July 19, 2023
Part of The Forestias project, The Aspen Tree is redefining senior living with a holistic approach towards well-being
The Aspen Tree aims high as it is driven by lofty goals. The project aspires to be not just the country's first and finest healthy living community for older people but a model for the world on how to age successfully.
"We understand that our population is ageing rapidly, but society does not seem ready yet," said Park Hye-june, president of The Aspen Tree, a brand of residence under the 398 rai, mixed-use The Forestias project on Bang Na-Trat Km7.
The Aspen Tree, featuring 40 sky villas and 250 condominiums, was launched by Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) in 2020.
The project appeals to people over 50 who wish to pursue independent, worry-free, healthy and active lifestyles through its ageing-in-place concept and holistic lifetime care.
To remove the pain point of having to deal with uncertainties in life, the single, one-time home and services payment includes a lifetime health insurance covering medical needs until 99, 24/7 care support, weekly house-keeping services, daily breakfast and access to a purpose-built wellness clubhouse where a variety of programmes plus social activities are available.
The upscale residence also has an onsite health and brain centre where specialised medical services are provided for residents, according to Park.
"A lifetime of care and support may sound ambitious. With expert help and experience from Baycrest, however, we are confident we can make it happen," Park said.
Baycrest is a non-profit organisation specialising in care for the elderly and brain health based in Toronto, Canada. Established in 1918, it is recognised as among the world leaders with full-scale expertise ranging from research and innovation to specialised hospitals and residential support.
As a strategic partner, Baycrest will be responsible for the entire experience of living at The Aspen Tree.
According to William Reichman, president and CEO of Baycrest, being in good health is important but it is not enough.
"When we care for people at Baycrest, do we try to keep them as healthy as we can? Yes of course. But that does not give people reasons to live. All of us need other reasons to want to get up in the morning. That is true if we are 25 years old. It is also true if we are 85 years old," Reichman said.
He added that people aspire to have purposes, to feel inspired and to experience a sense of fulfilment.
"For many people, growing old means accumulating losses. We lose people we love, our careers or activities that we used to enjoy. But at Baycrest, getting old means growing. There are always opportunities to learn or to get involved with things we perhaps did not have time for," he said.
Baycrest chose to partner with The Aspen Tree because their purposes are aligned -- to do good in the world.
"Most people interested in developing senior living or hospitals do so for money -- and that is important. But what drives Aspen Tree and MQDC and what motivates Baycrest is to have a social impact," Reichman said.
To him, The Aspen Tree, which will start operation next year is a demonstration of what is possible when proper arrangements are made for the elderly, no matter how old or frail.
"We want to show the world that a specialised place does not have to be depressing or sad. It does not need to be an institution that nobody wants to live in. When we do it properly, others in the world can emulate us so that more and more older people can live happily."
Reichman added that the team is trying to design services in such a way that more people will be able to access them.
"It is not just for very rich people. It is for everybody, but we have to start somewhere," he stressed.
While Park said adapting the more Western approach to healthcare to Thai culture is among one of the challenges the team faces, Reichman insisted he has found more similarities than differences.
"In most high-income countries, older adults are afraid to go away from their homes. People need to be with other people. That is the same all over the world. The only difference between the East and West so to speak is there is more commitment in Eastern cultures for the family to take care of the elders," Reichman said.
He emphasised that The Aspen Tree serves the whole family, not just older residents. The family will be kept involved and engaged even if the older adults live in their own apartments.
Park added that in this respect, The Aspen Tree benefits from being part of The Forestias where an expansive, 30 rai forest complete with a 1.6km canopy walkway is available along with activities for multigenerational interests including a sports complex, Town Centre for community activities and entertainment facilities as well as multiple markets.
"One of the reasons why older adults do not want to live away from their children is they are afraid of losing their place in the family, that they will no longer be a mother or father when they live somewhere else. We don't allow that to happen. When people come to live with us, we make sure to understand what are their personal interests and those that they share with their families. We make sure they don't lose the connections," Reichman said.
"That is our promise. We will provide for the family what we will wish for ourselves and our own family. Anything less than that is unacceptable."
Credit: Bangkok Post