Local senior facilities prep for ‘silver tsunami’. Local senior housing groups and retirement homes are busy making plans to meet increased market demand as the baby boomer generation quickly approaches the 65 and older age designation.

“The silver tsunami of baby boomers is coming and we want to be ready for it,” said Jessica Lopez, executive director with The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens in Fresno.

The non-profit facility managed by the American Baptist Homes of the West is located in north Fresno and has more than 400 residents ranging from 68 to 102 years old.

Lopez said that for too long the senior care industry operated in a reactionary way, building new housing, updating facilities and offering services only after a demonstrated demand. As the largest generation in decades ages, that sort of mentality will no longer be effective.

“We had this hodgepodge of services built for what was needed in the moment,” Lopez said. “We’ve more recently switched to a pre-emptive approach.”

Anticipating the needs of senior citizens is particularly vital to retirement facilities in California, as the state has one of the largest senior citizen populations in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, over half of the nation’s 65 and older population is concentrated in 12 states, including more than 4.6 million in California. By 2040, an estimated 79.7 million seniors are expected to live in the U.S. and they are predicted to increasingly seek assisted-living facilities as they age.

Retirement facilities need to prepare as today’s senior citizens have a different set of needs and desires than previous elderly generations. Lopez said that meeting those expectations was at the forefront of The Terraces recent $121-million redevelopment project.

The project began more than five years ago and was planned with input from many of the facility’s residents. The redevelopment has helped convert most fourplexes into duplexes while also adding more housing units to the 25-acre property, giving seniors more private space.

Prior to the project, most buildings hadn’t been updated since the 1960’s. The renovation and addition of amenities like new dining options, gym, salon, spa, theater and library have all helped to do away with the institutional feeling, said Celeese Kai, community relations manager at The Terraces.

Now, the property seems to have more in common with a college campus than a retirement facility, a key factor in helping to meet the needs of residents.

“We really set a goal of creating a lifestyle of successful aging,” Lopez said. “We’re not a place where folks are here to grow old, we’re here for them to grow better.”

Unlike traditional retirement facilities, The Terraces is a continued care retirement community, offering several stages of independent and assisted living, including memory care services. Kai said that by offering various levels of assistance, the facility is able to serve the needs of residents as they age, ensuring they can comfortably remain in the same place for the entirety of their retirement.

“Essentially it means they don’t have to keep moving as their needs change. We provide an easy transition between the communities,” she said.

Resident comfort is expected to be a major factor when baby boomers make their decision on where to spend their golden years. That’s why the luxurious lifestyle offered by Oakmont of Fresno has already appealed to so many within the Fresno area.

The facility won’t open until March but is already at 60 percent capacity for it’s 75,000-square-foot community. Oakmont will have 56 assisted living and 23 memory care units with floor plans ranging from 400 to 1,192-square-feet.

“With the baby boomers coming we wanted to open this location and prepare,” said Valerie Epps, executive director of Oakmont of Fresno. “It’s helping to pave the way for that generation.”

Founded by the Gallaher family, Santa Rosa-based Oakmont Management Group operates 15 luxury senior living centers throughout California and has assisted in the development of 40 retirement homes throughout the western United States.

The facility at 5605 N. Gates Ave. will be the group’s first in the Central Valley and Epps said Oakmont chose to open in northwest Fresno after seeing a growing need for retirement housing in the area.

“Our market research showed that this particular part of Fresno is underserved for seniors,” she said. “And there are currently no other luxury senior housing developments in the surrounding area.”

By offering services like an on-site concierge physician, diabetic treatment program with nurses and a dietician and rejuvenation area, Oakmont ensures that seniors will be able to relax while also taking care of their medical needs.

Additional amenities include a full fruit orchard, dog park, movie theater, chauffeur service and meals prepared by a local fine-dining chef.

“It’s almost like being on a cruise ship,” Epps said.

That cruise ship experience comes at a price however, and living arrangements run from $2,295 to $7,895 a month depending on which floor plan a resident chooses. Most seniors coming to Oakmont are making the decision with their families and about half are coming directly from another retirement facility, Epps said.

While The Terraces would not disclose their pricing options, Kai said the nonprofit does offer benevolent care for seniors who want to continue their stay but have run out of funds. In addition, most residents have come to the retirement facility on their own initiative and enter into the independent living program.

“Our residents are planners. They’ve been through this with their own parents and know the process. They want to take care of it themselves so their kids don’t have to,” she said.