New Facility in Austin Helping Meet Needs of Elderly

Posted at: 03/20/2013 7:08 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a project with an eight-figure price tag.

But as America ages, an upgrade and expansion project at Saint Mark's Lutheran home in Austin is more than an expense ... it's an investment.

"This project was a $13.4 million dollar project" Saint mark’s administrator Chris Schulz told us.

You might call it an investment in the future.

“We have just completed a 25 bedroom apartment, assisted living" Schulz explained. The project also included a new 16 bed transitional care unit, a new chapel and cosmetic upgrades to the existing facility.

"And then we also have a 21 memory assisted living that we'll be opening in mid April" Schulz said.

And proof of need comes in the statistics -- the number of Americans 65 years of age and older is expected to more than double from 2011 to 2050 ... from 40 million to 89 million.

"Another statistic is by 2020 in the state of Minnesota the elderly population is going to be bigger than any other population in the state of Minnesota" Saint Marks administrator Chris Schulz told us.

And more and more of them are being forced to leave their homes.

“When they were no longer able to stay home the assisted living is typically their first step" said Mower County senior advocate Nancy Donahue.

And options for whatever comes next are limited.

"There is more need for beds from an assisted living standpoint” Chris Schulz said. “Also, the memory assisted living is going to be a huge benefit to the community."

“Probably where we see the greatest need in growth is in the memory care" senior advocate Nancy Donahue said.

More and more people are being diagnosed with dementia at a younger age. And since they often don't have other physical ailments:

"Some people can be in a memory care facility for seven to ten years" Nancy Donahue said.

“So we actually have every care a person will ever need through their elderly life without ever having to leave the campus" Saint Marks’ Chris Schulz said.

Saint Marks will continue to employ about 115 people.

An open house will be planned for sometime next month.