Is the Senior Living Building Boom “Feeding the Dinosaur” or Filling Demand?

A senior housing building boom in one Canadian county has sparked a debate whether the assisted living, independent living, and memory care units currently in the development pipeline will merely “feed the dinosaur” of an outmoded care model and join multiple similar facilities already in existence, or actually fill a need for new development.

The Columbian reports

[A]s the $34 million in construction is just getting started, some local experts question whether there will be enough business to fuel the expansion. Some point to evolving technologies in health care and patient monitoring that are enabling seniors to stay at home longer. Others worry that Clark County’s market for costly senior living is being overbuilt at a time when the elderly and the up-and-coming baby boom generation are struggling to rebound from the recession.


“I call it feeding the dinosaur,” said Randy Scheel, co-owner of three Vancouver-based communities that offer care to seniors. “There are going to be facilities going out of business across the country and in our own community. To a great extent, the premise is based on an outmoded model of care.”

The view isn’t shared by the Portland-based developers of Elite Care, a $14 million community in Vancouver that will specialize in care for individuals with advanced Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The company is building a 48-unit community on Northeast 112th Avenue called Elite Care at Sylvan Park, where an on-site gardening program will encourage senior residents to stay active and help provide nutritious meals.

“When we did a survey, we found there is a real need for our company in Clark County,” said Justin Adams, the company’s creative director. “There’s a lot of assisted living and a lot of adult homes, but in terms of the things Elite Care offers, its nonexistent.”


Adams said demand for Elite Care’s service is being driven by the desire of baby boomers to have their elderly parents living nearby and by today’s longer-living older population.

Despite growing demographic demand, some recognize potential issues in filling up assisted living communities thanks to falling home values and dwindling stock portfolios, the article reports, adding that the downturn has already affected the independent living market. 

This may feed into Scheel’s expectation that there will be an increase in telemedicine. He calls systems that allow seniors to track their their health at home while being monitored remotely the “future of health care.”

“We’re seeing that many people who used to be in traditional nursing care can now be cared for at a lower level of care,” Scheel is quoted as saying in the article, contributing to his doubt over the rush to build more senior communities based on traditional models of care.

Read more at The Columbian.

Written by Alyssa Gerace