Outside patio area of the new Vineyards at California Armenian Home in Fresno, the largest privately funded project of its type in the Central Valley. Photo by Frank Lopez.
California is projected to be one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., with Fresno County recently passing the 1 million population mark.
The Golden State’s elderly population is expected to grow twice as fast as the total population, with the growth varying from region to region. According to the California State Plan on Aging 2017-2021, the number of adults over the age of 65 in the Central Valley is expected to increase by 117 percent by 2030.
The state plan notes that less than half of older Californians have a retirement income (e.g. pension, 401K or IRA) in addition to Social Security benefits, and 28 percent are estimated to have incomes below the amount an older adult would require to meet basic needs, and that 26 percent of seniors spend 30 percent of their income on housing expenses.
Whether one is looking at senior living options for themselves or their parents, the Central Valley offers a variety of housing options that can help make the twilight years of the elderly more comfortable and enjoyable.
George Kutnerian is the CEO of Fresno Guest Homes, which has 10 six-bed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE), with different homes catering to the different needs of a residents. Currently, 80 percent of RCEFs are six-bed facilities.
All of the homes are in the same neighborhood, and it brings the advantage of aging in place. As residents get older and their needs change, they can move to another home in the neighborhood that could better meet their needs, such as memory care. An 11th home will be opening in a few months.
The average age of Fresno Guest Homes residents is 89, and since the 6-bed facilities are typical residential houses, residents get to enjoy a smaller setting that makes it easier for them to get around, especially those suffering from memory issues.
Prices can range from $1,000 per month to more than $4,000. Fresno Guest Homes participates in a MediCal program that helps pay for the cost of care as an alternative to nursing home care.
Kutnerian is part of trade association called 6Beds, Inc, which represents more than 2000 6-bed facilities. He says that there is a lot of money going into senior living facilities.
“There is a lot of investment going into the sector,” Kutnerian said. “The data shows that the number of facilities is going up in the Valley. There’s definitely growth in the market here.”
While there might be a lot of facility options for senior living, Kutnerian said that the biggest issue in the coming 20 years might be the affordability, and that it is an issue that should be contemplated by the state Legislature.
Just a few streets down from Old Town Clovis on Sierra Avenue right near Highway 168 is Magnolia Crossing, a homelike assisted living community that aims to give its residents an open, social environment that keeps them connected.
Magnolia Crossing opened up right at the end of 2017, and it consists of three Craftsman style homes, each with 16 private bedrooms with their own bathrooms, three covered patios and a common area.
Michael and Marisa Sigala founded Magnolia Crossing after searching for assisted living homes for their own parents, but did not like any of the homes available, and then set out to create a more homelike, close knit retirement community.
Lisa Kooiman, sales director for Magnolia Crossing, said that they focus more on their individual residents to ensure a comfortable setting.
“We take a person centered approach to caring for an individual and not necessarily doing things for them but alongside them and encouraging their independence and activity,” Kooiman said.
Each house can be seen as its own small community, and residents are free to visit each house to socialize with other residents.
Prices for Magnolia Crossing range from $1000 to $4,300 per month, depending on income and availability.
Nestled in the quiet countryside on Temperance Avenue, just past Kings Canyon Avenue, the California Armenian Home has recently finished a large-scale expansion project, currently the largest privately funded project of its kind in the Central Valley, called the Vineyards.
The $42 million project was approved in 2015, and construction was completed in January of 2018, and brought 174,000 square feet of expansion.
The Santa Barbara-style building, resembling more of a luxury resort than senior living facilities, offers 60 independent living apartments, 50 assisted living units and 36 memory care units.
Prices for apartments in studio, one-and two-bedrooms have a price range from $2,100 a month for independent living to $4,070 for assisted living and $4,340 for memory care.
There are also 12 two-bedroom independent living villas or cottages with one-and two-car garages, and back patios with strips of artificial grass. Seniors who wish to bring their animal companions will be glad to know that pets are allowed in the apartments and the villas.
The Vineyards also has its own cafe, hair salon and a small movie theater for the residents to enjoy together.
Ren Marie Ramshaw, director of sales for the Vineyards, said the Vineyards provides everything needed to make sure the residents always come first.
“What really makes the Vineyards of the California Armenian Home unique is that we have the full continuum of care,” Ramshaw said. “Great food, dining experiences, and luxury seal through the next chapter of assisted living—having that ebb and flow between the different levels of care is unique to the Vineyard.”