The number of folks between the ages of 65 and 84 will increase by a whopping number — almost 40 percent — between 2010 and 2020, according to Uncle Sam.

Not all of those people will be able to stay in their homes. Some will depend on the care of family and outside caregivers. Others will need the special ministrations provided by 24-hour nursing care or Alzheimer’s care.

Caught between the two extremes are those who want to hang on to their independence, enjoy social interaction, as well as good food and activities, but might need someone to help with dressing, housekeeping, meals, transportation and remembering to take their medicine.

Baby Boomers, stubborn about their independence, are looking for places that remind them of home rather than an institution. As a result, amenities at evolving retirement communities include spas, beauty salons, indoor pools, pet-friendly accommodations and a full complement of leisure activities. No rocking chairs, thank you very much.

Increasingly many are turning to assisted living facilities, designed to provide independence with a little help on the side such as Ethos Senior Living, newly-opened in Florence.

“We are not a medical facility. We are a social model,” says co-owner Gary Bowman of the combined independent and assisted living facility. “We pride ourselves in amenities like a theater, restaurant-style dining, an equipped fitness center, a full-time activities center.”

Assisted living facilities, with a definition that can vary from state to state, have grown to 36,000 with about 1 million beds in the U.S., almost triple their number in 1998 according to a national study by the U.S Department of Health and Human
Services...with revenues of about $36.8 billion.

They can be activities devoted solely to assisted living, combined with independent living, or part of a continuing care system in which residents can move from independent living to assisted living to nursing care on one campus according to need.

Northern Kentucky now have four state-certified assisted living facilities listed with the Kentucky Assisted Living Facilities Association, according to Chet Mitchell, executive director of the group that represents assisted living and other senior housing communities in the Commonwealth and is associated with the Assisted Living Federation of America.

Kentucky defines assisted living communities as those providing each client with a separate living unit that includes a lockable door and private bathroom. Residents, who must be mobile or mobile non-ambulatory (able to get around with a wheelchair or walker unassisted) can get assistance with self-administered medicine as well as meals, housekeeping, transportation, laundry and clerical services. The Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living conducts annual certification reviews.

ETHOS SENIOR LIVING
Ethos Senior Living, the new kid on the Northern Kentucky block, opened in January, one of four assisted living centers in the tri-county Northern Kentucky area. Others are Barrington in Fort Thomas, Atria Summit Hills in Crestview Hills and Atria Highland Crossing in Fort Wright.

“We felt there was a tremendous need in the area from the population and demographics,” says Bowman, who owns the Louisville-based Ethos Senior Living company with Tom Musselman and Tom Musselman Jr. They also have a facility in Mount Washington, Ky., and plan to break ground soon on another in Louisville.

“It’s a major decision to leave home for a facility,” he says. “We appreciate that so we strive to make our residents feel at home as much as possible. We tried, even in the early stages of the building decision, to make it feel warm, welcoming like their home, as much as possible.”

PATIOS, COURTYARDS AND A CHEF
There are patios for family gatherings, garden courtyards, chef-prepared meals, walking paths and a hair salon.

The home environment carries over to the staff as well, he says, and safety and security are of top importance.

“It’s really a fun atmosphere. There’s so much to offer.”

The new Ethos, on Main Street near the Florence Post Office, offers 100 units with three floor plans and memory care studios for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS AND GARDENS
6900 Hopeful Road
Florence, KY 41042
(859) 525-6900
www.colonialheightsandgardens.com

EMERITUS AT EDGEWOOD
2950 Turkeyfoot Road
Edgewood, KY 41017
(859) 426-1888
www.emeritus.com

MADONNA MANOR
2344 Amsterdam Road
Villa Hills, KY 41017
(859) 341-3981
www.madonnamanor.org