A Place to Call Home: Options for Senior Living

By Angela Lindsay

As the aging population has sharply increased, so has the need for residential options for seniors. In fact, the real estate market for people 55 and over in Charlotte is booming. In 2015, about 20 percent of county residents were over age 55, up from about 16 percent in 2000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people in Mecklenburg County aged 65 and older, the primary demographic for most senior housing, has shot up by more than 27 percent from 2010 to 2015. This dramatic rise has prompted the demand for and subsequent explosion in senior living residences in the city.

There are 78 nursing homes in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Of these, five received an overall top performing rating by U.S. News & World Report for 2017-18. On a scale of one to five (poor to top performing), the following received a rating of five: The Steward Health Center in Charlotte, Sharon Towers in Charlotte, the Jesse Helms Nursing Center in Monroe, the North Carolina Veterans State Hospital in Salisbury, and WillowBrooke Court Skilled Care Center for Seniors in Matthews. To qualify as a Best Nursing Home, facilities had to earn an average rating of 4.5 out of five during 10 months of federal reports ending in August 2017, and consistently meet performance standards set by U.S. News, such as earning at least a four overall rating for all 10 months by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the federal agency that sets and enforces standards for nursing homes).

For more than a decade, the state has paid about $33 daily per client for adult day care and about $40 for adult day health care at a center that employs a registered nurse, according to northcarolinhealthnews.org. Most of the money for adult day care comes from the state’s federally-mandated Home and Community Care Block Grants, it reports, and that pot of about $33 million has to cover services from Meals on Wheels to in-home care, and many more, across 100 counties.

As times have changed, residents in Charlotte now have an increasing range of options for senior living, such as small townhouses, for-sale condominiums, for-sale single family houses such as those found at Trilogy Lake Norman or Cresswind and rental apartments such as those at Anita Stroud Senior Apartments. While several existing senior communities such as Aldersgate and Sharon Towers are expanding, many of the newer facilities are not at all like your grandmother’s nursing home.

Many adult residences have become more luxurious, replete with high-end amenities and noninstitutional active and social options, such as Tai Chi gardens, spas, meditation spaces, multiple dining options and even shared office space for seniors who want to keep working part-time. It’s no longer a “one size fits all” proposition, as evidenced at Imagery by Lennar Homes, which is in construction on Mountain Island Lake. The community boasts that it is a place “where adult living isn’t a lifestyle, it’s an art form” and challenges would-be residents to “get ready to re-imagine your active adult life.” The two- to-four-bedroom homes at Imagery, some with lakefront views, will range from 1,400 to 4,000 square feet, and come equipped with hardwood floors, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, tankless water heaters, yard maintenance and other amenities. Imagery also offers activities such as boating, tennis, pickleball, bocce, hiking trails, painting and pottery and contains a resort-style pool, clubhouse and lakeside beach.

The rental apartments at University Square offer a hair salon, interior mailboxes, movie theater, fitness room and transportation access. There are also mixed-use developments cropping up, as well as age-restricted housing being built alongside regular apartments and houses, such as Rea Farms. That can help reduce a sense of isolation and allows seniors to still enjoy community access and recreation.

So, if and when the time comes to think about where your parents or even yourself may want to reside after retirement, the good news is that Charlotte has alternatives to satisfy a variety of needs and requirements without seniors having to sacrifice the lifestyles and level of care that residents desire.