As Baby Boomers age, plans ramp up for more senior housing in Greenwich | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors
GREENWICH — As the population of Baby Boomers begins moving into their retirement years, it is leading to an increase in senior housing options locally as well as across the nation.
As a local example, a skilled nursing facility in Greenwich filed an application last month to renovate and reconfigure the nursing home and turn it into an assisted living facility.
The application by Greenwich Woods would reduce the number of beds from 217 to 90, with a conversion to assisted living and memory care units. It is following a growing trend that has become an attractive housing option among affluent and aging seniors in Greenwich and beyond.
“This is the result of changing demographics and an oversupply of skilled nursing beds in this part of the state. There is currently a greater demand for assisted living and memory care rooms,” according to a submission from attorney Thomas Heagney, who represents the Greenwich Woods plan.
A message left with the administration at Greenwich Woods seeking information last week was not returned.
A national trend toward the construction, even the over-construction, of assisted living facilities can be seen in Greenwich and around the region. Two new assisted living facilities are under construction in Stamford and White Plains, N.Y. In recent years, developers and operators of assisted living facilities in the Northeast such as Atria, Bristal, Kensington, Sunrise, Kendall and Epoch, have been building at rapid pace, anticipating a demand among aging Baby Boomers — at least among those who can afford them.
A proposal to build the Ambassador at Greenwich, which would call for 120 residential units in a building at an old contractor’s yard on Old Track Road near Old Field Point Road, was put forward late last year. The proposal has run into concerns from the Planning and Zoning Commission over the size and bulk of the project, while its development team noted that they were filling what they say is a strong demand for assisted living in Greenwich.
Greenwich has several skilled nursing facilities and other housing accommodations for seniors, including The Mews, Parsonage Cottage and the Hill House in Riverside. Greenwich Communities, formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority, also provides low-cost senior housing. The Nathaniel Witherell, a town-owned property, is a skilled-nursing facility and rehabilitation center.
While choices for senior housing in Greenwich are limited, there has been a growing and crowded field of independent living and assisted living facilities around the region. Independent living offers recreational and dining services for seniors, while assisted living provides more personal care services for seniors who have greater need of help. Continuing Care Retirement Communities, as the facilities are known, offer a spectrum of care from independent living to nursing home care, in the same community.
Lori Contadino, director of the Commission on Aging in Greenwich, said town seniors would benefit from having more choices, with the addition of assisted living facilities.
“We know its important, as we age, that to have an array of housing options. So people have opportunities and choice,” she said, “As far as assisted living, there’s a gap in our community. These assisted living environments, they exist in communities all around Greenwich, not so much here in town. …
“We do need a wider range of options, and more supportive options, for older adults. Especially if they want to stay in their community where they’ve raised their children, a community that they know and where their peer group is. It’s an option that could benefit older adults in our community,” she said.
“We all want choice, it’s always good to have options.”
In Greenwich, 19 percent of the population is over 60 years of age, according to a recent survey. Contadino said a number of seniors she knows who have sought assisted-living facilities had to move out of the town, often ending up in residential facilities in Stamford.
While the growth of assisted living option is a good housing addition to the region, Contadino said, “It comes at a cost: It can be expensive. You have to be able to afford it.”
The growth of assisted living is based on math — and the large demographic cohort born between 1946 and 1964, known as the Baby Boomers. In 2030, one in five Americans will be over 65 or older.
“The primary driver in growth in senior housing demand is the aging population. In particular, the growth of the elderly population,” said Larry Gerber, president and CEO of Epoch Senior Living, which is building a senior facility called Waterstone on High Ridge Road in Stamford, with a total of 145 residential units.
“And it’s driven by improvements in health care and wellness, more people are living longer. The first of Baby Boomer generation is turning 80 in 2026. The age of move-in tends to be early 80s. In terms of the real growth and demand, it’s likely to be 2025 to 2045, when the Baby Boomers turn 80 and are in the 80s,” said Gerber.
His company is also planning to open an assisted living facility in White Plains in late 2021 or early 2022, Waterstone of Westchester, with 132 units.
The field has been growing significantly in recent years — even over-reaching, he said.
“The Baby Boom wasn’t quite there yet. There’s been some over-building,” he said, and the field has grown competitive.
Waterstone, he said, differentiated itself by keeping its facilities on the smaller side — “it creates a different environment” — and by working on a rental arrangement with “financial flexibility.”
A number of other assisted-living providers charge substantial entry fees, he said. The Waterstone facility in Stamford is set to offer all-inclusive monthly fees for independent living starting at $6,900, according to the company. Based on apartment size, monthly rates for assisted living apartments are set to start at $7,900.
The population of lower Connecticut and New York is well-suited to the assisted-living market, and affluent seniors ae in abundance, Gerber said. “They’re good populations, in terms of terms of demographics and incomes and home values, those are strong,” he said.
While it comes at a premium, the services were an attractive one, he said.
“There’s lots of amenities and services, so that people can live an active lifestyle, and continue to be active and have social engagement – and more so than if they were living in a house or condo,” Gerber said, “The attraction is lifestyle and convenience, as well as safety and security. It’s a lifestyle that’s very comfortable.”