Baby boomers have spent much of their lives expecting to have things their way. Just because the vanguard of the generation is approaching 70 doesn’t mean that will change.

The government estimates that between 200,000 and 300,000 people are retiring each month.

One in eight people in the U.S. is over 65. By 2030, that ratio will be one in five.

Numbers like that have consequences, including retirement security, housing and care. It is — pardon the pun — a booming business. There are many companies and organizations that provide independent living, assisted living, nursing and memory care facilities.

Planning is Key

Although recent retirees might not plan to move out of their homes soon, research should be part of everyone’s plan.

“Most people are going to want to stay in their homes,” says Janet Borton, the administrator of Covington Ladies Home, a personal care facility housed in a 19th-century mansion in the city’s Licking River Historic District.

“But the impact of that on long-term care is that many people are going to come to us in worse shape.”

That is a concern, and a reason why planning for long-term care should be part of the discussion in each family.

As with any life-changing event, it helps to have expert advice from people who have experience.

On the website of Atria Senior Living, a private company that runs Highland Crossing in Fort Wright and Summit Hills in Crestview Hills, is a link to “Having the Talk.”

Fear of losing one’s independence is natural for elderly people, but Borton says there are advantages to moving to a facility sooner rather than later.

“(The person) would have assimilated, they would make friends, become comfortable, get in the flow of the home and it wouldn’t be a difficult transition,” she says.

At Covington Ladies Home, for example, the 32 women who live there have at least one thing in common.

“You have to be able to walk,” Borton says. “You can’t be in a wheelchair because of our building.

“They’re all different — as young as 62 and as old as 98; she’ll be 99 in August and I don’t expect her to go anywhere else soon.”



Spectrum of Care

Atria offers independent and assisted living options, plus memory care at Summit Hills. The company, which has properties in 27 states, is aware of the demographics.

“We are currently in the process of building one community,” says Suzanne Dean, regional vice president of the Midwest Region. “As a company, we will continually evaluate the needs of the growing senior population.”

In addition to buildings, more caregivers will be needed if the number of residents begins to climb sharply.

“Recruiting and retaining knowledgeable, experienced employees is a top priority for Atria,” Dean says. “While we don’t have a specific number to share, staffing needs are examined on a community by community basis.”



Different Amenities

The good news for incoming seniors is that they have options. If they are tired of maintaining a house, independent living facilities offer the amenities of their own home without the obligations. If they need help with daily care, transportation or just want someone the keep on eye on them, assisted living might be the best choice.

Borton hopes those options remain available. The administrator, whose first paying job was taking care of an elderly neighbor, has been in the field for most of her life.

“(I hope) that we keep our commitment to seniors, that people aren’t caught off guard when they’re facing their retirement years,” Borton says. “I’m in that boat, I’m in my 50s. Don’t have that expectation, then start talking about pulling away services that we’ve worked our whole lives for.

“I fully expect to get Medicare when I retire, I fully expect to get my Social Security. There’s a reason we started those things. As a nation, we agreed that we don’t want to see seniors eating cat food.”

Borton won’t get an argument from her baby boomer brethren, who are watching the national debate over the cost of those programs. But money alone doesn’t guarantee quality care. It takes people like her who are committed to the cause.

“We have a mission here,” she says. “We’re not perfect, but we try. If you know you’re doing the right thing, it does resonate, and I think you do feel pretty good at the end of the day.”