America is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Population Projections, in the next few decades, 1 in every 5 residents will be older than age 65, a number that’s projected to outpace those younger than 18 for the first time in history.
“There are 10,000 people turning 65 every day in our country,” notes Sharon Harper, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Plaza Companies, which develops and manages three retirement communities in Arizona: Vi at Grayhawk and Vi at Silverstone, both in Scottsdale, and Splendido at Rancho Vistoso in Tucson. “By 2050, the senior population will have doubled to 90 million.” More specifically, the number of adults ages 85 and older will nearly quadruple. And as people age, their needs — from housing to wellness — change. To keep up with these ever-shifting lifestyles, senior living communities are also evolving, offering innovative care models, an abundance of amenities and levels of luxury previously unheard of in both independent- and assisted-living environments.
Focus on Location
Traditionally, age-restricted communities were located outside of urban centers, but members of the baby boomer generation — now ages 57-75 — don’t wish to give up all of the conveniences and activities of everyday life.
When Mirabella at ASU welcomed its first residents in December 2020, it signaled an exciting new category of senior living. Developed in partnership with the ASU Foundation, the 630,000-square-foot 20-story high-rise complex sits on university land and caters to adults ages 62 and older who wish to maintain an active and intellectually stimulating lifestyle. “There’s a certain energy that comes with living on a university campus,” says Paul Riepma, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Pacific Retirement Services. “Arizona State University’s vision was to serve a broader community, not just 18-to-22-year-olds. Each person who lives here has a Mirabella at ASU student ID card that provides them access to about 200 different classes, passes to the school’s library and museums, and preferred seating to entertainment and sporting events.”
In 2014, LivGenerations opened its first Valley community in the heart of Agritopia in Gilbert. The desirable garden neighborhood is not only popular with young families but also provides easy access to numerous restaurants, golf, shopping and transportation. The company is currently completing construction on its fourth Arizona development. Located on Mayo Boulevard, it’s minutes away from Mayo Clinic and near an active corner of North Scottsdale Road. “We really thought methodically about where we’re going to place our communities,” says Sonya Paterno, regional director of sales for LivGenerations. “The traditional model of senior living isn’t what people want these days. We still cater to a mature population in a communal-type setting, but the residents want to have fun and have access to all of the amenities they’re used to.”
Along with location, seniors expect to maintain the same high level of comfort they experienced in their family homes. They seek boutique offerings that focus on unique experiences rather than one-size-fits-all decor and dining.
At Mirabella at ASU, living quarters are on par with the Valley’s poshest apartment complexes, with high ceilings, walls of windows and top-notch appointments. Founding residents were able to suggest structural changes to their homes, such as the removal of walls, and select lighting, cabinetry and finishes.
Sagewood, a Life Plan Community recently completed a 3.5-acre expansion at its northeast Phoenix property, which included 101 independent living apartments, a new restaurant, conference and game rooms, an art studio and an 18-hole putting course. Residents in the addition could upgrade everything from…