Utah is famously the youngest state in America, mostly because of our high birth rate. Nevertheless, like the rest of the country, the Beehive’s senior population is also expanding as the Baby Boomer generation reaches the age of retirement. In 2015, Utah seniors made up more than 10 percent of the population. The state has been preparing for this since 2005, when the Utah legislature created the Commission on Aging to address how government and the private sector can prepare for this wave of elderly residents.
But they soon learned this is not your granddaddy’s retirement. Today, 65 signals the beginning of a new life, not the beginning of the end. Life expectancy in Utah is 79 and those remaining 14 years are not spent in a rocking chair. While caring for America’s elderly is still a major challenge for the nation, today’s seniors lead active, involved lives.
That new high-rise in Sugarhouse? It’s a community for seniors, providing independent living, assisted living and memory care, right in the heart of one of Salt Lake City’s most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods. This is the kind of setting today’s seniors are looking for in the community, not a backwater.
How to Find the Right Facility For Your Loved One
Robert Ence, executive director of the Utah Commission on Aging, says many resources are available to get started on finding assisted care for a loved one, but that’s just the start.
“Some things you can’t find out in a brochure, you have to do a site visit,” Ence says. “Go when there’s an activity. Eat the food. Try to step into the situation to see what it would be like to live there.” Ence also recommends discussing an “exit plan” with facility managers, so that a smooth, stress-free transition can happen in case the resident needs to move to another facility, especially from assisted or independent living to a skilled nursing home.
When it comes time to have that conversation, he recommends including a credible third party, like the doctor of the loved one, who can explain the medical necessity.