By Fay Wein
The shape of senior living communities across the world has changed drastically over the past several years. Baby boomers have their own unique ideas of what their retirement years are going to look like, and the industry must change in order to fit the shape of their unique preferences. This year’s anticipated trends don’t look like your grandmother’s retirement!
Changes in technology make it possible for seniors to adapt to many of the challenges that come with the aging process. From wearable devices that automatically alert caregivers of a fall to large-screen phones, remotes and other important devices, seniors have more high-quality care options than ever before. There are even geo-fencing options available that can help keep individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia inside safe spaces.
Aging in place has become increasingly attractive to many seniors. They want to be able to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Affordable in-home care and changes in technology have helped to make home care a more viable option for many individuals. Senior Planning Services, a tri-state area Medicaid planning firm, cites a recent AARP study which estimates that early 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible.
Senior Living Partnerships
Senior living providers are rapidly becoming major power players in the health care scene. Physicians, hospitals, insurers, and other organizations within the United States health care system are coming together to create more comprehensive care that provides exactly what many seniors need. As the baby boomer generation hits their senior years, their increased numbers give senior providers increased impact.
Everyone deserves to age with dignity and to be cared for as a whole person. Person-centered care isn’t a new trend, but it is one that is rapidly gaining ground. When aging individuals receive person-centered care from nursing homes, doctors, and other health care organizations, they are assured that they will be treated as an individual, rather than being treated based only on the capabilities that they no longer have.
Life Plan Community
Instead of “Continuing Care Retirement Communities,” many aging individuals prefer the image created by a “life plan community.” Life plan communities are dedicated to helping seniors make the most out of every moment, from living a full and active life to maintaining their health for as long as possible. These communities are based on living in the moment now, as younger seniors, not just on the need for continuing care past a certain age or health level.
More and more memory care units are embracing the theory behind reminiscence therapy and extending it. They’re stimulating all the senses—not just sight and sound, but even smell and touch—and creating communities that are reminiscent of the world in which seniors grew up. This helps give many seniors a firmer foundation for retrieving long-term memories of the past.
Senior co-housing offers all the convenience of a single-family dwelling while simultaneously reducing costs and providing a sense of companionship. They have shared responsibilities and access to communal caregivers to assist with daily tasks. It’s the perfect balance between institutionalized living and remaining at home, especially for those seniors who might not have a solid support system in place if they continue to live on their own.
Many assisted living facilities are embracing the green movement. The goal isn’t just to entice earth-conscious baby boomers. Going green also helps cut heating and cooling costs, improve water conservation efforts, and meet Energy Star standards across many of the devices used in the facility.
One of the most critical changes to senior housing trends is the changes made to appropriate locations. Many facilities are considering the area’s appeal to younger seniors. What makes it a great retirement destination? What amenities are readily available throughout the area? Many senior living communities are learning that the smart thing is no longer to build next to a mall or urban center with lots of shopping. Instead, they’re looking for new opportunities for engaging, senior-friendly activities for those early retirement years.
Independent Living, Not Assisted Living
More facilities now are being designed to appeal to the under-80 crowd. Baby boomers know that they can expect to live comfortably on their own, experiencing reasonable health, for a long time. The senior housing market is gradually adapting to that need by providing independent living facilities that celebrate independence.
Developers and providers will need to enhance seniors’ living environments in ways they might never have considered before in order to compete with the rapidly shifting market. The current goal is to create environments based around the baby boomer mindset: to create a place where they will want to live, not just a place where they need to live. Today’s seniors won’t settle for less!
This post was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.