By Marjorie Rice
The forward edge of the baby boom has reached retirement age, and this wave of new retirees is expected to engulf services for seniors in the coming decades. Economists call it the “Silver Tsunami.”
Many of these boomers themselves have elderly parents, and one of their biggest concerns is how—and where—Mom and Dad will spend their later years.
Their parents want to live independently for as long as possible. Yet the time inevitably comes when it’s necessary for them to downsize—to move from a sprawling family home, say, to a more manageable residence offering the comfort, security and services necessary to extend those independent years.
Timing that change—and finding the right location and type of residence—can be a challenge for the whole family.
In Scottsdale the Sierra Pointe apartment rental retirement community has provided independent and assisted living in a resort atmosphere for 13 years, says Marketing Director Peter Lesio.
“One thing that sets us apart is how people find us. Generations ago you had an extended family where the elders lived with you. Nowadays that doesn’t happen,” Lesio says. “People coming in the front door in areas such as Sun City are the actual potential residents, and then they tell their children about their choice. Here it’s the reverse because Scottsdale is not a retirement city the way Sun City was set up. Instead, we have the adult sons or daughters who are the anchor. We target our marketing to that 55- to 65-year-old adult child. They screen the top two or three choices, then they bring mom or dad or both in to make the final selection.
“We say it’s a decision the whole family can feel good about.”
That’s more than just a marketing slogan for Sierra Pointe. Nearly 90 percent of the residents have an adult child living within five to 10 miles.
The property makes a luxe first impression, with a spacious foyer featuring plush furnishings, rich finishes and inviting areas for coffee and conversation. The atmosphere is one of a posh hotel.
Down one corridor is the Pinnacle dining room, whose interior rivals that of a fine restaurant. Upstairs, the Camelback bistro and lounge offers a spot for sunrise coffee or to wrap up the day with a cocktail or glass of wine.
The property also sports a library, activities center, bridge and game rooms, a health and wellness center, movie theater, beauty salon, pool and exercise area. Scattered throughout are comfy conversation nooks and tables for reading and puzzles. Inside the onsite wellness center, a nurse visits twice a week as a complimentary service, in addition to a visiting doctor, dentist and other health professionals whose services are paid for by the residents through their individual insurance.
Residents also enjoy a full calendar of classes, games, exercise sessions, excursions to restaurants, theaters and casinos. About twice a week, speakers make presentations on subjects such as symphonic music, health issues, fine art and safety.
It’s kind of like a cruise ship that never leaves port—there even are visiting vendors who bring in jewelry, purses, fashions and other items for in-house shopping.
“We have about 200 residents in our independent living area, with an average age of about 85—ranging from as young as their 70s to as old as 100,” Lesio says. “Another 35 residents are in our assisted living apartments, and their average age is about 90. They’re served by our 95 employees.”
People come to Sierra Pointe because someone else is cooking, cleaning and taking care of things, Lesio adds. “It’s a great lifestyle for those who can afford it.”
Apartments range from about 600 square feet to 1,450 square feet in the independent living area—smaller in the assisted living area. Rents range from $3,745 to $7,250 for a single. The rate for a second occupant is $600 a month. Residents also pay a one-time community fee of $4,500, and a Scottsdale renter’s tax of 1.65 percent. Tips are not allowed.
Rent includes cable TV, housekeeping, concierge services, parking, 30 meals per month per person (additional meals can be purchased), free continental breakfast Monday through Friday, full apartment maintenance, emergency response systems in each apartment, utilities (except for telephone), and transportation, which includes cars and drivers for individual trips and buses for group outings.
Apartments are leased for a year, while assisted living is, by law, month-to-month and averages about $5,000 a month. Assisted living rent includes all meals, laundry and assistance with bathing and grooming, medications and other daily activities.
“I think of our independent living area as a glorified apartment complex mixed together with a Ritz-Carlton,” Lesio says. “We combine the luxury, amenities and attention to detail you’d expect at a resort, with the warmth and comfort you feel in your own home.”