Health & Family

Aldersgate plans $70 million expansion for senior living

Dessert is served after lunch to John Wellborn, left, Rebecca Grant, Joyce Cox, Scottie Wellborn, and John Soileau at Aldersgate retirement center on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. The facility is announcing a massive new expansion on the east side of Charlotte.
Dessert is served after lunch to John Wellborn, left, Rebecca Grant, Joyce Cox, Scottie Wellborn, and John Soileau at Aldersgate retirement center on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. The facility is announcing a massive new expansion on the east side of Charlotte. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Aldersgate, Charlotte’s largest Continuing Care Retirement Community is planning a $70 million dollar expansion in east Charlotte as demand grows for housing and services in the senior market.

As a silver tsunami of baby boomers ages into life after 60, their desire for choice is redefining the retirement living landscape in Charlotte and across the country. Today’s seniors look for options in everything from floor plans to fee plans, wellness programming, recreation, community involvement, and healthcare.

To that end, Aldersgate is adding 62 new residences, a new skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, expanded memory care support, and amenities such as underground parking, a meditation garden and prayer labyrinth.

The nonprofit, originally known as The Methodist Home, sits on a 234-acre campus on Charlotte’s east side. They are currently home to 450 seniors and serve an additional 600 annually through short-term rehabilitative care. They employ 430.

Remaining at home is not always the first choice for some seniors looking for social outlets and living amenities, said Hillary Kaylor, regional ombudsman with the Centralina Area Agency on Aging.

“Seniors today... want a spectrum of services like recreational activities, access to shopping, outings and healthcare,” Kaylor said. “Assisted living, in-between independent living and a nursing home, has promoted the fact that there are a number of choices to consider.”

Continuing care complexes are attractive options as a continuum of options is offered in one location. Independent living, assisted living, memory care, and rehabilitative care are offered with meal plans, and a variety of services such as transportation, housekeeping, recreation, laundry and wellness programs.

Suzanne Hodge Pugh, president and CEO, said Aldersgate recognized in 2011 that demographics were evolving in the Charlotte market and that it was time to change with them.

“Boomers are not a homogeneous group in terms of their wants, desires, and needs for senior living,” she said. “This was a push for us to redefine what we’ve always been. We also knew our location presented challenges as we looked at options. The first question asked by our strategic planning team was, ‘Do we stay or do we go?’”

With consideration of their vast acreage and support from community partners including the city, county and Foundation For the Carolinas, Aldersgate decided to invest in place and work to more broadly serve the community through outreach programs and service offerings.

“We experienced a philosophical shift that not only are we going to stay,” said Pugh, “But we’re going to be a catalyst for change, embrace our location, and create community connections to not only redefine Aldersgate but also help reenergize east Charlotte.”

They look to build on existing community outreach such as providing meals for the local Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and opening up their green space to children from the nearby Johnston YMCA.

Variable fees

Retirement community fees vary depending on housing options and services. Many independent living options have one-time partially refundable entrance fees and monthly service fees, depending on the refund percentage chosen upon buy-in. Assisted living and memory care options are typically priced with monthly rates varying based upon level of care. “It is not uncommon for seniors to finance their retirement living with equity from a home sale,” said Kaylor.

At Aldersgate, current entrance fees for independent living options range from $82,500 to $479,000 with monthly fees ranging from $1,785 to $4,514. Entrance fee refund options are 0, 50, and 90 percent. Assisted living rates are from $4,531 to $6,374 monthly. Skilled nursing facility daily rates are $253-$287.

Aldersgate began construction on memory care suites in June. A second phase of construction on the new skilled nursing facility is scheduled for later this year. The final phase of development of independent living villas and apartments is anticipated for completion in early 2018.

‘Community Conversations’

Aldersgate is hosting a “Community Conversations” series featuring senior living experts and exploring practices of age-friendly communities.

The first event is Sept. 22, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Aldersgate. 3800 Shamrock Drive. Admission is free, but seating is limited; call Amanda Finnen at 704-532-7099 to reserve; www.aldersgateccrc.com.

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