After a chef-prepared breakfast with new friends, the residents of Aegis Gardens gather in the upstairs loft for some coffee and tea. In the background, the calming views of the lake fill the wall of windows. Later, residents greet the instructor for morning tai chi and move from pose to pose throughout their class. Some are seated for better balance but are able to still participate with modified moves. Afterwards, residents meet up in the mahjong room for some friendly competition before a dim sum lunch, while others attend a seminar on the benefits of acupuncture at the adjacent Stan Head Cultural Center. This isn’t your typical senior housing experience, or at least one that you might picture.
Aegis Gardens is an example of a growing niche in the assisted living and memory care industry—affinity senior living communities. These communities are designed to cater to individuals who share religions, cultures, and backgrounds. An affinity assisted living community offers seniors a smoother transition to senior housing.
Aegis Living opened their first Chinese culturally-designed community in Fremont, California in 2001. This past year, Aegis Gardens opened a second location in Newcastle, Washington. The details and commitment that went into planning Aegis Gardens has created an experience with a profound respect for the Chinese Culture.
Life at Aegis Gardens is made better by the engaging traditional activities, authentic Chinese cuisine, and the multilingual care staff who ensure that residents can clearly communicate with someone who understands their language. “In a standard assisted living community, the residents might feel disconnected if their English is not very good,” says Aegis Gardens General Manager Meng Lo. “Being able to communicate in your native language strengthens friendships within the community and with their caregivers.”
Affinity senior living communities are different from other senior housing options in that they focus on creating a culturally-sensitive experience. However, these communities are not exclusive. Anyone who is open-minded or would like to retire in a place with an international flair are welcome.
Affinity communities may also include housing for military officers, university alumni, and LGBTQ seniors. It is natural to want to be yourself, practice your beliefs freely and be among people who support and understand you. Many new LGBTQ senior housing communities have been built across the U.S. The goal of the LGBTQ communities is to create welcoming homes that are discrimination-free.
With over 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, the demand for senior housing is growing exponentially. Affinity senior communities will also need to expand to meet that demand.