Housing boom? There's a senior-living housing boom as well

Published: Mar. 5, 2019 at 6:20 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

For years you've heard talk about a home-building boom in the area.

But there's also a building-boom of another kind.

Senior-living housing is popping up everywhere.

"I think it's because the baby-boomers are saturating the market," said Debbie Morrissey with the Senior Age Area Agency on Aging.

Debbie needs only to look out her office window to see an example of that growth as just across the street from the agency on aging near Fort and Sunshine is the excavation going on for an addition to the senior living-oriented housing at Elfindale. It's a $13 million assisted living center that's being added where there's already a sizeable retirement community.

That's just one of eight senior-related construction projects either planned or underway in the Springfield area alone like the Township, a $29 million apartment complex at the corner of Republic Rd. and West Bypass and Turner's Rock, a $30 million community of independent and assisted living residences just pass Highway 65 on East Sunshine.

Go east on Chestnut Expressway past the new Menard's and you'll notice some pasture land in northeast Springfield with a "SOLD" real estate sign right across from an entrance to Hickory Hills. It's just rolling hills surrounded by a wooden fence now, but in around two years it will be the home to Foster Senior Living's $30 million "Springhouse Village East" which will have assisted living, housing for those needing memory care, and 37 separate single-family units for independent living.

A one-stop-shop, if you will, for the aging process.

"We want to be able to take people who want to be independent and then as the age in place they're able to go into assisted living and if it comes to having some memory problems, there's a place available for that," explained John Foster with Foster Senior Living.

What research about the aging population has shown is that people want senior-living housing where they can maintain their independent lifestyle but get help with things they can't do.

"That's what a lot of us baby boomers want," Foster said with a smile. "Somebody to wait on us a little bit."

"One of the things we're learning is that it's best to move while you're still healthy," added Morrissey. "Downsize while you're healthy. You can move into this area where you have a community."

Certainly builders have taken notice that seniors do treasure that back porch sense of community. That's why more houses are being designed with that in mind.

"We have a concept that's called pocket-neighborhoods," said Susan Foster with Foster Senior Living and John's wife. "The back porches of their homes will face another one (porch of another house) so they can have that relationship with their neighbor."

"They're set up that way so there is more socialization," John added. "What we've found is when they're by themselves, they become isolated and I think it affects how they feel and sometimes when there's an accident no one's there to help them. With all of them being the same age, it's amazing how they all become bonded with each other in these communities. It's fun to watch."

So maybe the most important thing that will happen with this senior-living housing boom is that it will help calm a major fear that many of us have as we get into our twilight years.

"They're not going to have to worry about 'Where am I gonna go,'" John Foster said. "And I think that's really important for a person's psyche to feel like 'I'm not going to be left alone. There's going to be a place for me.'"