Senior care experts and AEC Living CEO and COO, Lauren Zimmerman Cook and Stephen Zimmerman, are bullish about what 2018 will bring for the 47-year old Alameda-based AEC Living senior community and elder care business they’ve taken over from their father, Christian Zimmerman. Zimmerman started AEC Living in 1971 with a single facility, which has grown to two independently operated assisted living and memory care communities, a 55+ senior co-housing community, a home care services, and an outpatient Medicare-approved senior wellness and therapy agency.
As the second generation of their successful family-owned business, the younger Zimmermans have certainly made their own mark since taking over the family business. With their long history in senior care, combined with their gerontology and business educations—Lauren is licensed nursing home administrator and has a graduate degree in Gerontology and multiple masters in Law and Business, Stephen is a licensed RCFE Administrator with graduates degree in Gerontology as well–and the fact they are Millennials, they’ve made a significant impact on the way they do business.
Expanding and Improving Services for East Bay Seniors
The Zimmermans have focused on expanding and improving the services they provide residents and their families and other non-resident seniors in the community. Some improvements and local innovations that can be attributed to the second generation include:
- A leading-edge remodel of their memory-care facility for elders diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia. The remodel makes it like no other in the Bay Area. As a result, resident and staff experience and happiness significantly improved and they saw a boost in the number of outside visitors and their length of stay, too. It’s a forward-thinking concept in this type of care and it changes the game for the residents, the families, and the caregivers—and it’s here in the East Bay.
- Opening AES Therapy and Fitness with two locations in Alameda that uniquely specializes in therapy and wellness services for seniors in the community. The outpatient clinic’s goal is to help seniors maintain and regain their fitness, strength, balance, and confidence through specialized physical therapy or personal training sessions tailored to their specific needs and wellness goals.
- Seeing the need in the community for seniors who wish to age at home and need specialized and accessible home care, they launched AEC Home Care to provide in-home personal care for seniors.
- Developing and working with the community members of Phoenix Commons, a new senior co-housing community for people 55 and older located along the waterfront in Oakland, California. It’s made them one of the largest developers and among just a handful of co-housing experts across the United States.
- Starting a community publication, Alameda Senior Magazine that focuses on seniors in Alameda and the surrounding community.
Investing in Staff
Non-clinical positions in elder care have notoriously high turnover. Lauren and Stephen have made huge strides in addressing this issue by making AEC Living a place where employees want to stay and grow—and they do. They regularly celebrate employees’ five, 10 and 20-year anniversaries.
The Zimmermans see that competition for some of their housekeeping and janitorial jobs are with similar-wage positions in the restaurant and hospitality industry. So they’ve invested directly in scholarships, professional training and certification for entry-level employees who wish to grow with them.
They also have a formal administrative program where people can enter the company in a clerical office or entry level and AEC Living will help them earn certain licenses and grow into a managerial position with the company. They treat their employees the way they want their employees to treat their residents and other clientele, with kindness. It is not unusual to see employees stay at AEC Living—and coworkers who are immediate family members.
AEC living is one of about five mid-sized, family-owned senior assisted living providers in the country. Committed to staying independent, AEC Living continues to strive to deliver the very best programs and senior living options possible to serve the senior population of the East Bay. The Zimmermans continue to focus on quality and care–where the roots of the company are set–and to make that affordable. It’s a different take from their competitors in the area that rose from the hospitality business and keep a keen eye on corporate profits.
They are growing the company’s services both inside and outside of its current operations, working hard to recruit quality staff at every level. They post jobs regularly on their website at http://www.aecliving.com/careers.
Personally, each of them are very active in the community, giving back and participating in the nonprofits that make a difference. Both Lauren and Stephen hold many board positions in organizations throughout Oakland and Alameda, including the Rotary Club, Girls Inc., The Boy Scouts, The Chamber of Commerce, among others.