Aging Well starts project to build senior living campus in Junction City | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
Mar. 30—Aging Well, a Junction City nonprofit aimed at helping senior citizens in the community, has formed a plan to build housing for senior citizens in the community.
Co-chair of Aging Well LaDonna Junghans said the first phase of building had been planned to include housing that would allow seniors to live as independently as possible with help from staff, but tailored to the seniors’ wants and needs.
“Phase one includes three homes and the homes will have approximately 12 bedrooms that include their private baths and at the center of these homes will be a huge, open kitchen, dining room and living room — so a very home-like atmosphere,” she said. “It’s created with the concept of acute care — or the traditional longterm care — but it’s under a totally different model with individualized, customized care.”
The idea is to offer seniors more autonomy by letting them choose what they want to do and when to the degree possible and for staff to learn their interests in order to customize their care.
Alongside the three homes, Junghans said, there will be an apartment complex-esque building with assisted living with 14 “mini homes” in it.
“There’s going to be skilled care, assisted living and then also we will be, in the future, building independent homes,” board member Theresa Bramlage said.
According to Junghans, the project is being built in phases and when it is finished, it will be “a senior living campus with walking trails, things to do, a clubhouse. But this is our phase one are the three small homes and the assisted living unit.”
According to Junghans, the project is not intended to compete with other senior living facilities in the Junction City community. She said the group conducted a market study early on that showed this sort of housing was a need in the Junction City community.
“We’re not here to replace anybody,” Junghans said. “We’re here to expand options — that’s what we wish to do. Studies show — and we can see living here — that we have lost many senior citizens because they’ve chosen to go elsewhere for their care. So we want to keep them home with us.”
Marketing and Fund Development Consultant Jona Freel, who is of Aging Well’s Grace Team — a group of people who help develop retirement communities all around the state — said Geary County’s senior citizen population (meaning those age 65 and older) was expected to grow. She said the population was projected to grow from 3,235 to 3,490 in the near future.
“There are currently 100 longterm care beds being provided at the moment with a projected need of 178 this year and then 181 in 2024,” Freel said. “Aging Well is going to be providing 36 of that need.”
According to Bramlage, it’s not just population growth that needs to be taken into account here. The current population is also aging.
“When you look at those of us in the community that are going to be of that 65+ age group — that’s the growing population,” she said.
According to Freel, the market study indicated that there are currently 39 assisted living apartments available in the community with a projected need of 54 this year.
Junghans said the group has been around for about 10 years and was “created out of passion to create additional quality senior living here in Geary County.”
The push to turn that dream into reality came into being after a gift of ground near the intersection of Highway 77 and Highway 18 near Spring Valley Road was presented to Aging Well, she said.
“With that gift then came the opportunity to develop it and create senior living,” Junghans said.
Freel said Aging Well has started fundraising for the project. The total cost of phase one of the project will be about $10.5 million.
“We’ll be working to raise $3.5 million for that,” she said. “We have a great start at that already — we’re well over $1 million.”
Freel believes Aging Well will reach its $3.5 million goal by autumn and the hope is to break ground on the first phase of the project by the end of November.
Aging Well is in the process of applying for a 50 percent tax credit with the state, something the group is asking for pledges with. Aging Well is also seeking a loan from the USDA to help fund the project.
Bramlage said the R2B4 Bramlage Foundation was in full support of the project.
“We see a huge economic impact to this community if we keep our seniors here,” she said. “That’s why we’re contributing to the project and we ask that others do the same.”
According to Freel, it was estimated that last year a total of 20 senior citizens left the community to seek care elsewhere.
“That’s hard on the elders, that’s hard on the families,” she said. “That’s a lot less jobs. That’s such a — not only economic impact — but psychological.”
According to Freel, one of the project’s goal’s is to improve quality of life for local senior citizens during the aging process.
“We’re also real passionate about what we call our core values,” she said. “We feel like the elders of the community do deserve something very honorable and different than the traditional institutional place to live their lives. So our core values are that elders’ lives will be purposeful, not passive, staff are motivated by person, not process — so that’s that whole individualization piece of it — and our actual environment is going to be very intentional about how we do it.”
Junghans said she hoped the project could create a community hub for senior citizens.
“Caring for our elders in a passionate way is a desire of all in our community,” Junghans said. “Long term care needs to look and feel different than a traditional nursing home and Aging Well at the Spring Valley Campus will do just that with the small home design … We want to do this for our parents, for our spouses, and even for ourselves.”
“The community’s been very positive about it,” Freel said. “We’re just kind of starting with that awareness-building and asking, but yeah — very supportive.”
To learn more about the project, people can go to www.agingwellseniorliving.com or call Junghans’ office at 785-238-3117.