Griffin Living, owner of Varenita of Westlake, discusses how their innovative senior living communities navigate the stay at home order.
“Griffin Living Discusses How the Stay at Home Order is Affecting America’s Senior Housing Crisis.
By: Kevin Leonard
Long before the crisis became the most pressing issue on everyone’s minds, the team at Griffin Living has been studying another crisis: the shortage of suitable housing for American seniors in urban and suburban areas. For the last ten years, we have been researching the evolving needs of American families as their loved ones age and building modern, well-appointed assisted living centers in which seniors can comfortably retire. The pandemic has made the need for these centers more pressing than ever.
Busy households with working parents and teenage children now often include grandparents in the home. Seniors’ declining mental and physical abilities can make daily logistics like laundry, bathing, and cooking much more of a challenge for them and their families. Transporting seniors who cannot drive to doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and salon appointments can become a big burden on families. Griffin Living builds centers where residents have staff to assist with these needs and amenities on site so that families know their loved ones are well taken care of.
Many times, living at home is also not an ideal solution for seniors themselves. Even those who live with their families report loneliness as one of their biggest issues, since they are often left alone for hours a day while the family are busy with their own activities. Loneliness is much more than an unpleasant feeling: it is associated with profound health issues like weakened immunity, depression, cognitive decline, and decreased longevity. The problem is compounded for the 28% of older Americans who live alone. Griffin Living is committed to providing an engaged innovative senior living setting to combat the epidemic of loneliness among seniors.
The issues of burden on families and of loneliness have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Those who shelter in place alone are forced into isolation and are at more acute risk of loneliness-related health issues. Reports of COVID-19 deaths in senior centers are causing panicked families to bring their aging loved ones home just as their college-aged children are coming home to finish the spring semester virtually. Students have been exposed to many people on campus, including potential carriers of the virus, putting seniors who stay in households with students at high risk of getting sick. Furthermore, the need for families to shelter in place presents a challenge to have children, students, parents, and grandparents living and working together in confined space day in and day out.
Griffin Living’s goal is to create a sense of community where seniors feel happy, well cared for, and respected. We accomplish this in several ways at our senior living centers, starting with thoughtful design features like:
Modern architecture with open and airy great rooms and dining rooms, with natural light streaming in through huge glass exterior walls. Gone are the days of dingy, poorly lit units that feel like hospital rooms.
The circulation systems exchange clean air in each apartment beyond N-95 mask standards four times per hour and each bathroom ten times per hour. Airborne pathogens are much less of a risk in our centers than in the average home.
Large interior courtyard areas include outdoor kitchens, fountains, and running streams. Doors and windows can be opened into a quiet, soothing space.
Our restaurant-style model allows for anytime dining with à la carte ordering. Residents may choose from formal interior dining rooms, bistro bars adjacent to great rooms, and outdoor patio dining for each meal. No hospital food foisted on residents; no meal delivery service needed.
The other major component of providing high-quality communal senior living is hiring caregivers who can meet our residents’ physical and emotional needs. We hire through Solvere Living, who help us ensure our centers have the highest cleanliness standards and staff professionalism. They have helped our centers initiate protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — including intensive scrubbing and disinfecting, strict social distancing guidelines, and procuring of sufficient PPE. Our staff continually communicate with our residents’ families and engage residents in their choice of activities and programming throughout the day, (with a modified schedule and extra safety protocols) even during the lockdown.
The senior housing crisis will be with us long after Americans are back to work and vaccines are developed. And Griffin Living will be there to help American families and their aging loved ones be safe and well-cared for.
Paul Griffin III is a fifth-generation real estate developer. Through the past 117 years, various Griffin entities have developed projects with value in excess of 10 billion dollars. These include residential, commercial, office and master-planned communities. Griffin Living is a residential and commercial real estate development company, with numerous and varied community investment partners. The company is striving to be one of the top senior living developers, providing senior living developments when America needs it most.”