Two senior men relaxing in armchairs

The Ultimate in Niche Development: Senior Living for NFL Players

With 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day since January 1, 2011, senior housing has been an increasingly hot topic in the commercial real estate industry in recent years. What will the future of senior living look like, particularly for individuals requiring special care? The NFL Alumni Association (NFLAA) recently announced a partnership with a senior living company to provide assisted-living facilities for a specialized group: former NFL players living with dementia.

The NFLAA, in partnership with Tampa-based Validus Senior Living, will open the first facility in Ocoee, Florida. It is expected to open next summer. Validus Senior Living and its partners play to spend $1.1 billion to construct 33 assisted-living facilities in the next five years. The goal is to open facilities in all major cities with a high concentration of retired NFL players.

“The strategic alliance focuses on providing a better lifestyle for retired NFL players who need assisted living and memory care services,” said Joe Pisarcik, President and CEO of the NFLAA, in a statement. “With an aging population and more and more Americans needing memory care services, including some former NFL players, we want to give our members an option that we can stand behind.”

While the facility will be open to the community and not exclusive to NFL players, its focus on memory care services addresses a critical need.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s “2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report indicates that an estimated 5.1 million Americans age 65 and older currently have Alzheimer’s disease, and lists it as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million; by 2050, it could nearly triple from the current 5.1 million to a projected 13.8 million.

For football players, seeking support for any kind of dementia care can be complicated by their celebrity status. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, “for former athletes, many of whom remain national and local celebrities, diagnosis of cognitive impairment can be difficult.” Having a designated facility could provide private support for these athletic stars.

Having a shared experience in the NFL could also be beneficial in creating a sense of community, particularly as memory problems increase. Alongside technological advancements, and NFL fantasy games such as, a community designed to inhibit memory deterioration will be an essential.

“As people become more forgetful, they tend to move back to their past, so having a shared relationship for them and to be able to talk about that shared and very unique experience will benefit them all,” said Julie Shatzer, director of programs for the Central and North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, in the Orlando Sentinel.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Ocoee building will break ground Thursday, with numerous NLF Hall of Famers and alumni scheduled to attend, including Kellen Winslow, Jack Youngblood and Dwight Stephenson.

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