Charlotte Media Group committed in January to publishing a monthly section dedicated to issues of interest to older adults. We branded “Thrive Over 55” to match our biannual senior expos.
As a precursor to next week’s special edition outlining 2020’s biggest newsmakers, we thought we’d walk through memory lane to highlight some of the biggest issues affecting older adults this year.
The nature of events change
Charlotte Media Group postponed its Thrive Over 55 Senior Expo from March 20 to May 16 (eventually getting canceled) shortly after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency March 10 in response to COVID-19.
This was before we would see Cooper’s mass gathering restrictions and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warnings to wears masks. At that time, COVID-19 was assumed to affect mostly older adults, so we didn’t want to put our readers at risk.
Shortly after, other events and large gatherings began getting postponed or canceled.
Soon, events like the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, went virtual. That particular event raised $577,000 despite the pandemic.
Eventually, the Levine Senior Center, Matthews Rotary Club, Town of Waxhaw and other organizations began holding drive-thru events to distribute food and supplies to older adults and veterans.
Counties identify outbreaks at nursing homes
Nursing homes in Charlotte, Matthews, Monroe and Pineville were among the first in the region to report COVID-19 outbreaks of two or more positive cases in April.
Health departments in Mecklenburg and Union counties guided prevention as well as containment. Many of these places instituted strict safety protocols among staff, ensuring the most vulnerable weren’t exposed to the virus.
North Carolina required biweekly COVID-19 testing at nursing homes in August.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Harden questioned if leaders were doing enough to protect older adults.
Patriotism reverberated through neighborhoods
Steve Davis, a retired Air Force staff sergeant, stood outside his Matthews home and played “Taps” for Memorial Day, but the salute to the fallen became a daily ritual beloved by neighbors.
Members of the Hooks-Orr American Legion Post 235 rolled up their sleeves to restore the veterans memorial at Stumptown Park in Matthews. Led by Commander Mark Tofano, they sought to give a proper tribute to fallen heroes.
The post showed off its work during its annual Veterans Day observance.
Indian Trail and Waxhaw held virtual events to honor veterans. Waxhaw unveiled a new patriotic sculpture for American Legion Post 208 at the Waxhaw Military Wall of Honor.
Towns saw more senior housing projects
Cities, towns, villages and unincorporated areas continued to see high demand from the development community for age-targeted and age-restricted housing projects. Developers even touted a new form of a housing in Matthews – the unbundled senior living experience.
These types of projects saw the most resistance in the western portions of Union County, where higher density projects were proposed just outside of town boundaries.
Southminster opens doors to $120 million expansion
Southminster welcomed new residents in the fall to a new hybrid villa concept and unveiled a 200,000-square-foot health center with four skilled nursing neighborhoods as well as assisted living apartments.
These enhancements to the south Charlotte campus were part of a $120 million expansion. A tour of the expansion revealed large open floor plans with the feel of a custom home and a connectedness to amenities in the health center.