Photos of Life Plan Communities in Baltimore

In my November 9, 2023 webcast for the Maryland Association for Parkinson’s Support (MAPS) I discuss Life Plan Communities (LPCs) as a housing option for Parkinson’s patients. LPCs were preciously called continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). The industry changed the terminology used to describe these communities to emphasize the lifestyle they offer, rather than their ability to provide different levels of care over time as residents age.

There are 17 LPCs in the Baltimore metro area, with two additional communities under development or seeking pre-sales. We focused on Broadmead, Charlestown, Edenwald, Roland Park Place and Vantage Point in Columbia to understand pricing, contract options, etc. and to determine if the community offers PD care on site or in close proximity to the community. The photos below provide additional a feel for our focus communities.

LPCs offer a full range of senior housing options on a single campus. These communities are typically 300 to 500 units in size, offer very attractive common areas, programs and a wide variety of activities and programs. Two Baltimore area LPCs, developed by Erickson, have 1,850 units and I call them mega LPCs. LPCs typically charge an entrance fee and a month service fee. We believe these communities are well-designed to accommodate a PD patient and a healthy spouse because of the broad range of activities they offer, and a number of Baltimore LPCs now provide PD support groups and exercise programs on campus.

LINK TO WEBINAR ON UNDERSTANDING SENIOR HOUSING & CARE OPTIONS – SELECTING A LIFE-PLAN COMMUNITY IN BALTIMORE

On January 9, 17 and 23, 2023, Beth Am synagogue sponsored a 3-session webinar on senior housing and care options and selecting a Life-Plan Community in Baltimore. I led the webinar and was assisted in its preparation and presentation by Becky Bees, Marketing Director of Roland Park Place (RPP), the only Life-Plan Community in the City of Baltimore.

RPP is located within walking distance of the Arts and Science (Homewood) campus of Johns Hopkins University, and about 2.5 miles from Beth Am synagogue. RPP has 10 -12 Beth Am members among its residents, and additional Jewish residents to are not members of our synagogue, but most of its residents are not Jewish. Because of its location near the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins, RPP attracts a lot of retired professors and physicians. Its residents are known as being intellectually curious with interests across a broad range of topics.

While Becky Bees and I both have ties to RPP, and used pricing and other details from RPP to explain Life-Plan Community pricing and entrance fee options. the webinar provides information to help seniors and their families make an informed choice about the type of senior housing and care that best meets their needs and information on all Life-Plan communities in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The 3rd session features Beth Am members living in four different Life-Plan Communities explaining their own selection process, their satisfaction with their chosen community and their advice to those considering such a move.

https://bethambaltimore.org/selecting-a-life-plan-community-in-baltimore-webinar-series/

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. If you are considering senior housing and care options for yourself or a member of your family, you may also find other posts on this blog of interest. A Life-Plan Community, previously referred to as Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), charges a significant entrance fee, offers a broad range of care for its residents (independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing) and offers assurance that a senior, or a senior and her or his spouse, will get any type care the need as they age at a predictable cost.

Whether you are interested in a Life-Plan Community, another type of senior housing community, or care at home, we encourage you and your family to consider your options sooner than you believe is necessary, so you are not force by an unexpected health condition to make a decision about your care in a couple of days with very little time to assess your options.

Becky Bees and I appreciate the support we received from the clergy and staff at Beth Am to offer this webinar and make it available via the synagogues web site.

Convert Colleges to Senior Hsg. Enrollment Declines Create New Opportunities

I have written three times before on this blog about augmenting college finances and declining enrollment by introducing senior housing on campus or by fully converting small college campuses into senior housing communities. The first time was February 2, 2019, in response to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about the challenges facing small, private colleges. The author said many of these institutions will need to close or radically change their operations to survive.

I republished my second blog post, with some updated commentary, in September 2019 after Welltower (WELL), the largest publicly traded Healthcare REIT, announced it acquired for$34 million Newbury College’s 7.8-acre campus in the Boston suburb of Brookline to convert the campus into a seniors housing community. Newbury had an enrollment of 600 mostly disadvantaged students, to which it was providing substantial financial aid, and was reportedly operated at a loss for several years before closing. The campus included 142,000 sq. ft of built space. The sales price was sufficient to repay all of the college’s debt, provide severance for staff and provide funds to assist some disadvantaged students obtain a college education elsewhere according to press reports.

Newbury College Campus, Brookline, MA

On April 30, 2020, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Coronavirus Pushes Colleges to the Breaking Point, Forcing ‘Hard Choices’ about Education.” The Journal article leads with the announced closing of MacMurray College in central Illinois after 174 years. The article goes on to indicate 50% of college enrollment managers are very worried about meeting fall targets for enrollment and tuition, which prompted my third blog post.

Before the pandemic, Robert Zemsky, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania graduate school of education in his book The College Stress Test indicated that 100 of the nation’s 1,000 private, liberal arts colleges were likely to close over the next five years. He now says 200 of these colleges could close in the next year, according to the Journal. Cancellation of on-campus classes during the pandemic, growing impediments to overseas students wishing to study in the U.S., and the increased appeal of lower cost, closer to home college alternatives all contribute to the growing financial distress of small, private American colleges.

Another news item last week prompted me to again revise, update and publish a new blog post on converting small colleges to senior housing conversion. On September 12, 2022, The Trustees of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland announced this Catholic women’s college, founded in 1895 with an undergraduate enrollment of about 660, would go Coed. The college already has about 1,750 coed graduate students, most part-time evening or weekends. I am friends with a number of Notre Dame of Maryland graduates, some dating back to my undergraduate days at Johns Hopkins. I live less than a mile from campus and my wife was an adjunct professor of management at the College in the 1980s. It has many great attributes. But it is hard for me to see how going coed will meaningfully improve its competitive or financial position.

The Notre Dame of Maryland is located on a hilly, wooded 60-acre campus in a very attractive wealthy residential part of Baltimore. The campus adjoins and connects with the campus of the coed Loyola College of Maryland, with which it shares a library. Loyola University Maryland is a Jesuit, Catholic University with nearly 4,000 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Land constrained Loyola has long been interested in acquiring the smaller woman’s college to accommodate future growth, something which Notre Dame has long resisted.

College of Notre Dame of Maryland

The seniors housing and care industry has faced its own admissions and operating challenges during the pandemic, including lower occupancy, some overbuilding, restricted admissions to due Coronavirus self-isolation and high levels of COVID infections and deaths at some skilled nursing facilities. But the number of seniors 75+, when many begin seriously considering seniors housing and care options, is expected to grow about 40% between 2020 and 2030, while no growth is expected during that time in the undergraduate U.S. college population, age 18 -24. The lack of growth in the undergraduate age population in U.S., increasing administrative burdens and geopolitical tension, and the high costs of a four-year college education are continuing to reduce college enrollment, particularly for small, private colleges.

Strong population growth in the 75+ senior population, together with the fact that many seniors are looking for more dynamic living environments that include life-long learning, make us optimistic about redeveloping exiting college campuses in whole or in part to seniors housing. At a college like Notre Dame of Maryland, the College could joint venture with a for profit or nonprofit senior housing developer to add a senior housing community on campus, generate some immediate cash, leverage its existing dining and maintenance staff, providing on-campus work-study experience for students in nursing and allied health programs and providing opportunities for the College of Notre Dame of Maryland to expand it’s curriculum to include seniors housing management.

Notre Dame of Maryland should also consider selling its entire campus and fully converting it to a senior housing community because it is one of the few uses (other than an educational institution) that its neighbors and City officials are likely to support on the site. Conventional, higher density housing or commercial development is likely to be opposed by owners of large single- family homes nearby because of increased traffic and congestion. A seniors housing community will generate little if any additional traffic and should generate a substantial number of jobs for city residents. It might be able to accommodate retired nuns at a preferential rate, as well as provide an endowment that could continue the mission of educating woman. If I were the university’s real estate advisor, I would see seniors housing as one of the few real competitors to Loyola to purchase the site.

Earlier in my career, before I began to focus on seniors housing and care and health care real estate as a stock analyst and investment banker, I spent more than five years as a real estate market and feasibility consultant doing a lot of work for colleges and universities including: University of Maryland at its flagship College Park campus, its Baltimore professional schools and UMBC in Baltimore County. Other clients included Johns Hopkins Health System, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Arizona State University.

Please contact me at jdoc@robustretirement.com with comments and questions.

Are Baby Boomers Now Ready for Seniors Housing?

I am 72. I graduated college 50 years ago and am a quintessential baby boomer. I studied seniors housing and care as a real estate market and stock analyst for more than 20 years. I spent several years raising capital and advising companies in the seniors housing and care space and served on the board of Quality Care Properties, a health care REIT.

The holy grail of seniors housing and care throughout the last 20 to 25 years has been the arrival of baby boomers as senior housing residents. Despite a series of ups and downs driven by overbuilding, varying economic conditions, and a pandemic, the arrival of the baby boomers at the front door of seniors housing properties nationwide continues to be seen as spurring huge investment upside for the seniors housing and care industry.

The problem with this thinking is boomers have not moved in mass to seniors housing in their 60s or so far in their 70s. There is a rethink going on among some in seniors housing considering if boomers may abandon traditional seniors housing offerings altogether and, instead, seek out active adult communities, both large ones like the Villages and Del Webb and smaller scale active adult options. In these scenarios, boomers use home health care to avoid traditional independent, assisted living, memory care and CCRC properties altogether.

A funny thing happened this past week. Two baby boomer couples we have known for many years, who are our age or just a few years older, independently started touring CCRC communities around Baltimore, where I live. These same boomers, until very recently, could not picture themselves ever living in a CCRC. It is too soon to call this a trend, much less a wave of baby boomer demand, but it appears to me that after three years of pandemic, on and off masking, and much reduced social interaction more boomers are ready to consider communities that offer a wide range of education, entertainment and social activities, even if these properties are full of “old people”. Another couple we know is selling their condo near the water in a hip Baltimore neighborhood to rent in a 55 plus community in the suburbs with pickleball courts, educational and social programs.

I am curious if other senior housing industry professionals and other baby boomers are seeing evidence that boomer attitudes toward at least CCRCs are beginning to change and the holy grail of increased boomer demand for seniors housing may yet remake the industry. Please respond with your comments on this post.

Benefits of Retirement Center Living

I thought a letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal on November 11, 2021 from Jane Shaw Stroup contained a number of good insights on retirement center living from someone whose husband had recently died after the couple spent five years in a community. Jane Shaw Stroup is a retired nonprofit executive and her husband, Richard L. Stroup, was an economist. The couple moved into a retirement community in Raleigh, N.C. in 2017.

Key points in Mrs. Stroup’s letter include:

Experience was mixed but generally a good one.

Your friends are close by, with was important during the depths of COVID pandemic. A small group of us met once week for wine and snacks during the pandemic.

A retirement center has some resemblance to a college dorm, but that a good thing. You are able to meet people at meals, exercise classes, lectures and clubs.

Having gym and a restaurant downstairs makes life easier.

Retirement centers are full of people who have experienced long, interesting lives – lots of opportunities for good conversation.

Emptying the contents of one’s home and selling it are poignant experience but leaving the process to one’s children may not be the right approach.

A retirement community can only succeed if it has caring staff who tolerate the foibles of older people. We were never reprimanded or chided by the staff even though we did some stupid things, like forgetting to push the button each morning to let staff know you are okay.

A retirement center is a place where you don’t have to be smarter or younger than you are. And a place where many friends can ease the loss of a spouse.

Adjusting To Retirement

I will turn 70 next month. I have been semi-retired for five years and fully retired from my last full-time employer for three years. I find a number of my close friends, who elected to keep working after age 65, are now shifting to full or partial retirement at age 70 and I thought I would share with readers of this blog some of the advice I have been informally providing to friends.

For high achieving Baby Boomers with well established careers, it is scary to think of giving up a career in which you are still investing more than 40 hours per week, which provides status and professional recognition, and which is the nexus for many of your social relationships. A number of my friends are very concerned about how they will fill their time post-retirement.

I was fortunate in being able to cut back with my full-time employer, from working 50+ hours per week as a stock analyst covering seniors housing and care stocks and healthcare REITs to working 20 hours per week in investment banking focusing on business development and providing input on industry trends and corporate strategy for M&A transactions and capital raises. This step-down in time, together with a shift in my responsibilities, kept me productively engaged while allowing me to ease into retirement. I believe employers today are more open to these types of arrangements but, based on feedback from friends, this seems to work less well for law firms and other employers that bill by the hour.

When I ceased working as an investment banker part-time for my long-time employer – Stifel Nicolaus, it was my choice to end the relationship. I was spurred to retire by my older brother’s death, which increased my desire to enjoy more of life while I was still healthy. However, I still wanted to remain professionally engaged post-retirement, so I set up Robust Retirement, LLC as a vehicle though which I could provide consulting services with a liability shield and set up this blog to allow me a platform from which to comment on industry issues. Setting up and maintaining an LLC and a web blog is not very difficult. In the years since I fully retired, I have done a number of consulting assignments through my LLC and served on the Board of Directors at the publicly traded healthcare REIT – Quality Care Properties.

My advice to pending retirees or those contemplating retirement.

  • Don’t do too much pre-planning of your time in retirement or make a lot of commitments.
  • Take some time to clear your head and reflect on what’s really important to you.
  • Observe and talk with friends and neighbors about how they transitioned to retirement and what they like and dislike.
  • Dabble – take some courses, try some organizations and see what you like before you commit.
  • Avoid getting over committed to too many volunteer organizations or projects. It’s okay to say no – my own rule is no more than one board or major volunteer assignment at a time.
  • Free, unstructured time is okay.
  • Commit to an exercise regime. Vigorous exercise is one of the few things that can extend your good health. My current program includes boxing/intensive cardio twice a week, yoga and tai chi each once a week, weight training once or twice a week and golf once or twice a week now that the weather is turning warm.
  • Consider a move to a condo before or shortly after you retire unless you really enjoy yard work. My wife and I moved to a high rise condo with a doorman and valet parking. One story living with someone to help with deliveries will allow us to stay in our current home for many more years and, if you are looking for more than two bedrooms in a well-located condo, these can be relatively hard to find.
  • Stay connected with professional colleagues – I belong to one professional association with a local chapter that keeps me connected and make a point of connecting to former colleagues for lunch or drinks from time to time.

Notice some things not included in the above list – buying a second home, relocating to a warming climate or lower tax state. These reflect my personal preferences. I don’t want the added work of maintaining two homes and prefer to remain in a location where we are closer to family and long-time friends.

We do travel a lot but that is not for everyone. This past winter, we traveled a week a month to someplace warm (Hilton Head, SC and the Caribbean) and over the last several years have traveled to Scandinavia, Israel, Northern Italy, Costa Rica, the Galapagos and more. A planned Spring trip to Japan was just cancelled by our tour operator but eventually the virus will pass and we will be on the road again.

Immigration and Senior Caregiving Linked

It has been several months since I updated my blog because I have gotten busy serving on the Board of Quality Care Properties (QCP) and with some consulting work.   I am also just back from a vacation in Costa Rica about which I hope to soon  do a post.

An article in today’s (January 23, 2018) Wall Street Journal prompted me to do this post.  The WSJ article is entitled  “How Immigration Could Affect Grandma’s Care”  and is in the “Capital Journal” commentary by Gerald F. Seib.  Key points include:

  • American is getting older.  A fifth of the population will be over 65 by 2050 and 4% will be over 85, both records in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population.
  • A study by PHI, an organization that works with the long term care and home care industry, estimates there are 860,000 immigrants holding “direct care” giving jobs in senior care and perhaps as many as one million when workers providing care independently for families are included.
  • The largest share of these workers come from Mexico, the Philippines, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic; the very countries in the crosshairs of the immigration debate.
  • Restrictions on immigration may drive up wages for what are often low paying jobs providing direct care to seniors and this may draw more people into the industry.
  • But forcing dedicated, qualified people from other countries to leave, many of who have lived in the U.S. for years, will be a blow to many including seniors who rely on these immigrants for care.

As you consider you position on immigration policy, you should also consider who will care for your parents and eventually yourself and your peers as you age.

Wall Street Journal Recommends Financial Advisor For Retirees

I continue to find the Wall Street Journal one of the best sources of financial advice for seniors.  In the “Ask Encore” column on Monday, October 31, 1017, Glenn Ruffenach recommends that retirees retain a financial advisor, despite fees that can run to 1% of assets.  While some retirees have the skills and time to manage their finances late in life, Mr. Ruffenach recommends an advisor to:

  • Keep you from doing something stupid, like investing in a business opportunity offered by a relative or selling aggressively in a market pullback.
  • Establish and maintain a good allocation among asset classes.
  • Efficiently manage your tax liabilities including required distributions from retirement accounts.
  • Assist the surviving spouse, who may be less familiar with financial matters, with the support needed to maintain the nest egg you have built together.

If fees are a sticking point for you, Mr. Ruffenach notes major funds families, such as Vanguard Group (and I would add T. Rowe Price and Fidelity) and some financial service companies like Charles Schwab, Betterment and Wealthfront are now competing to be your advisor with fees considerably lower than 1%.    I still see an experienced financial advisor offering more personalized advice than that available from the less seasoned staffers or automated advisory services available at some of the firms noted above.   But, the key advice for retirees is that there is value in having an outside advisor and you should shop for one that offers a combination of services and fees with which you are comfortable.

Working Part-Time Post-Retirement Age May Be Good For Your Health

On the page “What Is Retirement” (see link above on the banner of this blog) I propose a new definition for retirement as “The period of one’s life when one shifts from working primarily for the means of earning income to working primarily for the satisfaction of producing a purpose or result while devoting additional time to recreation, education and leisure activities.” to replace the current Oxford English Dictionary definition of ”The period of one’s life after leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.”

Today’s New York Times has an article entitled “Working Longer May Benefit Your Health https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/business/retirement/working-longer-may-benefit-your-health.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

While ultimately concluding that the scientific evidence is inconclusive about whether working longer benefits your health, The New York Times article says the answer tends toward yes and asserts this is true not just for more highly educated, healthier adults in more fulfilling jobs but for many types of jobs that keep the mind active and provide networks for social interactions.

The headline of The New York Times article seems to imply a choice between working full-time and full-time retirement but most of those cited in the article as working past retirement age have shifted from full-time to some type of part-time employment or consulting.    My experience, and that of many well-educated friends, shows them most satisfied in a partial retirement lifestyle where part-time work, consulting or a challenging volunteer position offers the mental stimulation and social networking opportunities that The New York Times article asserts benefit seniors’ health.    I believe seniors, their employers and society in general all benefit from meaningful part-time, consulting and volunteer experiences and that we will see more and more baby-boomer seniors in these partially-retired positions going forward.