Senior living options have changed from what they were when Brentwood was founded 50 years ago. Yet, as recent as 1997, what we call senior living today was still referred to as a nursing home. Facilities were far from what we have today. Most of the change has happened in the last 10 years, inspired by the aging of Baby Boomers, who are living longer than any generation before them. In our continuing series celebrating Brentwood’s 50th anniversary, today we are exploring how Brentwood’s senior living options have evolved.
Senior Living No Longer Nursing Homes
According to Environments for Aging magazine, “[nursing homes were] highly regulated environments [that] were institutional in nature, defined by double-loaded corridors, shared resident rooms, artificial light, and centralized nursing.”
What Baby Boomers want to have in their senior years has changed significantly from the generations before them. Also, they are moving out of their homes later in life, often in their eighties and nineties, and only because of dealing with ailments they can no longer manage on their own.
According to Cindy Baier, President and CEO of Brookdale Senior Living, senior living is evolving to better serve the needs of the aging population. The industry began as a hospitality business but, today, [facilities] are caring for higher acuity residents living with more chronic conditions than ever before. The healthcare industry is seeing the potential positive impact senior living can have on patients.
“When we opened,” said Judy Good, Marketing Director at The Heritage at Brentwood, “options were limited, especially in Brentwood. Over the past five years, there’s been tremendous growth in senior living communities and options throughout the county, especially in the assisted living and memory care sector.”
Senior living facilities are also aware of the progression of needs as seniors grow more fragile. They may begin in independent living, move into assisted living, then be transferred to memory care with increasing dementia or skilled nursing with failing health. The final need being hospice care.
When Is the Time to Move to Senior Living?
“Deciding when to move into a senior living community is really a matter of individual choice,” said Baier, “although we frequently hear that residents wish they had made the move sooner.”
According to Williamson Inc., the county’s population is projected to grow 153%, from 211,672 in 2010 to 536,434 in 2040, with those age 65 and older among the county’s fastest-growing demographic groups.
This summer, Brookdale surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that half don’t have any plans for their senior years, 61% said they’ll live alone and stay in their current homes, and only 36% said they would consider senior living
“While these statistics are alarming, they aren’t surprising,” added Baier. “Once residents move into senior living, they often find that their quality of life improves…[They] have access to a network of friends, activities and outings. I’ve heard from many residents who say they gained a new sense of hope after moving into a Brookdale community. They had no idea how lonely they were before moving in amongst friends.”
New Group Choosing to Downsize Earlier
Not all who choose to move out of the family home, however, are in their later years or living alone. A new wave of people in their mid-sixties and early seventies are choosing to move into a senior community once they become empty nesters to get away from caring for a large home and cooking every day. In this case, they are often looking for flexibility so they can travel and enjoy other favorite activities.
Since opening in 2007, The Heritage at Brentwood has welcomed residents from all over the country. They are joining the ranks of ‘trailing parents and grandparents’ who move here to be closer to their adult children and their families and are a big part of this age group’s population growth.
“Today Williamson County has options for those looking to downsize from a large home but remain fully independent to those who need full-time nursing home care,” said Good. “It’s vital that seniors and their families do their due diligence to find the best option for their particular situation, budget, lifestyle and health situation. We encourage prospective Heritage residents to visit several communities to gather as much information as possible and to weigh the differences between the options before making their decision…, from amenities and dining options to level of on-site health care available.”
The Heritage at Brentwood’s independent living villas and apartments range in size from just under 800 square feet to 2,171 square feet, all with fully equipped kitchens, walk-in closets, gas fireplaces and balconies, patios or screened porches.
Brookdale has a community that is pet-friendly and features a library, fitness center, theatre and beauty salon, along with many other amenities. This means residents no longer have to take care of chores, errands, or house maintenance, nor do they have to cook, unless they want to, because meals are available.
“We added a new restaurant that allows Heritage residents to dine on their own schedule,” said Good, “as it is open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.”
Earlier this year, the Heritage finished the final phase of development which added a 10,000-square-foot wellness center that includes a heated, indoor pool; a large group fitness classroom; and a fitness center that’s open 24/7.
“The ability to live a true lock-and-go lifestyle today in a community while guaranteeing future health-care needs will be covered without an increase in their monthly fee attracts those in their late 60s and early 70s, though we have many active and independent seniors in their late 80s making the move as well,” said Good