Senior living today is not the same as it was just a few years ago. Thanks to an ever-expanding market driven by an aging population, there are more options available than ever before. With advancements in technology and a more discerning clientele, senior living is becoming more sophisticated and has become more customized to individual lifestyle preferences.
New concepts in senior living reflect a clear understanding of how we age. Here are several major trends that are driving the senior living market in 2018.
More Like Home
There is a trend in senior living to make communities seem less like institutions and more like homes. This is accomplished with senior living settings that are smaller and have layouts that mirror single-family residences—albeit with more bedrooms.
One senior living model that is getting much attention is The Green House Project. There are currently more than 240 Green House locations throughout the country. Each Green House location accommodates 10 to 12 elders in physical surroundings that consist of a living room, dining room, kitchen, and private bedrooms with bathrooms.
A caring and well-trained staff meets all of the residents’ needs. Because the residents and staff spend so much time together, they become like family. Thus, the emotional connections as well as the physical environment are what make a Green House residence seem more like “home.”
Baby Boomer Preferences
Many of the current senior living trends are being driven by aging baby boomers. More than 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, and as they become a greater percentage of the retired population, they will be having an increasing impact on senior living trends.
In her insightful article, “What Will Senior Living Look Like in 2018,” which appeared on A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Blog, author Deb Hipp reports that baby boomers will transform senior living with demands for personalization.
“That’s because boomers have higher expectations as consumers and a history of having those expectations met,” Hipp writes, relying on the insights of Steve Maag, director of residential communities at LeadingAge, a national association that provides advocacy, education, and research on aging.
Among the transformations that baby boomers expect are better and more diverse dining options. This is already occurring, with many senior living communities hiring fine chefs and creating dining experiences that rival fine restaurants.
As Hipp’s article points on, there will be an increasing demand to meet specific dietary specifications, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and international cuisine.
Baby boomers also will be demanding more diverse choices in apartment styles, layouts, fixtures, and furnishings. In keeping with baby boomers’ heightened emphasis on wellness, you also can expect more senior living communities to offer state-of-the-art fitness centers, spas, and a focus on heart-healthy activities.
Technology for Seniors
Technology has had a tremendous impact on all aspects of our lives, including senior living. What is known as the Internet of Things provides us with a network of physical devices and network connectivity to enhance communication and make our lives more convenient.
With such devices as Amazon Echo and Google Home, seniors can use technology to turn off their lights, lock their doors, control appliance settings, set verbal reminders, and create shopping lists. Seniors, whether living in a private home or in a senior living residence, can use such a device to inquire about the weather or the latest news headlines, play trivia games—or even have a book read aloud to them.
Socialization is another aspect that can be provided by technology. As detailed in a recent blog post, the Gerijoy Companion from Care.coach provides seniors with much-appreciated socialization via a virtual pet, which appears as an avatar on a personal tablet. The pet is controlled remotely by a human being, who can converse with the senior, ask health-related questions, share photos and media content, and contact help in case of a health-related emergency.
Full Circle America uses a combination of technology, social networking, community outings, and in-person volunteering to support elders who wish to stay in their homes. The technological support comes in the form of web cams, motion sensors, temperature sensors, door and window sensors, medication reminders, a personal emergency response device, and an array of video-calling devices that don’t require any computer literacy to operate.
Multigenerational living is another trend worth watching. Generations ago it used to be that three—even four—generations might be living under one roof. Much of this was because of economic/affordability reasons and because there were fewer choices in senior living a generation ago. If grandparents couldn’t live alone or afford to move into a nursing home, then they moved in with family.
Assisted living has emerged as a more affordable choice for seniors in the last three decades, and now there are more than 31,000 communities housing more than 1 million seniors. Today’s assisted living residents include many seniors who otherwise would be living with their sons and daughters. A decline in multigenerational living occurred as a result.
But now there are signs that multigenerational living is on the rise again. Within the last two years, Pew Research Center reported that a record number of Americans—60.6 million—are living in multigenerational households (those with more than one generation of adults). That’s nearly one in five U.S. adults. Some of this is because of young adults moving back into their parents’ homes for economic reasons. However, there are also senior adults (ages 55 and older) living with their adult children.
Homebuilders are stepping up to fill demand by creating multigenerational homes with the focus on two generations living more cheaply than they could on their own. This arrangement is more conducive to family caregiving, and for those who need supplemental in-home care, sometimes the hours can be cut substantially when family members are available to lend a hand.
At the same time, generations can spend more meaningful time together and enrich each other’s lives through regular and deeper interactions.
CHIME IN: What do you consider to be the most exciting trends in senior living?