Originally created 12/19/97

Center to assist elderly



AIKEN -- Right now, the Shadow Oaks assisted-living home is a field of dirt surrounded by a silk fence and construction tape off Richland Avenue.

But come November, the 56-bed home will be the latest in a string of assisted-living centers under construction in Aiken.

It will consist of three buildings connected by enclosed hallways. It will be made of wood and brick with pitched roofs. And it will carry a $3.25 million price tag, said owner Wade Jones.

Assisted living is recommended for people who can't live completely independently and need help with things such as daily medications, but don't require round-the-clock care in a nursing center.

"The need is here," Mr. Jones said. "I know the need is here."

Mr. Jones also owns nearby Pepper Hill Nursing Center, which he says will make a good match with Shadow Oaks.

"It will make us kind of unique," he said. "Not many have the capacity to move people into a higher level of care."

But in that respect, Shadow Oaks may not be unique for long. Cumberland Village plans to build an assisted-living wing to supplement its independent living apartments, said director Christopher Davies. Officials hope to break ground on the 28-bed wing in January, he said.

"As our population ages, more and more people are beginning to need this service," Mr. Davies said. "We have quite a few (assisted-living homes) in the area, but I don't think we're overbuilding."

Mr. Davies also billed the proximity of the new wing to existing services as a plus. "It's a natural progression for us," he said.

Aiken has four other assisted-living homes, including Hitchcock House, scheduled to open this month, according to the Aiken Area Council on Aging. Growth is expected to continue, said Charlotte Galton, the council's assistant executive director.

"That's where they're marketing their services now," she said. "The aging population is growing."