As we have discussed previously, the American population is aging. With the baby boomer generation getting older, we are already seeing the demand for senior housing and assisted living increasing. Senior living companies are preparing for the increase in demand with new construction projects and expansions. The companies are investing in all areas of senior housing. However, many companies are paying special attention to memory care, as the number of people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease grows. Construction is booming in this area. For example, the Avamere Family of Companies recently acquired Necanicum Village Senior Living Community in Oregon (now Avamere at Seaside), a community specializing in memory care. Nicolette Merino, Regional Director of Operations for Avamere, said of the acquisition: “We are committed to enhancing the life of every person we serve, whether that is through providing personalized care that affords our residents more independence or cultivating an environment where an individual with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia can live their life comfortably.” Also, this summer, Parkview Home in Freeport, Illinois will begin a $9 million expansion to add a memory care unit to the community. Parkview marketing director Chris Kempel says that he is getting calls every week from families searching for a memory care facility. In the area there are a few, but the waiting lists are long, and Parkview is investing to meet the current and future demand for memory care.
It is clear that senior living companies that are or poised to become leaders in the industry share a common goal of improving the lives of residents’ by upgrading services and amenities. There are new approaches to memory care by top senior living companies that will likely catch on in the coming decade, including:
Innovative Care Settings
Senior living companies are starting to get creative when it comes to their memory care models. For example, memory care in urban areas could benefit from a smaller, group home type setting as an alternative model. It is likely that there could also be a growing demand for a more intimate community catering to seniors suffering from dementia within an assisted living community; i.e. a small number of units that allows individuals and couples dealing with cognitive deficiencies has been successful for Presbyterian SeniorCare.
Improved Continuum Care
Senior living companies are starting to better educate their employees about dementia and as a result are beginning to offer increasingly sophisticated memory care for seniors – whether or not this is something the company specializes in. Senior living companies are beginning to tap into the increased medical expertise on dementia that is now available. The rising demand for memory care services is driving the race to offer the best care on the market.
Memory Care Specialists
People working in the senior healthcare industry are increasingly choosing careers in the field of memory care. Dementia-specific credentialing has caught on outside the United States, and is likely to catch on here. “From where we were 10 years ago to now, I think there’s more understanding that it is a specialized kind of care,” says Mary Underwood, vice president of memory care and resident experience at Maplewood Senior Living. “I think people now are choosing to do memory care as a career, versus getting stuck in it. Memory care is attracting passionate people, and I think that’s going to make for good care going forward.”
Preventing Memory Loss
As the medical community continues to gain a deeper understanding of memory loss, healthcare providers will likely cultivate lifestyle programs that are effective in slowing the development of memory loss and dementia. Health care providers are learning that there are lifestyle choices that can prevent or slow the progression of dementia – i.e. physical activity, social engagement, and brain fitness activities.
In the coming years, technology is likely to revolutionize the memory care industry and help seniors compensate for memory loss. For example, researchers are developing wearable cameras with facial recognition ability, and technology that can assess a person’s cognitive performance (i.e., whether they are having a good or bad memory day). At the Quality of Life Technology Center, researchers are currently studying how sensors in everyday objects could provide information on cognitive changes. The center is also working on developing website interfaces that will be easier for those with memory loss to use, as well as a study of how sensor technology can assist with the detection of depression in those with memory loss or dementia.
Contact Cambridge Realty Capital
Is your company ready to invest to prepare for the growing demand for memory care? If so, Cambridge Realty Capital’s financial experts are available to assist you with financing. We are dedicated to keeping you informed and streamlining every step of the loan application process. Contact us today.