Limited Housing Options for Cobb County Seniors As 65+ Population Increases.
In recognition of the unprecedented growth in the country’s senior population, national, state, regional and local entities are working hard to evaluate and find solutions for the housing, transportation and health care needs of the rapidly increasing number of older Americans.
U.S. – According to a 2014 report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation, Housing America’s Older Adults – Meeting the Needs of An Aging Population, the number of adults in the U.S. aged 50 and over is expected to reach 132 million by 2030.
Cobb County – U.S. Census Bureau reports (via Nielsen’s Senior Life Report) indicate there are currently over 50,000 residents aged 65+ within a defined market area in Cobb County (including Marietta and Roswell). This population is expected to grow by more than 30% to approximately 65,000 in 2018. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the senior population in Cobb County will double in the next 17 years. East Cobb is already home to the densest population of those 65+ in all of Cobb County.
In view of this ‘silver tsunami,’ the housing needs and demands of the 65 and older population in Cobb County will soon outstrip the supply of senior housing available here. As reported by Andersen-Benson Consulting, Cobb County currently has a 53% lag in independent senior living availability compared to metro Atlanta and other metro areas throughout the U.S.
“The entire region needs to prepare for this tremendous growth in our senior population,” says Kathryn Lawler, Manager, Aging and Health Resources Division of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). “We have to be more responsive to the needs of modern seniors who live longer. Many want to age in place in the communities they helped build, and where they raised their families.”
Lawler continues: “We need to reimagine what senior housing for seniors may be. We need to build a wider range of housing solutions – to suit a wider range of needs that seniors and their families have.”
With regard to housing solutions for Cobb County Seniors, assisted living is currently the primary option available to Cobb County seniors who wish to move from their home to a senior community in East Cobb. There are no continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in East Cobb, and only one in the entire county.
What Is a CCRC?
A CCRC is a residential community offering independent homes enhanced by onsite amenities such as dining, activities, entertainment, fitness and wellness. In addition to these amenities, a CCRC also provides health services including assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing, which enables Members of the community to age in place.
As needs change, the CCRC resident can take advantage of a continuum of care without having to move to a new facility. For senior couples who age in different ways at different times, this housing solution will allow them to continue to live within the same community.
Close to family
According to AARP: “These communities (CCRCs) give older adults the option to live in one location for the duration of their life, with much of their future care already figured out. This can provide a great level of comfort to both parents and their families and take much of the stress out of the caregiving relationship.”
To this, Lawler adds, “The older population and their adult children play a critical part in the health of our region – they shape our region’s economy. The entire community benefits when the needs of seniors are met and when it is easy and convenient for families to stay engaged in their care. To have a variety of senior housing options available right in the county where seniors wish to stay and age in place will make a major difference for seniors and their adult children – and ultimately for the whole area.”
“Seniors who have lived, worked and raised their children here would welcome the opportunity to stay in the area. Many of us have children and grandchildren living in East Cobb. A continuing care retirement community would give seniors the option of moving to a neighborhood in the same area in which they are familiar. They can remain members of their church or synagogue, keep their physicians who they have been with for years, and continue to support favorite local shops. Most importantly, they will be able to easily visit with family and lifelong friends.” – Martha and Joe Cavanaugh.
CCRC Zoning in Cobb County
Local governments have been proactive in developing specific zoning ordinances to allow for and/or attract the development of CCRCs – which is what Cobb County did in 2008.
Almost a decade ago, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners invited a group of representatives from the development community, community leaders and Cobb County residents to develop a specific CCRC zoning category, the Continuing Care Retirement Community District. Currently, CCRC is allowed within a Low Density Residential (LDR) zone.
CCRCs were first built in the United States in the 1970s and increased in popularity throughout the Sunbelt during the 1980s. There are over 2000 CCRCs in the United States and approximately 17 in Georgia, where CCRCs are licensed and regulated by the Georgia Department of Insurance. There is an industry group that accredits CCRCs called the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC).
Proposed Tritt Walk CCRC Offers Desirable Option for ‘Aging in Place’
Tritt Walk is a CCRC under development in East Cobb that would offer a much-needed alternative for the residents of the area as well as their families. As proposed by the Atlanta-based developer Isakson Living, it will include senior housing solutions that East Cobb needs – independent living as well as assisted living and nursing options, all available in one community to serve the residents along a continuum of care – as their needs change. Tritt Walk will truly allow its residents to “age in place.”
The proposed site for Tritt Walk is located at 3540 Roswell Road in Marietta.
“We wish to express our support for the Isakson Living Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Admittedly, we are biased future occupants, but feel certain that this project is worthy of positive consideration and support. Many people like us (married now 52 years) have lived in the East Cobb Community for over 43 years. While we have witnessed the explosive growth to our community, we still love it here near to our family and many friends, and we remain hopeful that we can spend our remaining years here in our beloved community.” – Jim and Charlotte Sneed.