Aegis Pilots Wellness Program in ‘Grand Experiment’ at New Community

Aegis Living is piloting a resident-centered wellness program at its newest senior living community in a sign of things to come for the company’s entire 33-property portfolio.

Under the new pilot, Aegis residents will work with the community’s staff to personalize their wellness plans according to their own health priorities. For instance, a resident who wants to get a better night’s rest can work with the operator on sleep-centric breathing and meditation practices or nutritional plans.

While the provider is initially “going deep” on two areas of focus, nutrition and sleep, Aegis President Kris Engskov told SHN the pilot will eventually expand into other areas of wellness. And ultimately, the pilot could result in any number of programs and practices.

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“This is a grand experiment in many ways,” Engskov said.

Aegis is launching the pilot at Aegis Living Bellevue Overlake, a new 122-apartment community in the Bellevue, Washington-based company’s backyard. The community is the provider’s 33rd overall. The first residents moved in on Saturday.

The community incorporates many aspects of biophilic design, such as a lobby with a glass solarium with six-foot palm trees, a waterfall and a koi pond. Aegis Living Bellevue Overlake also has a “wellness corridor” with access to massage services, a balance studio and a saltwater pool. Other amenities include a living room, juice bar, two lounges, a movie theater and activity center, a salon, multiple dining venues and a repurposed seaplane for memory care residents.

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That wellness-focused design makes the community an optimal staging ground for the new pilot, Engskov said.

“We had already designed much of our wellness thinking into this community from a design perspective,” he added. “It turned out to be the right community at the right time.”

While the pilot is still in its early stages, the grand plan is to use preliminary findings to inform wellness programming at the company’s other senior living communities. Along the way, the company will collect data on residents’ wellbeing, such as their sleep patterns.

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“We want to take our time to learn, and this is just the first step in a years-long journey,” Engskov said.

For Aegis, the wellness pilot represents many years of work and learning. Though wellness has long been a focus of the company’s founder and CEO, Dwayne Clark, it wasn’t until he began working on his book 30 Summers More that the idea began to take shape.

“He realized in doing all this research [for the book] that it had much broader applicability,” Engskov said. “You saw the scope to the book expand because of that, but then a lot of the content was directly applicable in our environments.”

Looking ahead, Aegis is planning to launch a similar pilot at its Kirkland Waterfront community set to open in Kirkland, Washington, this summer. And Engskov teased the company was “bringing in some really world class expertise to help us continue this journey.”

“The intent is to transform the company from an assisted living company to a wellness company over some period of time,” Engskov said. “This is just the first step in that journey.”

Aegis is not alone in pursuing wellness-focused senior living. Wellness is an area of study for Mather Institute and Northwestern University; it’s also a core focus for Watermark Retirement Communities.

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