Options for senior living increase

Sugar Land and Missouri City residents are seeing an increase in assisted living and senior care options in their area, which is affording more local options and services to an aging population.

"Right now, our population is generally aging," said Lisa Kocich-Meyer, director of planning with the city of Sugar Land. "While that doesn't mean that new younger families aren't moving in, [it does mean] there are people who are choosing to stay after their children grow up."

Both cities are retaining or attracting older residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau information. In 2000, there were 8,989 residents age 55 and older in Sugar Land. In 2010, there were 20,300. There were 2,808 households with individuals age 65 and older in 2000, and 5,837 in 2010.

Missouri City saw similar increases. In 2000, the city had 7,051 residents age 55 and older. In 2010, that number grew to 15,571. The number of households with people age 65 and older went from 2,108 to 5,837.

In light of those statistics, new facilities and established businesses are providing care for the aging population.

"In the past few years, new assisted living facilities have opened or are in the process of opening," Kocich-Meyer said. "While these facilities may offer more traditional assisted care, some include independent living options as well."

Living facilities

The Huntington, which opened in September 2013 along FM 1092 in Missouri City, is leased out and has a lengthy waiting list, Huntington leasing agent Antoinette Christie said.

The complex features 120 units, which include one- and two-bedroom models. Staff provides activities and transportation, and the building offers residents a fitness center, library, business center and media room. Residents must be 55 or older and their income cannot exceed a certain limit. The company has broken ground on a second location in Missouri City, but no details were available at press time.

Sycamores at Sugar Land, initially called Emeritus at Imperial Park, is on track to open in early 2015. It is under the Emeritus Assisted Living umbrella.

The purpose of the facility is to provide an upscale living environment that appeals to a broad range of seniors. A total of 45 assisted living apartments, 45 memory care units and 32 skilled nursing beds will be available upon completion.

"Having these types of facilities within the community provides an option to stay in Sugar Land if they find themselves needing or wanting a different living arrangement rather than having to leave," Kocich-Meyer said.

The assisted living rooms include a kitchenette for residents to prepare food. The center also provides food made from scratch, said Charles Vallier, executive director of the Sycamores at Sugar Land. The center's amenities will include a movie theater, a TV room and outdoor patio.

Although the complex is still under construction, family members have already come by the facility's marketing trailer to express interest in moving their loved ones to Sycamores at Sugar Land, Vallier said.

"A lot of families that come in basically want to move their loved one from another facility to our facility," he said. "And [they are] always stating that there was a great need for a community that can provide new, upscale customer service to their loved one."

Hospice and home health

Altus Hospice held its Sugar Land grand opening in the summer. It provides outpatient, at-home services to about 100 patients in the Sugar Land area as well as inpatient services for patients with a higher acuity level. The inpatient unit has 15 beds and could expand to 32 if the need arises.

"The demand for inpatient unit[s] in the city is pretty high," said Kraig Killough, chief operating officer of Altus Hospice.

He said there are other facilities in the Greater Houston area, such as Conroe and The Woodlands, but none in Sugar Land.

Killough said many misconceptions about hospice care exist.

"The biggest is probably the fact that hospice is viewed as a cold service, where this is really the end of the rope, where it's more or less a service where people are being helped and aided," he said. "It's not just about the patients. It's about the families. It's preparing them for something that is inevitable."

About 90 to 95 percent of Altus Hospice's patients are seniors, Killough said.

The team that provides hospice care includes registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and nursing assistants. In addition, Altus Hospice uses social workers to help patients and their families, and they supply grievance counseling for family members up to a year after a patient dies.

A number of hospice facilities have been offering services in the area for several years, but the need has been increasing, according to city demographics. The Providence Home Health Services, an established hospice care facility, provides at-home care for various medical conditions. Its website, https://theprovidencehhs.com, lists wound management, ostomy care and tracheostomy care as some of the skilled nursing services it provides.

Specialty care

Windsor Quail Valley Post-Acute Healthcare officially opened in September and held its grand opening Oct. 22. It offers rehabilitation therapies and other services, such as wound care and Alzheimer's care for seniors.

"We're a skilled nursing facility and nursing home, so we specialize in short-term rehabilitation, whether that's physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, IV antibiotics, wound treatment, things of that sort," said Ginger Long, business development coordinator for Windsor Quail Valley Post-Acute Healthcare. "We also do long-term care."

The facility houses 120 beds. Certified nursing assistants, nursing aides and registered nurses provide care to the residents.

Future planning

In early 2014, the city of Sugar Land hosted several forums where local and national experts discussed planning for land uses in the future.

"Part of planning for a city and its future is ensuring there are choices and amenities that provide options for all segments of a community," Kocich-Meyer said.

Following the forums, city staff began to look at updating its land use master plan.

"The city currently has a project underway to update its land use plan," Kocich-Meyer said. "Some of the topics the project is addressing related to land use include redevelopment, residential options and a variety of activity centers and amenities."

Throughout the process of updating the land use plan, community members will have the opportunity to provide feedback and direction, Kocich-Meyer said.

Additional reporting by John Rigg



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