Peninsula plans housing for its aging population

In response to a massive projected increase in the number of seniors in the county, a new. 97-bed assisted-living home for the elderly is being planned across from the new Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame.

The Peninsula Health Care District, owner of the 1-acre plot at 1600 Trousdale Ave. where the home would be built, approved the plan last week and identified Aegis Living as the developer and operator of the proposed facility, district CEO Cheryl Fama said.

The proposed facility is a response to a growing need for more elderly health services.

By 2030, adults over the age of 65 will make up 20 percent of the county’s population — well above the national average of 16 percent, said Srija Srinivasan, director of strategic operations for San Mateo County Health System.

A few years back, health officials began warning cities and county agencies to prepare for what is being called the “silver tsunami” — a wave of aging baby boomers that will add 157,000 people to the county’s 65-and-older crowd by 2030. The number of residents age 85 and up will increase by 148 percent to 30,000.

Among the aging, assisted-living homes such as the one proposed by the district are an increasingly popular care option. They meet the desire of elderly people to remain independent for as long as possible, Fama said, but cost about half as much as nursing care.

“Assisted-living housing keeps the elderly out of institutions and allows them to pay for the level of care they need, whether it’s bathing or dressing or setting up their medications or with ambulating to the dining area,” she said.

Market feasibility studies done by the health district found that among the nine licensed assisted-living care facilities in the county, occupancy averages 90 percent.

Navin Walia, director of the Marymount Greenhills Retirement Center in Millbrae, said he expects a lot more assisted-living facilities to spring up in the area as demand increases.

“When I first started seven years ago, a lot of people hadn’t even heard of assisted living,” Walia said.

“The demographic shifts that we can expect are staggering,” Srinivasan said. It’s clear we need a wider range of choices for older adults to support their ability to remain independent and healthy in the community.”

The facility proposed by the Peninsula Health Care District would include suites of equal quality offered at market rates and available to couples. At least eight beds will be available at discount rates for low-income residents, she said.

Over the next few weeks, the district and Aegis Living will hash out the details of the partnership — including cost — after which will begin a lengthy approval process involving community members and city officials. It will be at least 18 months before construction can begin on the property, which is currently occupied by district offices, Fama estimated.

The details of the new facility and the agreement with Aegis should be ready for the district’s June 23 or June 28 public board meeting, Fama said.

Burlingame site eyed for facility

The site of the recently vacated Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame could soon become home to a new, health-related facility such as a health education, senior housing or medical office building, said Cheryl Fama, CEO of the Peninsula Health Care District.

“There’s an opportunity for health education programs that could be used by a broad range of community agencies to provide classes,” Fama said. “It could be used for some kind of senior-focused gym or  physical rehab facility.”

A big chunk of the land on which the old hospital currently sits, which the district owns, will end up as a parking lot for the new hospital. But a corner of the old hospital lot and an empty space next to the building — totaling four acres — will not be part of the lot. The district owns 26 acres of land in Burlingame, 21 of which it rents to Mills-Peninsula, and five of which it intends to use for its own purposes.

Fama said the whole 26 acres should be a health-related campus, and any new facilities should fit in with the hospital’s work.

The district has yet to submit a proposal to the city, said Burlingame Planning Manager Maureen Brooks. The area is currently zoned for office or medical uses.

“I’d really like to have people come together to have a thoughtful conversation about the best use for the property,” said Mayor Terry Nagel. “It’s a huge opportunity to do something that would really have value for our city.”

If the site is used for senior housing, Nagel is concerned that it might not be within walking distance to amenities seniors need and said some kind of shuttle service would need to be provided.

Fama said the district intends to have a master vision for the area outlined by the end of the year.

— Niko Kyriakou

Getting older and older

Projected San Mateo County population changes from 2010 to 2030:

53 Percent more adults between ages 65-74

71 Percent more adults between ages 75-84

148 Percent more adults over the age of 85

20 Percent of residents over 65 who will have a physical or mental disability

<b>50 Percent increase in demand for physicians

59 Percent increase in demand for hospital beds

70 Percent increase in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease

Source: San Mateo County

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