Elmore Kittower was 80 when he died in November 2007 at Silverado Senior Living, an assisted-living facility in Calabasas. His death was initially attributed to natural causes; at the time, a sheriff’s deputy told Kittower’s wife of 49 years, Rita, that her husband had “just stopped breathing.”
The 169 residents of Orange County's only Jewish retirement home possess a varying range of physical and mental limitations. Yet, compared to the original occupants who moved in 12 years ago, new arrivals to Heritage Pointe are considerably older and more frail. The average age is 89.
That demographic shift is changing expectations about Heritage Pointe's targeted population, which is less independent than anticipated. Older residents are also likely to spur in the near future a broadening of services, such as a contemplated dementia unit. Yet, despite an over-60 county population of 13 percent that far exceeds the 4 percent state average, there is no waiting list for Heritage Pointe's 178 units, which average $2,600 monthly. Occupancy has declined to 88 percent, which administrators blame on a proliferation of newer, rival facilities that make the county one of the nation's most densely populated for senior housing.