Retirement living is going increasingly upscale with smaller communities, specialized care and resort-like amenities.

And Best of the North communities, which are experiencing a boom in new retirement living options, are no exception.

Part of it is simple demographics as the population of Butler and Warren counties has continued to grow.

“As the population migrates out this way, we’re following their footsteps. Our demographic is truly the adult children of seniors,” says Stuart Solomon, executive director of The Sheridan at Mason, a new Senior Lifestyle Corp. community near Deerfield Towne Center off Mason-Montgomery Road.

It’s both aging Baby Boomers looking for senior living options and adult children seeking nearby options for their parents, he says.

“The loved one usually doesn’t want to leave their home, but their adult children say, ‘OK, but it’s time,’” he says.

Opening this fall, The Sheridan at Mason features 101 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Sixty-eight units will be assisted living and 33 will be dedicated to memory care. That allows an age-in-place approach, Solomon says.

The units will have a traditional look with a modern twist, he says.

“Furnishings will look newer, more current, but with a home-like feel. There will be a lot of fireplaces and open spaces, and a lot of windows even in the apartments so it feels more open and airy,” Solomon says. “We’re a smaller community, which is nice, so we can be more personalized.”

Smaller and more personalized is the idea behind Otterbein Senior Living’s small neighborhood communities.

Otterbein has nine of the small neighborhood communities in Ohio including four in southwest Ohio. Each of the communities consists of five separate homes typically on a cul-de-sac street. Each home, which offers 24/7 skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services, has 10 residents. Each resident has their own room and bath and all the residents share a great-room, kitchen and den.

“This model tends to be healthier for people because it’s not set up like a hospital with rooms off a long hallway. Our goal is to de-institutionalize skilled nursing care and rehabilitation,” says Samantha Burnett, Otterbein’s marketing and communications project manager.

Traditional nursing homes, she says, typically have 25 residents and two nursing assistant per floor, she says. At Otterbein’s small neighborhoods there are two nursing assistants for each home, so the patient-to-caregiver ratio is much smaller.

More significantly, Burnett says, “It’s not the physical model of the homes that matters. It’s the mentality we have backing them up. We have what we call person-centered care, which means everything is about that individual resident or patient. They set their own schedule. As much freedom as they can have, we give them.”

It ranges from things like when they get the paper and their coffee in the morning to when their daily therapy sessions are scheduled.

“We don’t run on institutional schedules,” she says. “Their families can come in and cook for them. We’ve had several ‘grandma and granddaughter’ sleepovers and things like that. It’s really their home.”
Otterbein, the largest provider of senior living care in Greater Cincinnati, also recently opened a new apartment building on its Lebanon campus called Terrace Place, featuring 46 upscale one- and two-bedroom apartments with private balconies. The building includes below-ground parking and a second-floor terrace for all residents as well as access to all Otterbein’s campus amenities.

Another new independent living building, The Gallery, offers 45 one-bedroom apartments with open kitchens and porches.

Designed with a continuum of care approach, the apartments are designed to accommodate assisted living so occupants can age in place.

The building also features new amenities requested by residents such as a train room for model train enthusiasts, a loom room and a creative arts center.

Technology also has a big role in new senior communities.

For example, The Sheridan will offer a monitoring system called Skynet. Solomon says resident will wear a Fit bit-like device, which will have several functions. One is as a personal locator.

“Say your mom is not answering phone,” he says. “You call the front desk and they’ll be able to locate her.”

It will also include an accelerometer to notify the staff if the wearer falls.

It will also serve as a call system. “If you need anything you just double-tap the device,” he says.

It also offers the ability to customize programming.

“If someone tends to wander, it would alert the staff if he or she went say through the front door.”

Another high-tech feature is an iPhone app called Sagely that will allow family members to download photos of what their loved ones are doing during the day.

Deerfield Springs, a community under construction on US 22 north of Fields-Ertel Road in Deerfield Township by Resorts Lifestyle Communities, will offer 128 independent living apartments in either studio or one- to three-bedroom layouts.

Unlike other independent living communities, there’s no long-term lease or buy-in. The units are rented month-to-month, says spokeswoman Kelly Jo Hinrichs.

Designed to offer resort-style living for those 55 years and older, the three-story facility will have a dining area, a mall-like Main Street with a bank, home health care provider, gym and theater for movies and events.

Another feature is a sort of Airbnb for seniors. Resorts has 16 facilities in various markets and is adding more each year.

“Because of that growth we’ve included a travel program for our residents where they can travel to each of our communities,” Hinrichs says.

Each community has an extra visitors suite, which residents can reserve.

“Say you live in Deerfield Springs and you want to hit the beach in Naples, Fla., or visit the casinos in Vegas,” she says. “You can reserve the suite in our communities there.”