January/February 2015

January 4, 2015



Multifamily Developers: The Gateway to Senior Housing’s Future

Non-industry institutions like hospitals and national multifamily housing developers may soon find themselves at the gateway to the future of senior living development.

Driven by consumers’ desires for more walkable settings within close proximity to retail, restaurants and entertainment hubs, various studies have suggested the concept of the urbanized senior living community will be most attractive to Baby Boomers’ when it comes time for them to begin utilizing senior housing services.

Enter the future of senior living development, a concept that Alberto & Associates and its affiliate Ewing Cole, a national architecture and engineering firm, have been working on for several years.

“Younger generations and particularly Boomers are interested in living in urban areas, so there’s a gravitation toward more downtown living,” says Quinn deMenna, AIA, and director of architecture for the senior living division at Alberto & Associates, a New Jersey-based company that provides architecture, planning and urban redevelopment services.

“The next generation isn’t going to be interested in the same product we’ve been offering to seniors — the suburban CCRC with its green field campus and ring road around it,” he added.

The firm envisions future design to resemble a senior living community within a larger community that features mixed-use developments such as retail, health care, multi-generational housing, among other social hubs for dining and entertainment.

“Rather than making a [senior living] community, it’s instead making it part of a bigger community,” deMenna says.

The concept is also rooted firmly in the idea of building partnerships with different types of service providers, including organizations specializing in senior living, health care, multifamily development, as well as park and office developers to create that new type of downtown living feel, he adds.

This concept, however, is often easier said than done, as developers are burdened with designing communities for a consumer base that won’t utilize senior living for at least another 15 years. At the same time, they are challenged even further when trying to build in urban areas where space is often tighter than more suburban sprawls.

That’s where health systems and national multifamily developers can be of assistance, especially as hospitals become more decentralized and expand their reach to other communities.

“There’s an idea that hospitals and health care systems are becoming more local,” says deMenna. “We’re seeing a trend toward more hospitals — even urban hospitals — creating spaces like medical office buildings and outpatient centers to reach beyond urban areas into suburban areas.”

And there’s an opportunity to take advantage of the real estate holdings these larger, institutional entities occupy.

“We’re seeing in health care, this new idea of ‘what can we do with all that real estate?’” deMenna says. “As urban hospitals are looking to reuse their real estate holdings in downtown areas, they’re looking to senior living providers and other developers to come up with new ways of using that real estate.”

But hospitals aren’t the only ticket to developing sprawling master-planned, mixed-use communities. Working with national homebuilder Lennar Corporation), Alberto & Associates is putting its vision into practice. Having worked together previously on active adult cottages in Waretown, N.J., the two firms are embarking on designing a master-planned community in Ewing Township, N.J., that would contain a mix of uses, including retail, office, residential as well as senior housing.

Through land that has become available via the sell-off of General Motors’ real estate holdings, Lennar was awarded master developer for a 30-acre site to redevelop the land for commercial purposes. Currently, the site is undergoing remediation and environmental cleanup following the 2011 demolition of GM buildings that were formerly located on the grounds

While the full build-out of the development might not be complete for the next 30 years, developers are beginning to move forward with phasing plans. As for the proposed senior living component, Alberto & Associates is about ready to develop concepts for how this property type would coexist on the master-planned site.

“There is a ton of potential cross-pollenation to create better places within master-planned communities,” said Angelo Alberto, AIA, principal of Alberto & Associates. “This is where the market is moving, especially on the senior living side, because the typical senior in the next 10-15 years is going to want to have more of a town or cityscape lifestyle.”


Four Things to Love About Retiring on the East Coast

Whether your retirement date is 10 years behind you or decades ahead, the time is always right to think about your options for how you spend that hard-earned time free from the rigors of the workplace. Where will you go? The east coast is a great place for retirees. Here is how some view it.

Culture: The east coast is perhaps the richest cultural smorgasbord in the nation.  In New England you can breathe air that is full of history from the Revolutionary War, and you can visit such places as Minute Man Historical National Park and the National Heritage Museum.  In the south, you can taste history connected to the turbulent Civil War.

If history isn’t your cup of tea, no worries. The modern culture of the east coast has plenty to offer to residents and travelers alike. The international atmosphere in cities like New York means you can visit restaurants with authentic cuisine from around the world, and you can meet people from every corner of the globe.

Depending on where you settle on the east coast, you can choose from fast-paced city life or find a quiet paradise in one of the east coast’s many scenic small towns.

Climate: The east coast faces hurricanes, blizzards, and scorching summer heat, right?  Not so fast.  Some spots have a milder offering.  The “mid-Atlantic region offers milder weather and few natural disasters than much of the rest of the country.,” according to one observer, which is one of the reasons Washington, D.C. is a great place to settle down (not to mention Washington’s beautiful springtime).

The diverse weather on the east coast means that you have options all year-long for fun outdoor activities. You can go hiking, sailing, swimming, skiing, kayaking, canoeing, or leap into a host of other activities. Depending on your fitness level and your appetite for adventure, there is no end to the possibilities open to you. One outstanding city for outdoor activities is Roanoke, Va. You can check out the specifics here.

Accommodations: If you decide to retire on the east coast, but the move takes you away from friends and family, you can meet fellow retirees at a senior community.  At such communities you’ll find mentally young people who, like you, want to make the most of their retirement.  The perks of living at such a place include nearby friends, fun activities, and a greater sense of security than if you lived by yourself.

Of course, you can find senior communities anywhere, but you’ll find some of the best on the east coast. Fox Hill in Washington, D.C., for example, is a premium cosmopolitan retirement community. There, you will find a performing arts center, art studio and woodworking shop, a library, a recording studio, a virtual driving range, and game rooms. With all of that at your fingertips, you can stay close to home and still live it up. Keeping active and your mind in tip top shape is also important.  Retirement is just the beginning of a great part of your life and you should be the best you can be!

The prospect of living in a retirement community doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you prefer living in your own home, this list can help you find a town that has homes priced within your budget.   

Travel Opportunities: Sure, settling down for retirement is great, but if you have an itch to see the world, the east coast makes a great home base.  This is especially so if you plan to go to Europe, since travel time to places like Britain, Germany, and France is less from the east coast of the United States than the west coast.

Traveling domestically is also a breeze if you live on the east coast. You can visit magnificent places like Niagara Falls, New York City, Disney World, and Universal Studios on a whim and get there without the hassle of coming from the west or Midwest. If road trips are your style, the east coast offers plenty of scenic drives.

Retirement isn’t about getting old. It’s about finally having the time to pursue things that you had to put off when you belonged to the work force. The east coast is a great place for retirees who want to indulge in their passions. 


What the Future Holds for Assisted Living

The changing needs and demands of senior housing residents are transforming the way assisted living communities operate, with many catering to residents with higher acuity than traditionally seen in years past, writes Forbes columnist Howard Gleckman in a recent article. Looking ahead, Gleckman predicts that assisted living facilities will become the new nursing homes as nursing homes abandon the long-stay business for more lucrative post-acute and rehabilitation patients. To read the full article, click here.


15 Minute At-Home Test Could Detect Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Worried your constant forgetfulness could be more than just a series of “senior moments?” A quick 15-minute test could provide some answers.

Researchers are saying a new pen-and-paper test that can be taken in the convenience of your home could be key in spotting the early signs of cognitive decline and dementia. Over 1,000 volunteers ages 50 and up were given the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) as part of a study by the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Researchers found the test was successful in detecting 4 of every 5 people tested with mild cognitive decline.

The 22-question exam measures orientation, language, computation, visuospatial skills, problem solving, and memory. Sample questions include:

  • How many nickels are in 60 cents?
  • How are a watch and a ruler similar?
  • Write down the names of 12 animals.
  • What is today’s date?
  • Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers.

“What we found was the SAGE self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing,” researcher Douglas Scharre said in a release. “If we can catch this cognitive change really early, then we can start potential treatments much earlier than without having this test.”

Experts stress the importance of early detection with Alzheimer’s and dementias, providing the chance to get the full benefit of treatments sooner and also to allow for future planning. Researchers say the SAGE test shouldn’t be used to diagnose, rather to detect symptoms.

While there is no single way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, a number of physical and neurological exams are given for diagnosis. Late last year, one study showed some success in using a peanut butter sniff test to distinguish people with cognitive impairment.

Test-takers can take the assessment then share the results with their primary care physician. Researchers say the at-home test could be more effective in detecting early symptoms of cognitive decline than a standard office visit, as doctor’s often can’t observe subtle cognitive impairments during a brief visit. Missing 6 or more points on the test means there should be additional medical follow-up.

Download the test here.


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