Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Kathryn Roberts: Let’s not drown in the silver tsunami

Posted in the Star TribuneNew public policies and products can help Minnesota to ride the age wave. Kathryn Roberts Lotions hide aging. Phrases such as senior moment' disparage it. And many policymakers put it off. That won’t work much longer. In 2020, Minnesota will have 1 million people over age 65 vs. 69,000 in 1950. Those 85-plus will be the fastest-growing group. Who will pay for their care? Absent change, it will largely be Medicaid at a cost of $20 billion to Minnesota by 2050. And that’s only part of it. Alzheimer’s disease costs businesses more than $36 billion nationally in caregivers' lost productivity. Every 1 percent decrease in family caregiving drains another $30 million from the state. Half of Minnesotans find possibilities of paying for long-term care a major problem, according to a recent Citizens League poll. Yet more than 60 percent say we should collectively take greater responsibility in public problem-solving. Doing exactly that, we can ride the age wave rather than drowning beneath it. Statistics are overwhelming, but focus comes easier when considering this: As humans we’re hard-wired to live where we want, in communities we call home, among people we love. Yet public policy does the opposite, guaranteeing care that we can’t adequately fund in segregated institutions where many people don’t want to live. A better way sought by a bipartisan group of legislators called the 2020 Conference is to adopt a Vermont initiative that allows Medicaid-eligible people to pay a family member or friend for care in one’s own home rather than in an institution. Also proposed are tax credits to aid technology purchases, such as unobtrusive home sensors that send activity updates to a caregiver’s cell phone, identifying small problems before they grow. This keeps Medicaid for those truly in need. The rest of us must realize that financial planning can’t end with the kid’s tuition or final mortgage payment. We must share solutions to live where we want, how we want. Today the most feasible ways of doing that are personal savings or insurance. In relatively short time, thousands of Minnesotans joined the state’s 529 college savings program. Public education efforts targeted and educated them. Lessons are there for long-term care. State policymakers and the insurance industry, for example, could help make long-term care insurance more accessible, understandable and easier to purchase. First, let’s abandon the name 'long-term care.' If a person needs such care -- and many people don’t -- they typically need it only for a year or two. Plus it screams decline. Aging is about living, even at death. Second, we need products that easily fit in lifetime financial planning. Potential approaches include adding care coverage as a rider to basic health or disability coverage, permitting Minnesotans to join the current state employees care insurance plan, or creating hybrid combo products, such as a life coverage product where unused life insurance pays for care. Finally, we need an aggressive marketing campaign similar to that on college savings and a Minnesota website where people can bypass complexities and easily compare and purchase state-endorsed insurance plans. In Minnesota, every youngster should be ready for kindergarten, be able to afford college and then live proudly where they want as an older adult. From beginning to end, we’re in this together.Kathryn Roberts is CEO of Ecumen, which is Minnesota’s largest nonprofit senior housing company.


Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Ecumen Joins Commercial Equity Partners to Propose Lifestyle Community for Seniors Adjacent to Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury

SHOREVIEW, MINN., (January 23, 2007) €“ Ecumen, Minnesota’s largest non-profit senior housing company, has joined with Commercial Equity Partners, developer of Woodbury’s Tamarack Hills Business Lifestyle CampusTM, to propose a new lifestyle community for seniors who want to live in Woodbury.The proposed development, called Crestwood Creek, would focus on meeting people’s desires for lifestyle housing that provides convenience, a strong sense of community, a variety of services, wellness opportunities that energize mind, body and spirit, and easy access to leading medical care. Crestwood Creek would be built adjacent to Woodwinds Health Campus. To advance a proposal, the City of Woodbury must allow a lifestyle community for seniors on the 23-acre parcel, rather than a medical office building. The land is currently under a moratorium, which members of the City Council will examine in a February 27th City Council workshop meeting.“Our customers are telling us that they want housing that allows them to live life on their terms in communities that they love,” said Steve Ordahl, Ecumen’s senior vice president of business development. “They desire places to live that allow them to live independently and fully as possible, but that also provide easy access to medical care when needed. These are very different from retirement communities that have been built in the past in Minnesota. We envision a development that will fit very well with Woodbury’s strategy of building a high-quality, well-planned, livable community for all ages. ”As currently planned, the Crestwood Creek development would include independent living, assisted living, a wellness center with fitness center, spa and aquatic therapy, transitional care and memory care. Amenities would include concierge services, an on-site post office, bank, general store and regular transportation to Woodwinds and other areas of the community. The site also would feature a primary care clinic/medical office building with an emphasis in geriatric medicine.“We chose Ecumen because of a shared commitment to create a quality of life for seniors and provide quality jobs in Woodbury,” said Bill Knutson, vice president, healthcare/senior living properties for Commercial Equity Partners. “Ecumen is a leader in this new approach to €˜aging in place’. We believe that Healtheast’s Woodwinds Health Campus has €˜set the stage’ for 21st century hospital care and, after hearing Woodwinds’ goals for future development of its campus, we are proud to partner with Ecumen to align Crestwood Creek with that vision for the benefit of Woodbury residents.”Ecumen (www.ecumen.org) is based in Shoreview. It provides a variety of housing choices and services for people 50+. The name Ecumen comes from the Greek word for “home”, which is “Oikos.” Ecumen works to create “home” for older adults wherever they choose to live. Ecumen, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has 4,000 team members who provide housing options and services in approximately 100 communities in the Upper Midwest. It was named in 2005 and 2006 as one of the “Great Places to Work” in Minnesota by The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.Commercial Equity Partners a growing forward-thinking commercial real estate developer based in the Twin Cities offering properties, services and consulting. Commercial Equity Partners specializes in wellness based retirement communities and Business Lifestyle Campuses. For more information on Commercial Equity Partners, visit www.cepcompanies.com .


Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

New to Market - Exercise Program for the Mind

Posted in the StarTribuneShoreview-based Ecumen, an operator of independent and assisted living housing, care centers and home health care, has initiated a six-month pilot project at its Lakeview Commons facility in Maplewood to test a new cognitive fitness program.' Ecumen is using the mPower Cognitive Fitness system from Dakim Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., to help customers reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.Dakim believes that regularly exercising the mind is the key to memory and mental function. Using a touch-screen interface, mPower has thousands of exercises featuring colorful images and generational-specific references including movie clips from the '30s and '40s. The program feels like a game but the questions have been designed to address cognitive processes from memory to computation to critical thinking and life skills.Ecumen is one of 11 senior housing companies nationally (the only one in Minnesota) testing the program. Ecumen has enrolled about 30 residents in the new cognitive program and will evaluate the program over the next six months before rolling it out to its more than 100 communities.PATRICK KENNEDY