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Vancouver Sun
The Province

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A development on the west side of Vancouver is among the new kinds of housing projects aimed at accommodating an aging population.

Unlike some seniors’ housing complexes that restricts residents to 55 and older, the Opal development at 438 West King Edward has a more inclusive age range. Opal says that only one family member needs to be 55 or older, which allows multi-generational families to stay together.

A luxury, 130-unit development in Cambie Village, Opal by element, is designed so residents can live independently or use assisted living. As well, the project plans to offer 31 licenced care beds which Opal residents would have priority access to if they needed 24-hour registered nursing.

One of the owners of two condos in Opal is Douglas Guest.

Guest is only 37, but has decided to buy into the project as an option for himself and his wife when they get closer to retirement. Until then, he believes his inlaws will move into one of the 1,100-sq-ft suites once the project is completed in February 2019.

The other condo he bought for his mother Michele, 72.

Guest said he grew particularly concerned about aging in place after dealing with his father, who died last year at age 87 after a series of strokes.

Guest said he wanted to start planning now before his mother developed any health problems. He said he wanted to be pro-active about planning rather than re-active once a crisis developed.

Opal also happens to be close to where his mother currently lives on the west side of Vancouver.

“Typically, I find most people don’t think they’re going to age, don’t think they’re going to get sick at some point,” he said.

He chose Opal as a place to spend a total of $2.7 million for the two units because he liked the idea of residents being able to age in place.

“You can be living independently, and then in assisted living,” said Guest, who works in the insurance industry. “If something happens, there is care there that can be stepped up, and eventually have the full complex of care in place.”

Opal is comprised of one-storey and two four-storey buildings on the south side of King Edward between Yukon and Cambie.

It has 44 condos for sale, 56 for rent, and 30 complex-care suites.

Guest said he found out about Opal by searching online for a residence for his father that could accommodate people with dementia.

He said his experience with his father’s aging has made him more aware and sensitive to issues around aging and housing.

“Everyone is fine at home – until they’re not,” he said.

Isobel Mackenzie, who is B.C.’s seniors advocate, said based on what she has read about Opal, the development proposes to create a community in one complex even if the idea of aging in place is not entirely a new concept for seniors.

What appears to be different, she said, is that it targets a specific market: seniors aged 70 or older who don’t need care now but may in future. Opal has developed a model that is flexible enough to allow people to buy condos and live independently without having to buy meals.

The project is also designed for a unique cohort of seniors living in houses in Vancouver that have appreciated in value so much that they can afford to sell and live in an upscale housing project.

Different models for housing seniors are likely to be built as more Canadians age, Mackenzie said.

“Not everyone will want what Opal has to offer, but some people will,” she said. “For those who want what Opal has to offer, it sounds like it will be quite good. It incorporates a lot of the fundamentals of good retirement living design.”


Original Articles available here:

Vancouver Sun
The Province