Area retirement communities are upping the ante to meet Baby Boomers’ expectations.
Montereau Retirement Community representatives say modern and custom upgrades are expected by residents when it comes to choosing and designing their living spaces.
When one thinks about retirement or independent living communities, that image of card tables, melted Jell-O and endless games of checkers is not what the Baby Boomer generation has in mind.
Instead, those moving to Tulsa-area centers are going on pub crawls downtown, meeting friends at onsite dog parks or catching an early spin class.
“Our residents have done the Tulsa Bike Bar, and a group just participated in the Great Raft Race for the second year,” says Jamie Townsend, director of marketing at Montereau Retirement Community.
Even if they’re not up for ziplining or tai chi, area retirees have more choices than ever at local retirement communities with updated housing, amenities and health care facilities.
Tulsa centers are preparing for an influx of Baby Boomers in the coming years — and this generation is living longer, experiencing better health and proving to be savvy customers who know what they want.
According to data from the 2012 U.S. Census, the population aged 65 and older, including the surviving Baby Boomers who began turning 65 in 2011, is projected to number 83.7 million by 2050 — a 94 percent growth since 2012.
“They want to have convenience, more than anything, and continuing the lifestyle they’ve always had as far as environments go,” says Cari Owens, vice president of sales and marketing at Oklahoma Methodist Manor.
Here’s a look at what area retirement communities have added, updated and are planning to keep up with the Baby Boomer demand.
Oklahoma Methodist Manor
Services: Independent, assisted living and nursing care
Fees: Membership fees begin at $9,000.
Although Oklahoma Methodist Manor already has some Baby Boomer residents, it is prepared for a spike in the coming years. So OMM has already expanded, adding 103 more residences four years ago with its Crestwood addition.
“It has two dining areas, a theater/classroom, two hobby rooms, a luxury card and game room, meeting room, library and state-of-the-art fitness center — all under one roof,” Owens says.
Fitness is critical for Baby Boomers — and OMM offers the latest strength-training equipment, a pool and classes.
Today’s Boomers like the security of being able to lock their door and leave “and not worry about watering plants or the mail. It’s all taken care of,” Owens says.
Population: 364 residents; must be 55 or older
Services: Assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care and memory care, as well as Inverness at Home, which offers home and community-based services
Fees: These range but are “comparable to home ownership,” according to the marketing department.
Choice is key for residents at Inverness Village — from where they live to how they live, says Mark Gray, executive director.
“They want to sustain that ability to be active and volunteer in the Tulsa community,” he says.
Fitness needs have increased significantly in a relatively short period.
“Ten years ago, we had a fitness center that hardly anyone used,” he says. “Now it is well-used. Residents are also enjoying the walking trails and taking yoga and tai chi classes and requesting healthier food from the dining center.”
During the past six years, Inverness has expanded with amenities such as a salon and spa, a chapel and library.
“We’re also upgrading our at-home care services, so we can go beyond our own walls,” says Jessica Page, director of sales and marketing.
Montereau Retirement Community
Services: Independent living, assisted living, long-term nursing care, memory care and rehab care
Fees: Refundable entrance fees start at $258,000, and monthly fees start at $2,151.
In her 16 years working at Montereau, Marketing Director Jamie Townsend says she has seen a lot of changes — from requests for more choices in housing styles, to which spouse makes those choices.
“It’s amazing how our residents have changed,” she says. “What I’ve noticed most is, when I was first working with clients, many times the husband was making the most decisions. Now the females, who also have had experience in the workforce, are the decision-makers.”
The Baby Boomer generation is also what she calls the “HGTV generation” in terms of amenities.
“They want a lot of custom upgrades, and they don’t mind waiting or paying for it,” Townsend says. “People aren’t going to take the standard finishes. So, now we’re building in $10,000 worth of custom upgrades in their homes, from paint to hardwood floors to granite countertops.”
The same goes for activities.
“We have a 40-seat theater with surround sound and popcorn; a day spa where the women are getting styles and highlights. We’re trying to replicate the services many people have at home.”
Services: Early memory care, memory care for mid-late stage dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, health care center (highest level of care); seven independent living cottages
Fees: No buy-in; costs range from $3,000 to $7,500 per month, depending on the level of care.
Although Saint Simeon’s has fewer independent living residents than the other facilities, it is adapting and increasing amenities and activities for all residents, says President and CEO Lindsay Hurley Fick.
“The notion of a ‘nursing home’ has all but evaporated from the vernacular for seniors, their families and especially for the Baby Boomers,” she says. “Senior living is becoming an industry within itself, all geared toward offering seniors a future of choice, options and as much independence as possible.”
The facility constructed its Wellness Center in 2009, complete with a warm water therapy pool, and wellness routines are customized to the needs of the resident.
“This personalization allows every Saint Simeon’s senior, whether memory impaired or physically limited, to participate,” Fick says.
A recent update to its health care center has been a big hit — an open kitchen so residents can watch their food being prepared.
“As we look toward the future of senior living, there will continue to be growth in services and varied manners of offering those services,” Fick says.
Talk early, talk often
Whether one’s parents are planners or free spirits, a discussion about housing post-retirement is inevitable.
Before a choice is made due to an illness or situation out of a parent’s control, it’s advantageous for adult children to talk early and often with their parents about their future plans, says Carol Carter at LIFE Senior Services.
“There’s not a magic method,” she says. “It’s different for every family. But it’s really best if it starts from a larger conversation about what your parents’ desires are as they age and what they foresee for their future.”
Here are some methods using real-life scenarios she recommends to help start that conversation:
• If a friend or family member has recently moved to a retirement home, ask your parent how he/she likes it. What was their impression? What was the friend’s opinion?
• If your parent’s friend recently experienced a health issue, ask your parent what he/she would want to do in a similar situation and what their preferred response would be in terms of assisted living.
• If your parent’s home has become expensive to keep up, gently explain how the situation is impacting you. If your parent looks at the situation through your eyes, that can help them open up.
• Deciding where to live can be overwhelming for the whole family, but families can help make it a more positive experience for parents by doing their homework and keeping the lines of communication open.
So you’ve decided, but what’s next? Here are some more tips:
• When it is determined where your loved one will live, pop in at different times to experience the atmosphere.
• Talk to nurses’ aides or those who will be your loved one’s primary caregivers and ask questions.
• While you visit the center, strike up conversations with other families there about how their loved ones are doing and how they like the center.
• Carter recommends picking up a copy of LIFE’s Vintage Guide to Housing and Services, available at every Tulsa City-County Library location or online.
• The guide lists all housing options in the Tulsa area by level of care (multi-level, independent, assisted living, residential care and nursing facilities).