There are 74.9 million Baby Boomers, which represents almost 40% of the nation’s population. As this group starts to age, senior living communities are adapting to the cruise-ship mentality of this generation. Here are some of the ways:
1). FLEXIBLE DINING SERVICES
Many senior living communities now offer flexible dining hours, a variety of dining venues (casual to formal), chef presentations and vouchers which can be used to purchase meals, liquor and even groceries. Menus are heart healthy and many offer gluten-free choices, freshly grown herbs, organic vegetables, grass-fed meat, free range poultry and sustainable seafood. “To go” menus are available for those who desire to dine in the comfort of their own residence.
2). ABUNDANT FITNESS / WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Baby boomers want to stay active and healthy. Tai chi, yoga, Zumba and even Pilates are now norms at some senior living communities. Fully-equipped fitness centers with personal trainers, lap pools, tennis, pickleball, bocce and even golf are often available. On-site spa services are common which includes a variety of massages, facials and pedicures.
3). LARGER APARTMENTS / UPSCALE FINISHES
Today’s senior community residences are no longer designed for a single elderly individual, but instead are more suited for couples who want large open floor plans with plenty of closets and ambient lighting. Kitchens have modern stainless steel appliances, granite or quartz counter tops and upscale cabinetry. Bathrooms are luxurious but also have safety devices so residents can age in place.
Baby boomers are internet savvy and spend many hours of their day on the computer. Senior living communities now offer internet cafés and personal residences are wi-fi compatible. Some communities actually provide a tablet to each resident so they can reserve seats for entertainment or see the daily menu.
5). CONTINUING EDUCATION CLASSES
Continuing Education is huge for today’s baby boomers. Senior living communities offer programs either online or live with university professors. There are even some senior living communities located on campuses of major universities so residents can attend classes to further their education.
6). ART INSTRUCTION / CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Access to creative types of programs is important to today’s Baby Boomer. Many senior living communities offer painting classes, photography, pottery and wood working. Cultural programs either on-site or nearby are frequently available to the residents of the community. Investment clubs, wine tastings, book groups and card playing are enjoyed.
7). HIGHER ENTRANCE FEE REFUNDS
Senior living communities now offer entrance fee refunds as much as 90% to provide residents the flexibility to move out, leave to their estate or to a charity of their choice. Baby Boomers are philanthropic and leaving a legacy is important to them.
Baby boomers want to remain active in the local community through their place of worship or local charity. Senior living communities embrace these folks by hosting on-site events, providing transportation and contributing to many local organizations. Residents can also volunteer to serve on several resident council committees or be a welcome ambassador to new residents moving in.
9). MAINTENANCE-FREE LIVING
No longer being concerned with home maintenance and repairs allows today’s residents more freedom to enjoy their life and pursue traveling, taking up a new hobby or perfecting an existing one. Not wasting time waiting for a repairman or being concerned about the cost of the repair are major benefits of living in a senior living community.
10). ACCESS TO ON-SITE HEALTH CARE
Being proactive and pre-planning is in the DNA of a baby Boomer. Knowing that there is health care available provides peace of mind. Baby Boomers do not want to be a burden their spouse or to their children as they age. Some senior living communities even offer on-site physicians services which adds another level of convenience.
In summary, Baby Boomers are reshaping senior housing. The age wave is here and these changes to the senior housing industry will have long lasting effects.
Baby Boomers considering senior living retirement communities
As a Senior Housing advisor, I meet many people considering a move to a senior living community. Interestingly, I’ve noticed a trend. Younger people (baby boomers) are considering a move to senior living retirement community. Since many of these folks are or have had had to deal with aging parents; they want to plan ahead and not be a burden to their spouse, partner or children.
The baby boomers (people born between 1946- 1964) have arrived. The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.
Living Longer. Men who will turn 65 in 2030 can expect to live six years longer than those who turned 65 in 1970, according to the Urban Institute analysis of Social Security Administration data. The life expectancy for women at age 65 increased by four years over the same time period. “The gender gap in longevity is shrinking, and we are projecting big declines in the share of older women who become widows,” says Richard Johnson, a senior fellow and director of the program on retirement policy at the Urban Institute
Better health. Most people are also enjoying better health during their longer life spans. The proportion of adults age 80 and older reporting fair or poor health fell from 43 percent in 1998 to 34 percent in 2012, according to an Urban Institute analysis of University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study data.
Ethically diverse. The older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Between 2014 and 2060 the share of the older population that is non-Hispanic white is projected to drop by 24 percentage points, from 78.3 percent to 54.6 percent. The changing racial/ethnic composition of the population under age 18, relative to those ages 65 and older, has created a “diversity gap” between generations.
Working longer. Many baby boomers are working into their older ages than the generation that came before them. The proportion of men between ages 62 and 64 who are working or looking for work increased from 45 percent in 1994 to 56 percent in 2014, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Technology allows people to work remotely from home and connect with people all over the world.
Living alone. According to The Economic Status of the Elderly (NASI Medicare Brief No. 4), “More baby boomers are likely to be living alone in old age compared to their parents, for three reasons. First, more of the baby boomers have never married. Nearly 10 percent of the youngest baby boomers (are forecast never to have married by ages 55 to 64, which is twice the rate of their parents. Second, more of those who did marry will become divorced or widowed by the time they reach ages 55 to 64—25 to 30 percent of them compared to 15 to 20 percent of prior cohorts. Finally, childlessness is on the rise. In 1989, 26 percent of couples aged 25 to 34 had no children, compared to only 12 percent of such couples in 1959. These trends will result in increase in the percent of older Americans living alone, from 21 percent of those age 63 to 72 today, to 24 percent of those 10 years younger, to 37 percent of the early baby boomers.”
Health care demands. Demand for elder care will also be fueled by a steep rise in the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could nearly triple by 2050 to 14 million, from 5 million in 2015. The aging of the baby boom generation could fuel a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, to about 2.3 million in 2030 from 1.3 million in 2010. It is estimated by the year 2020, nearly 12 million people will need long-term care, and this number is sure to grow with the aging baby boomer population [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][source: Medicare.gov].
Retirement communities of today. The challenge faced by many of existing senior living communitiesis how do you attract a younger clientele when the current resident population has been living at the community for the last 10 to 15 years and are much older. Activities and dining are geared towards the existing population and not the new customer walking through the door. Change is never easy, however if the senior community can make a paradigm shift in their thinking, they may have a golden opportunity to attract these baby boomers. This new generation of residents want choices and flexibility. They are health conscious and expect a high level of service. Activity programs that end at 4:00 pm are not going to do it for these folks.
The cruise industry made the shift. Senior living communities need to follow. 10-15 years ago, the only people who went on cruises were basically senior citizens. Now, cruises offer ‘experiences” and offer personal services that are catered to the individual. You can get a personal massage or have enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner with your partner. How about a Zumba class or a nature excursion off the boat. Choices. Flexibility. Catered Lifestyle.
Retirement communities of tomorrow. Fortunately, some senior living communities are catching on. Flexible dining options, wine tastings, tai chi classes are being offered at some of the more progressive senior living communities. LBGT retirement communities are starting to emerge.
Recently, news broke that Jimmy Buffet is planning to develop a Margaritaville retirement community in Daytona Beach, Florida for Parrotheads “55 and better” seeking an “active adult community” while wasted away again, the Latitude Margaritaville will open its first branch in Daytona Beach, Florida, with similar communities also in the works. “Inspired by the legendary music and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett, your new home in paradise features exciting recreation, unmatched dining and FINtastic nightlife,” the Latitude Margaritaville site says. The $1 billion project, a collaboration between Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities, aims to create 7,000 homes in Daytona Beach; since announcing Latitude Margaritaville. The property has reportedly already received over 10,000 registrations.
The age wave is coming ashore. It’s time to put on your baggy shorts. grab your board and catch the wave.