How long do they plan to stay?”

Some of the environmental changes both Valdivia and Rodehorst consider are:

  • Accessibility: How hard is it to get in and out of the house, and room to room? Does the home have at least one step-free entrance? Are the doorways and hallways wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Is there a bedroom, full bathroom and kitchen all on the same level? Rodehorst said, “Things can be done to any home to make them accessible. It’s just a matter of if it’s in the budget. It can be as simple as telling someone to remove an area rug.”
  • Valdivia also noted adding a ramp and deck to the home to improve access doesn’t mean it has to be an eyesore. “Just because it’s accessible doesn’t mean it can’t look pretty,” she said.
  • Stairways: Do they have sturdy handrails on both sides? Should you install a chair lift? Rodehorst said one of his company’s most popular jobs is to install chair lifts so people can access upstairs bedrooms or laundry facilities downstairs. “Lots of times we have people who haven’t been upstairs or downstairs in years,” he said.
  • Lighting: Are hallways, doorways, and staircases well lit, especially at night when seniors are sometimes disoriented when they wake up?
  • Fixtures: Do doorknobs and faucets have lever-style handles for easier use? Are light switches, outlets, and thermostats at a level that can be reached when seated? Are the windows easy to open?
  • Bathrooms: Are they accessible for a wheelchair or walker? Can the homeowner step into the tub or shower, and does it have a non-slip surface? Does the toilet need to be higher to make sitting and standing easier? Do grab bars need to be installed?
  • Kitchens: Are countertops or tables at various heights so work can be done sitting or standing? Can a wheelchair or walker maneuver in the space?

Or Do I Go?
Sometimes the cost or hassle of updating the home may make the idea of moving to a retirement community more appealing. However, this doesn’t have to mean moving to a nursing home.

Connie Michaelis, Director of Marketing for McCrite Plaza Retirement Community in Topeka, said, “Keep in mind the first step into a retirement community is usually Independent Living, and then on to Assisted Living. Independent living may significantly improve the lifestyle of seniors. Better food, more safety, and lots of healthy socialization and activity. It is a proven fact that the more active seniors stay, the longer they stay healthy. Being home alone, certainly if you don’t drive, leads to inactivity, boredom and sometimes depression. Diet typically suffers too.”

Retirement communities are specifically designed to be what Michaelis calls, “senior friendly.” Accessibility is achieved with elevators, ramps, and step-free spaces. Bathrooms are designed for easy access by wheelchairs and walkers, as is the dining area. “We are not ‘retrofitting’ our building. It was built for all the issues that face seniors,” Michaelis said.

Retirement communities also offer other benefits. Some manage your medications and provide some healthcare. Often there are activities planned, such as card games, arts and crafts, educational seminars, Bible study, exercise classes, and field trips. Some communities, like McCrite, also have amenities such as a fitness center, pub, theater, and hair salon. Plus, the facility takes care of all the maintenance, from changing light bulbs to mowing the grass.

“The general thought is that one stays in their home until there is a medical reason to leave,” Michaelis said. “The mind set is that senior living is for individuals that need assistance in their daily activities. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Most residents express a sense of freedom. Freedom from daily chores and the responsibilities of owning a home.”

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Developer Pledges $1 Billion for New Senior Housing Construction

A Michigan-based developer of senior housing communities has big plans for new construction over the next few years that could amount to a billion dollars in development.  Wyoming, Michigan-based Granger Group LLC is planning $1 billion worth of senior housing developments over the course of the next three years.  Of that $1 billion, the company has $180-$200 million in new senior housing projects planned for this year alone that will incorporate assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing as part of what Granger Group is calling “Health Care Villages” to be built around the country.

A Health Care Village offers the proximity of hospital care and also adds in other components such as medical office buildings, retail, wellness and post-acute care services, including senior living.

The arrangement of these services within a close-knit location of one another will become increasingly important, Granger Group believes, especially as more healthcare providers strive to become Accountable Care Organizations.

“That is where we see the huge growth opportunity,” Granger said.  The company says it has been analyzing various markets nationwide and has identified about 20 to 30 where there are “prime opportunities” for senior housing as it fits with the integrated Village approach.

“We’ve started to work with a number of hospitals across the country over the last few years that are looking for a health care delivery system that gives them a huge amount of brand exposure,” Granger said. “Senior living is tying into that Health Village model.”

Granger Group currently has an April groundbreaking scheduled for its latest endeavor, a $26 million senior living project called Metro Health Village located in Wyoming, MI. This 136-unit, four-story development will sit just yards away from Metro Health hospital.

To go along with the increasing opportunities for new development, the company is also in the process of launching a separate senior living management company that would operate in facilities nationwide.

This operation, however, is still in its early stages with more details to come in the following months, Granger said.

“We see growth happening significantly over the next 5-10 years because senior housing is more and more going to be an ancillary part of the whole healthcare sector,” he said.

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