As we age the question arises as to where we will spend the later years of our life. The baby boomer generation has never been one to accept the status quo, and that won’t change when it comes to senior living communities
A Shift in Family Caregiving
In the future, family members will likely have less availability to provide caregiving for aging loved ones.
A few reasons for the coming shift include:
- women remaining in the work force longer – thus not being available to care for aging parents.
- Higher divorce rates among older people – restricting their family caregiving roles.
When you take the above shifts into consideration – it’s unlikely that family caregivers will be able to keep up with the level of caregiving that was performed by previous generations.
Boomers Will Change Retirement Housing
Robert Kramer who in the 90’s launched what would become the leading trade group for the retirement housing industry called National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and care or NIC believes that boomers, many of which are now in their early 70s, will transform the industry, which now includes more than 23,000 professionally-managed senior housing and nursing care communities.
“We’re entering a time of disruptive innovation. The basic business model and system will be radically disrupted.,” he told me. “My job is figuring out the people and the idea trends that will disrupt the sector in a positive way.” Now that’s a cool job!
Probably the first thing the boomers will do will be to force the industry to abandon the word “senior.” The term is an anathema to this generation.
More importantly, retirement housing developers will need to adopt to their new customers’ changing expectations about the good life in retirement.
Traditionally, the language of retirement is “I’m done,” says Kramer. “You disengage from society.” But the language of boomers entering their retirement years is very different. “It’s ‘What do I want to do next?” says Kramer. He expects 40 to 50% of residents in retirement housing complexes in the future will be working, launching their second and third careers.
“Boomers won’t retire,” Kramer says. “They will transition.”
We boomers believe the elder years should be a time of the 4 E’s: engagement, enrichment, experience and enjoyment. “It’s the purposeful years,” says Kramer.
Baby boomers want to have a voice in decisions in things like financial structure and payment systems and will push back and be assertive if they have questions and concerns.
Technology Improves Boomer Living
Technology is improving senior living today and will only continue to grow in the future. First off even now some insurances allow you to use telehealth or rather see the doctor via your computer screen. From the privacy of your own home the doctor can diagnose, interact and treat the patient.
Telehealth, already in place in many rural communities, breaks down transportation barriers for seniors, mitigates healthcare costs such as emergency room visits, and helps seniors remain in their homes longer. Another positive about this system is it allows the physician to get a peek into the person’s environment and see what meds they are taking rather then having the patient bring them in.
Many senior communities use similar technology to help its residents connect via webcam with friends and family as well as engage in personalized, mind stimulating activities. There is so many break throughs with the ability to use technology with both mental and physical fitness.
Changing Price Points
Since not all baby boomers will have the same level of income such as pensions and paid off mortgages it’s safe to say that there will be a large range of affordability between boomers.
One very interesting statistic is the difference between monthly median cost for assisted living. For example what may cost you $5600 in Massachusetts you can get for $2,000 in Nebraska. It is possible that you may need to change states to afford the lifestyle you want.
The great thing is we as boomers have grown accustomed to the transparency offered by online price comparison. As we move forward I think we can expect to be able to shop for the best options online just like we shop for books.
Appealing to the “Young Old”
One interesting thing about boomer is we grew up at a very interesting time. No other time in history has a generation demanded so much change. Senior communities of the future will trend toward becoming more attractive to the “young old,” boomers who’ve reached their late 60s or early 70s by 2028 and want to move into senior communities while they’re still healthy enough to enjoy the amenities.
It looks like the generation at the helm of a more health-conscious society, rock ‘n’ roll music and war protests is now well on its way to bringing about societal change in senior living.