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Senior living booms in North Fulton

Bickford opens Alpharetta site

Bickford Alpharetta recently opened its doors with a ribbon cutting featuring Mayor David Belle Isle. From left are Bickford owner Joe Eby, Belle Isle, Marianne Bagwell, an Alpharetta resident at Bickford, LaDonna Hagen, manager of Bickford Alpharetta, and Alan Fairbanks, Bickford vice president of operations. JONATHAN COPSEY/Staff. (click for larger version)
February 22, 2014
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The most recent in a number of new assisted living facilities opened in January after more than a year of construction and remodeling.

Bickford Senior Living, located on North Point Parkway just south of Old Milton Parkway, has enough beds for more than 80 residents. It specializes in Alzheimer's and dementia care. A special unit called "Mary B's" is named for their first resident.

The Eby family has owned the business for 23 years. Their first resident was owner Joe Eby's grandmother in 1991, who had Alzheimer's. Mary Bickford was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the late 1980s, at a time when the home care concept was still in its infancy. Her options were to go into a nursing home or be institutionalized. Neither option appealed to her family, who decided to start Bickford Assisted Living to care for her and those like her.

"We just wanted to care for our family," Eby said.

Bickford of Alpharetta is the third location for the chain, which already has sites in Buckhead and Marietta, and more than 40 more scattered throughout the country serving the aging community.

Eby said North Fulton had a need for Bickford's services.

"We find areas that are underserved and have a need. It was a need that brought us here," Eby said.

According to the 2010 Census numbers, 7.4 percent of Alpharetta's population is over 65. Nearby cities show about the same numbers – Johns Creek is 6.7 percent, Roswell is 10.4 percent and Milton is 6.3 percent. With an aging population, senior living homes are needed more and more. Georgia as a whole has more than 10 percent aged over 65.

Just last year, three new senior living centers opened along Ga. 9, all within a few miles of each other in Alpharetta, Milton and Forsyth County.

Many older couples are choosing to move from out of state to be closer to their children or grandchildren, said Jessica Carroll-Miller, social media director with Benton House, one of the senior living groups that expanded last year. If they do not have full mobility, assisted living homes are a good option, she said.

For more on Bickford, visit them online at

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