Keeping up with the seniors - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Keeping up with the seniors

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Seniors at Danberry at Inverness participating in a morning workout. (abc3340.com) Seniors at Danberry at Inverness participating in a morning workout. (abc3340.com)
BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Birmingham has been named one of the top ten retirement cities by Kiplinger. Low taxes and access to healthcare are reasons seniors consider it their sweet home. But healthcare providers and developers are changing how care is delivered as seniors are living longer and more active lives.

"Up and down, up, up," instructed the aerobics teacher to a packed room of seniors.

Every morning, the seniors at Danberry at Inverness get up and moving.

"There's a lot of living left around," said Dr. Sarah Light, a retiree.

Light lives a full life. She exercises at least twice a day, writes and produces monthly plays, hangs out with her friends, catches dinner and a movie most nights and occasionally a nap. But there's always more to do around her retirement community.

"You can't do everything around here. It would be impossible," she said.

Danberry at Inverness was built a few years ago for other 84 year olds like Light who feel 60.

"They're educated. They're world traveled. They are used to dining in fine restaurants, so they've really created an environment that is very resort like," said Lori Krueger, sales director of Danberry at Inverness.

It does feel like a resort with a salt water pool, beauty salon, masseuse, bar, and daily excursions. But this community is entirely handicap accessible and equipped with fall buttons. It's the future of senior living as people are living longer, more active lives.

"There's a bigger emphasis on prevention, better lifestyle, nutrition, on exercise, not on- 'here, take this pill,'" said Dr. Andrew Duxbury, medical director of UAB Geriatric Clinic.

The UAB geriatrician says 75 percent of baby boomers, particularly women who don't experience heart disease or cancer by 50 years of age, will live to 92. Dr. Duxbury says that appears to be leading toward a boom in people ringing in 100 years.

In 1970, just 37 hundred people reached the milestone. That number increased to 37 thousand in the 90s and 60 thousand now. There an anticipated 800 thousand to 1.2 million people celebrating 100 years by the time Baby Boomers mark that occasion.

"Not a lot of it is the medical system. More of it is equal opportunity- the fact that as a society we have developed ways to keep us away from things that will kill us early," explained Dr. Duxbury.

There are plans to accommodate this growing active senior population. If the state approves, vacant property on US 31 near I-65 in Hoover will become home to a health and rehabilitation center, which are replacing traditional nursing homes. And the old Haverty's Furniture building in Irondale will become a physical rehabilitation clinic and adult daycare next year.

"I'm a baby boomer. We have a different set of expectations. We like to be treated as individuals and to an extent we like to feel our needs are being catered to," said Bob Sprague, CEO of Northport Health Services.

Sprague says its health and rehab centers, like the one in Columbiana, are starting to resemble hotels characterized by brief stay to recover from a procedure, with more food choice and WiFi. Proposed ones in Vestavia Hills and Hoover would be similar.

"We're getting people who are younger, who are healthier, and they have a completely different set of expectations. They want private rooms. They want all the amenities that you would find in a hotel," he said.

They are just little luxuries to help seniors, like Light, continue living the full life.

"I don't think about dying. That's just not in my vocabulary," said Light.

Coming up Thursday on the News at 6, seniors have planned for their Golden Years. But unfortunately, the economy has crushed those plans. Details on how to plan for your retirement.

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