Elderly care centers in Glen Carbon, Highland break ground on expansions

Two metro-east construction projects broke ground last week in response to growing need for elderly care.

On Thursday, HBD Construction Inc. started work on the expansion of Meridian Village, Glen Carbon's largest senior assisted and independent living community. The new skilled nursing care center at 27 Auerbach Place, off Illinois 157, is a state-of-the-art expansion and the first of its kind in the state. Meridian Village Public Relations Director Luke Smith said the new $6 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion will provide a home for up to 38 senior adults in a setting specially designed to encourage interaction and participation. A core group of flexible caregivers will handle residents' needs.

The new bricks and mortar also bring a new approach in senior living care. Smith said the expansion comes with a shift from traditional, clinical or hospitalized model to a more "person-centered approach." For example, breakfast is not served at set times and residents are free to eat when they want.

"It's in response to the changing needs of the market in terms of what people are looking for in those terms of care," Smith said. "It's a different approach in how we work with residents."

On Friday, Plocher Construction and Highland Development Group started building Legacy Place at 220 Field Crossing in Highland. Spokeswoman Holli Martin said construction is estimated at $6 million and will include 56 one- and two-bedroom apartments, a courtyard, elaborate patio and gazebo. She said the accommodations will include meals, laundry service, medication management and shuttle to doctor's appointments. Residents will choose from seven kinds of suites, each equipped with an emergency system. Construction is expected to be completed by April.

"It's different than other facilities in (Highland)," Martin said. "It's truly an independent center. While they live in a group setting, they have medical management for them, and they are fully independent."

The expansion in senior care is in response to the ongoing growth of the 65-and-older population. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in June, the U.S. senior citizen population could increase by 40 percent in the next five years and triple by the middle of the century. By 2050, the number of the world's 65 and older will increase from the current 516 million to more than 1.5 billion.

Sycamore Village at 225 Castellano Drive in Swansea has undergone expansion of its Alzheimer's unit since its initial renovation five years ago. The 109-unit apartment began with 18 Alzheimer's rooms for residents and has since expanded that wing to include 80 of the 109 rooms. Marketing director Brinda Prather said medical staff is there seven days a week and all caregivers are certified nurses.

"Assisted living is such a wonderful option," Prather said.

The marketing and sales director of another Swansea assisted living center has seen the boom in demand.

"It has been almost overwhelming," said Wanda Parmentier, of Cambridge House of Swansea.

The 103-unit apartment at 3900 Sullivan Drive in March and is one of 115 assisted-living centers that provides a supportive living community, which will house anyone 65 years old or older regardless of their ability to pay.

"I think that's an important point," Parmentier said, citing that 40 percent to 60 percent of seniors cannot afford to pay privately to stay in an assisted living program.