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Seniors graduate … to new places to live


Walk into Santa Marta in Olathe and you’ll find the amenities expected at any luxury hotel: a large salt-water indoor pool, grand dining room, sprawling outdoor patio, wood-paneled pub and exercise center.

Only Santa Marta isn’t a hotel. It’s a continuing care retirement community aimed at residents age 62 or older who want all the amenities associated with luxury living along with the peace of mind that comes from knowing their long-term needs will be met.

“It was my initiative to really have the ambiance, the environment, the service to resemble more of a resort atmosphere,” says Chet Surmaczewicz, executive director with Santa Marta.

To accomplish this, Surmaczewicz turned to his own background in hotels and resorts to create an environment he describes as residential and elegant, without being stuffy.

The facility is known as a continuing care retirement community because it offers four full levels of care: independent living, assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing. Residents are able to move through the levels of care based on their individual need.

Santa Marta is far from the only option for residents across the metro area. Whether it’s in Overland Park, Liberty, Prairie Village or Kansas City’s Northland, the senior housing market is booming, and older adults have more choices than ever before when it comes to housing.

The market is seeing a rise in high-end apartments aimed at people age 55 or older who want to relinquish some of the responsibilities of home ownership but don’t need any additional healthcare services.

A new senior housing cooperative opened this month in Shawnee, with additional sites planned for Lee’s Summit, Lenexa, Lawrence, Overland Park, Kansas City and Northland communities. Facilities or small group homes specializing in dementia-related care are also growing in numbers, along with continued development of assisted living and independent living facilities.

The nursing facilities of 20 years ago are being replaced and updated to meet the needs of a new generation of seniors who demand a higher level of services and products.

The development is being driven, in part, by the aging baby boomers, who begin turning 70 this year.

It’s estimated by the Pew Research Center that approximately 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States each day and that will continue until 2030.

“That is truly a tsunami as the boomers move through, and they want choice and opportunity and they are going to be very demanding,” said Jim Glynn, a principal at GlynnDevins, a senior living marketing firm based in Overland Park. “Savvy marketers are going to provide us with what we want. They are not going to tell us what we get.”

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