Rejected Proposal Exacerbates Senior Housing Proposal in Missoula

In December last year, fuel was added to the fire when the urge to conserve the Larchmont Golf Course clashed with the city’s urgent need for housing.  A proposal, which was presented by the WGM Group and BlueLine Development, suggested that the golf course be moved to a close-by location and redeveloped with housing which would include 450 senior-living houses. Unfortunately, commissioners insisted that the golf course would not be a viable site for the project and suggested instead that staff would conduct a nationwide inventory of public land to determine a more suitable site. While this attempt to secure land for senior living facilities has failed, it is essential that every effort is made to find safe and affordable housing solutions for Missoula’s seniors.

Is Aging in Place Just a Pipedream?

Being able to age in place is the dream of most Americans. It also boasts a host of benefits that includes it costing less than living in a nursing home, it offering a greater degree of comfort, and it being better for both the senior’s mental and physical health. Sadly, it is not always possible for a senior to age in place due to a host of reasons. Most aging Americans live in single-family, detached homes with limited access to reliable transportation services. In addition to this, the existing housing supply is unable to meet the rapidly-increasing demand for accessibility, affordability, social integration, and pertinent support services.

It Requires Effort to Age in Place

If the proposed Larchmont development was given the green light, Missoula’s seniors would have been granted access to a variety of housing options that allow for aging in place and community living. A lot needs to be considered by those fortunate enough to have a house in which to age in place. The need for personal care, nutrition services, transportation, and home health services all need to be evaluated. It is also important to ensure that the senior’s home is fitted with all the required fixtures such as grab rails, lever-style doorknobs, smoke detectors, and wheelchair ramps if required. Investing in a medical alert system that boasts fall detection is always a good idea. These systems provide access to round-the-clock emergency medical help when it is needed most. Moreover, medical alert systems help seniors stay independent longer and they also allow them to remain active with reduced risks.

What are the Alternatives?

According to Senator Ellie Boldman, the Montana housing crisis is one of the biggest concerns of the past decade. The Missoula golfing community did not agree, however, and expressed that it has taken many years to fully develop the course and tend to its landscaping. During the public hearing, Commissioner Dave Strohmaier stated: “Housing is a crisis but it’s not the only value at stake. We’re going to be looking at the full array of values and the aspects of the resources out there.” Until such a time that an alternative site is found for the new development, or other developments are approved, the city’s aging population will have to make do with what is currently available. Thankfully, this does include access (albeit limited) to a number of senior housing estates and care centers.

The rejection of the Larchmont housing development proposal was met with great disappointment. Hopefully, an alternative to Missoula’s housing crisis will be found soon.