The oldest members of the baby boom generation turn 65 this year. The U.S. Census counts those born from 1946 to 1964 at about 80 million, slightly more than a quarter of the population. Over the next several decades, unprecedented numbers will seek services from such organizations as the members of the Presbyterian Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (PAHSA).
“The greatest challenges are the greatest opportunities,” said John H. Cochrane III, president and CEO of be.group, formerly Southern California Presbyterian Homes. Building on its new name — as in “Be where you want to be; be what you want to be; etc.” — Cochrane added, “We have to listen, learn and respond quickly to this generation.”
Boomers see retirement less as the ultimate goal their parents sought, and more as the beginning of another 20-plus years of quality living. They expect to continue growing, exploring, learning and challenging themselves. And they’ll want to stay physically fit, intellectually engaged and socially connected.
“We will be accommodating a generation that does not accept the limits of aging, so our communities and services will be flexible and creative,” said David Kaasa, president and CEO of Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services (OPRS).
All three organizations are ramping up their home and community-based services, offering personal care, medication management, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, companions, on-call nurses, adult day centers and hospice. Requests for these services are rising each month.
“Our strategic plan includes significant growth in our Optage division, which delivers myriad service options, including a menu of 80 home-delivered meals,” said Greg Carlson, executive director for partnered and affiliated Boards at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), which operates communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Senior Independence, an OPRS subsidiary, is Ohio’s largest not-for-profit provider of adult day centers. In California, be.group offers all the services available at its residential communities via be.at home.
“We need to go to where the boomers are, delivering services into homes, churches and community centers,” Cochrane said.
Deciding to give up a home may be the hardest choice older adults make. But when maintaining that home becomes a hindrance, they will seek a rich environment offering more independence. An organization that has been providing home care can help ease the transition to a senior living community.
be.group, OPRS and PHS are all are actively responding to the demographic and lifestyle trends. PHS is developing communities of wellness that focus on intellectual, social, vocational, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. OPRS is expanding and reinvesting in its continuing care retirement communities. And be.group continues to commit resources to residence communities, in ways consistent to their mission. Each organization offers, often within the same community, a gamut of housing and service options from townhomes and apartments, to assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care.
Amenities common to residences include computer centers and classes; libraries; lifelong learning seminars; fitness centers with trainers; arts and music cultural centers; fine dining; and spiritual life programming with ecumenical worship and memorial services.
As state and federal support for human services drops, paying for this care is a challenge. be.group, OPRS and PHS all have foundations that help fill the gaps through fundraising.
Recognizing that optimum care for clients depends on dedicated employees, these PAHSA members promote initiatives for continuing education, rewards and advancement.
“Our people have a need to serve others,” said Carlson.
JIM MACHOWSKI is a freelance writer based in Roseville, Minn., who has extensive experience covering older adult trends.