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Senior care facilities on rise; some debate need


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In the past three years, the north side of the county has become a hot spot for facilities offering senior housing and medical care.

Spurred by an aging population and residents’ desire to stay in one place as they need increasing medical care over time, four facilities offering independent living and assisted living have been built in the Center Grove area. All of the new facilities were built and others are planned within a seven-mile area along State Road 135.

Between assisted-living apartments with progressive levels of nursing care and nursing home rooms, the facilities can house more than 400 residents and offer jobs for about 370 employees.

The new facilities offer options for families seeking housing for aging parents and grandparents, including around-the-clock nursing care, studio and two-bedroom apartments, and locked building wings for patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The care offered for residents ranges from a daily visit to ensure they’re taking their medicines to help with bathing and getting dressed to continuous nursing care.

Developers believe the Center Grove area, which currently has more than 150 assisted-living apartments that stay full almost continually, has enough residents to keep more buildings full. Two facilities have opened since 2011, and two more are planned to open in the next two years.

Some facilities don’t offer long-term skilled nursing care or on-site rehabilitation, a need developers sought to fill with Aspen Trace, which is scheduled to open in May but can provide short-term health care services for residents of assisted-living apartments.

“Specifically for long-term care and rehabilitation, there really aren’t any options available in the Center Grove and Bargersville area,” said Susan Bonner, spokeswoman for Aspen Trace.

The new facilities aim to attract the aging Johnson County population, which is growing and expected to double within the next 15 to 20 years, Indiana Business Research Center demographer Matt Kinghorn said. Currently, 18,636 members of the county’s population are age 65 or older, and by 2030 that will likely be 33,986 people, or 19 percent of the population, he said.

Increased competition

The demand for senior-focused housing will increase as more baby boomers reach their 60s and look to downsize their homes, he said.

The Greenwood and Center Grove facilities also compete with Franklin, which has two of the largest assisted-living facilities in the county. Indiana Masonic Home offers independent-living, assisted-living and skilled-nursing options. Franklin United Methodist Community offers a similar range of care, with houses, apartments and nursing home living space for about 600 residents on a 122-acre campus.

Whether the Center Grove area has room for more assisted-living and nursing home buildings is a point of debate among local facilities.

The existing facilities already compete for residents who can pay for their own rent and medical care, and it will be harder to stay full with more housing options available, one facility representative said.

‘Stay close to home’

Assisted-living apartments and long-term nursing home rooms in the Center Grove area remain nearly 100 percent full, which shows there is space in the market, developer Mark Waterfill said. His goal is to build apartments that stay at least 85 percent full.

Johnson County’s fast-growing population means more families live in the area, and aging residents want to live near their children, he said. He plans to build Greenwood Senior Living, an assisted-living apartment complex, near Demaree Road and State Road 135, which would open in 2015. The facility will have 76 assisted-living apartments and 40 apartments for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

“Seniors often locate near their children and especially near the oldest daughter; and so when you have a substantial population, that provides more opportunities,” he said.

The Center Grove area is popular for assisted-living and nursing homes because State Road 135 has open land available to develop, and Greenwood has 250,000 people living within a 10-mile radius, said Christian Maslowski, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.

“When those folks do retire, they want to stay close to home,” he said.

‘Definitely a need here’

Bickford Senior Living is nearly half full with 24 residents after opening in November, and the company’s staff is seeing a demand for apartments with nurses who can offer varying levels of care and rooms with a homelike feel, community relations director Stacey Gallardo said.

“There’s definitely a need here. They want more of a premier style of assisted living. They want fireplaces, restaurant-style dining,” she said.

In the next two years, the Center Grove area should get at least 178 more senior apartments once Aspen Trace opens this May and Greenwood Senior Living opens in 2015.

Aspen Trace owner CarDon owns 46 acres along State Road 135, where it plans to open the new assisted-living facility this spring, so the company has room to expand. It plans eventually to build independent-living apartments and garden homes, Bonner said.

Residents who commute along State Road 135 or live in the Center Grove area, Bargersville and the southside of Greenwood want their senior family members to live nearby, she said.

“Families will visit their loved ones more often the closer it is to them and the better it fits their travel patterns,” she said.

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