As the baby boom generation turns 65, there will be a greater demand in Crow Wing County for senior services, from more yoga and Internet classes to additional assisted living facilities.
Mike Koecheler, director of RSVP Volunteer Services, said the growing senior population will need a high number of volunteers to assist with everything from running senior activities to helping seniors with chores that may let them remain in their homes longer, instead of moving into nursing homes.
And it will be left up to baby boomers to perform much of these needed services for themselves because they will constitute the largest segment of the population as senior citizens, he said.
"I don't think people understand where we're going to be in 2030," said Koecheler. "It's amazing. Eight out of 10 people will be over 65. It's really amazing. If we don't have people to volunteer, we're in trouble."
Mona Aho, director of the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, said senior citizens are more active than they used to be and as a result are asking for more activities. Yoga was an activity added this year at the center. Other upcoming classes include rosemaling and oil painting.
The center also is looking at adding square dancing and jewelry making, she said.
St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd is planning a $21.2 million expansion project to meet growth needs. In 1973 the hospital had 20 physicians. Today it has 100 full-time physicians and plans to add more staff. (Dispatch Photo by Nels Norquist)
Instead of building large nursing homes, the trend in senior living facilities is to create smaller assisted living apartments and homes.
Bethany Good Samaritan Village and Woodland Good Samaritan Village are working together to develop 45 acres behind Woodland on Greenwood Street in south Brainerd. Within the next 10-20 years, that site will be developed into up to 10 assisted living homes.
The first 16-bed facility, in this Brainerd development, named Samaritan House is in the planning stages now, said Craig Ammerman, administrator at Bethany Good Samaritan Village.
"We don't want to build another institution like we have," said Ammerman, adding that these assisted living facilities will free up space at the nursing homes, allowing for more private nursing home rooms. "The basic goal is smaller the better."
The two nursing home facilities have raised $110,000 in donations so far for Samaritan House, which includes a $50,000 grant from St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. They will need to raise $90,000 more to start the $900,000 building project, which is expected to start construction next year.
"We're going to need more beds in the Brainerd area and this is our way of meeting that demand," said Ammerman.
In these assisted living homes, residents eat together in a family-like setting. It is an atmosphere that most baby boomers will find acceptable as they age. Other senior living developments also are sprouting up through Crow Wing County.
Mike Deuth, administrator at Woodland Good Samaritan Village, said health care workers tend to like working in assisted living facilities because of the home environment. Caregivers and residents get to know each other better.
Employees feel they are working within a home, providing all-around care, rather than performing the same tasks over and over again in a nursing home facility.
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