Senior living options expand to meet demand

Posted: 09/09/2015
Author: Jocelyn Kerr - Community Impact Newspaper

Senior living options expand to meet demand

Senior adult living facilities of all types—from active lifestyle to assisted living to specialized memory care—are under construction in the Katy area. Houston has become a top national market for senior development, and that includes Katy.

“We track 99 independent living and nursing care markets across the country and Houston ranks third—only Chicago and Dallas outpace its growth,” said Chris McGraw, senior research analyst for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care. 

Senior living options expand to meet demand

Growth in the Katy area includes an increase in adult living facilities. Nationwide providers are entering the Katy market to meet the needs of active older adults as well as elderly residents. Design by Mary-Ann Zykin

The nonprofit organization has been tracking senior housing market data since 1993. It maintains occupancy and construction data for Houston sub-markets, including Katy.

“What sets [Katy] apart from a lot of areas—and this is a Texas trend in general—is there are good demographics. It helps the investment rates. The number of 75-plus [years of age] households is in the 3-4 percent range in Texas. Nationally it’s about 2 percent,” McGraw said. “There are also lower barriers to entry [in Texas], which makes it attractive to developers.” 

Construction boom

On July 30 Stream Realty Partners received approval to build a 10-acre, 150-unit 55-and-older adult living community on Cinco Ranch Boulevard near Falcon Landing. The residential project marks the first active adult lifestyle housing concept for the company, which until now has focused on large-scale commercial property management in the area.

Iggy Grillo, vice president of development for Stream, is spearheading the project. He said the shift toward active adult communities has grown as equity companies are looking to invest in facilities that cater to the aging baby boomer population and the growing number of people caring for elderly parents.

“As a 55-plus provider, it’s not very often people hate what you’re doing,” Grillo said. “[Homeowners associations] don’t like multifamily going up [in their neighborhood], but I think [residents say] instead of getting rid of older people, let’s keep them in the community.”

NIC data shows the Katy area has seen a 144 percent jump in the number of assisted living and nursing home units over the last five years.

McGraw said the national occupancy rate for adult living facilities is around 90 percent. In Katy that number is closer to 75 percent.

“There is a little more vacancy on average because there is a lot of supply entering the market,” he said.

Continuum of care

The active adult lifestyle concept is less service-based than traditional assisted living or specialized care facilities.

“We are active adult living—we do not offer meals or medicine,” Grillo said. “We offer a full social calendar paid for by the property—things like workout classes, cooking classes and happy hours at the wine bar. We’re for people who are active and engaged.”

A step beyond active living is an all-inclusive resort-style facility such as the Oak Park Retirement Community that broke ground July 30. The 130-unit project is the fourth in Texas from Lincoln, Nebraska-based Resort Lifestyle Communities.

“We know there’s a real need in Katy [for adult living facilities],” RLC marketing director Kelly Jo Hinrichs said at the ground breaking. “What we do is working, and we know we can do it at an affordable price.”

The resort-style concept is a one-price package that includes meals and limited medical care contracted out through third-party vendors. Hinrichs said the community offers an emergency call system and the ability to travel and stay at other facilities owned by the company.

The next level of care is assisted living, which offers on-site medical care and housekeeping services. Facilities such as The Orchard, which opened in June, combine assisted living with memory care. There are more than a dozen assisted living and memory care facilities operating in the Katy area.

“On average, asking rent is about $3,500 per month [at assisted living and nursing care facilities],” McGraw said.

Medicare surveys have shown caregivers spend more than 30 hours per week providing care at home and home health care costs are largely paid out of pocket.

“It’s about peace of mind,” Hinrichs said. “We believe [offering a month-to-month facility with no lease terms] makes us work harder to keep our residents.”

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