Senior Living CEOs Describe Their Dream Communities

Ask any two people in the senior living industry where they’d like to grow old and you’re likely to hear two wildly different answers.

After all, there’s a lot of interesting—and downright luxurious—choices available to seniors these days, from providers that offer dinner with wine pairings and state-of-the-art movie screening rooms to communities that have fully equipped fitness studios, indoor or heated pools and services like on-site pet grooming.

To find out what might come next, we asked executives from Solera Senior Living, Watermark Retirement Communities, Juniper Communities and Maplewood Senior Living to imagine their own personal dream communities.

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Here’s what they told us:

“My dream community would include an award winning resort-style spa, a wine cellar and a sommelier on staff, a cafe serving specialty teas and coffees, multiple restaurant venues (including an Italian restaurant with homemade pastas and a sushi bar) run by local acclaimed chefs, a pastry chef on staff for homemade breads and desserts, a golf simulator, an comfortable sports bar, a game room for the grandkids, a staff that is well trained in customer service and it would be located with views of the mountains and within close proximity to cultural and entertainment hubs.” — Adam Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Solera Senior Living

“After 30 years in the profession, Watermark actually had the unique opportunity to bring our ‘dream’ community to life – The Hacienda at the River. With pioneering innovations including ‘In the Presence of Horses’ equine therapy, collaborations with Healing Kitchens, the University of Arizona College of Integrative Nursing and other partners, we are seeing what once was only a dream, come to life. Going forward, we see an ever expanding use of technology in how we train, connect, learn and grow as communities and as a management company.” — David Barnes, President and CEO of Watermark Retirement Communities

“I’m thinking about compounds. Not chemical compounds, however. I really was lousy at the periodic tables. The compound I am thinking about will have 1,500-foot small houses. Most of the living space will be on a single floor. I imagine it might include a small loft either to be used as a workspace or for younger guests. What’s interesting about the compound is that all of the small houses will be connected via either a common back porch or a common front porch. Visiting but still maintaining privacy is key. What makes these compounds interesting, however, is that the people who live in them only live in their homes for somewhere between three and four months. Then they move to another compound in another part of the country.

The compounds I would choose must have a view of water and be somewhat near a town so that I can so have coffee, read the paper or just hang out at a local place with other people, preferably some who don’t live in our compound. Each of the compounds will have common space where a kitchen can serve meals and where we all can be together. Preferably, there will also be a bar. For me, I prefer a wine bar! Some of my fondest memories are from sitting around a cafeteria in graduate school drinking anything from tea to wine and talking about every subject imaginable into the wee hours of the night. I see no reason this can’t happen in one of our compounds. In fact, I’d be surprised if it didn’t.

The compound could function something like cohousing but with an easier financial and governance structure. My hope Is that there will be at least 20 smaller homes in each of the compounds. Each of the homes will be universally designed so they look like a home you would choose to live in now but actually have tech and accessible features. Design is really important to me and attention to detail is key.

But maybe it is more about chemistry. You see what I’m concerned about is the relationships I can build, maintain and share.” — Lynne Katzmann, President and CEO of Juniper Communities

“My ultimate aging environment is where people are able to live with the upmost dignity, enjoying their lifestyle by living the life they wish—and deserve—to live. An environment where there are no obstacles. Where one can enjoy nature, art, natural light. Aging is not an illness. It should not be seen as such. Age should be respected and embraced, no matter one’s limitations. A fine dining experience – using the very freshest ingredients possible—should be able to be enjoyed, no matter what ‘age,’ or physical and cognitive limitation. Operations should never be an obstacle. The best experience for the resident is not necessarily the easiest—or most efficient—to deliver. However, it should be the very best.” — Greg Smith, President and CEO of Maplewood Senior Living

Written by Tim Regan

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