One thousand people turn 85 years of age each day, says Time magazine, and the fact that so many of us are far outliving our ancestors is a driving force behind the proliferation of assisted living facilities in South Sound.

Easthaven Villa, a 42-unit development at 311 Cullens Road NW in Yelm, is among the newest. It has been in operation 18 months and has proven so successful that developer Mike Edwards already has another project in the works, and a third facility is being developed by George Horn.

Babyboomers are getting to the age where they are looking for places for their aging parents to live and are beginning to think about their own retirement, says Edwards, a Yelm property owner. That’s why he decided to turn 2.5 acres near the entrance to town into a $3.85 million assisted living facility, thanks in large measure to a loan underwritten by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“That’s an amazing number,” Edwards says of the growing frequency with which people make it to 85 years of age.

An entrepreneurial babyboomer himself, Edwards lives in a condominium and was inspired to build Easthaven when reading the August 1999 issue of Time .

“People over the stage where they are traveling want to simplify their lives, sell their homes, move into an easier living facility,” he says, recalling the theme of that cover story.

Based on market research and the speed with which Easthaven Villa became full, Edwards concluded there was more than enough demand for a second venture. It will be called Edwards House.

The entrepreneur has hired Assisted Living Communities Inc. (ALC), a company that specializes in building assisted living facilities and nursing homes, to tackle the project. One of the Oregon company’s latest projects is the Heritage House in Morton. It also has a Heritage House opening in Buckley with 40 units, the same size as the project being planned for Yelm.

“Their philosophy is built around the concept of aging in place,” Edwards says of ALC. “When somebody moves into the center, no matter what their medical condition is, they can remain in their apartment. They’re not moved progressively into higher-care facilities. Care comes to them rather than moving them.”

Such an approach appeals to Edwards because it is less disruptive.

“It’s always a trauma for them to be placed into assisted living or any other care home,” he says. “It’s also an additional stress or concern when people even have to move down the hall to the next destination. We want living conditions to remain as much the same as possible.”

The other project planned in Yelm is a 118-unit Canyon Ranch assisted living home on the east side of Burnett Road. Property owner Hom is planning to build the facility, which will include 1,600 square feet of daycare space.

By Kamilla K. McClelland, Business Examiner staff