aging in place

Senior Living in Transition: What’s Next?

  |  in 55+ Housing, 55+ Housing TrendsNo Comments

 

In all industries, change in the market over time is inevitable. Thriving as change occurs requires having a clear vision of the future and taking action to reposition, reimagine or redesign products and services to meet new market demands.

Senior living is an industry that has been experiencing significant changes over the last decade resulting from shifting demographics, new technology and the ACA’s transformation of the health care delivery system. The senior living market, which has been evolving during this time, has now reached a tipping point and is poised for disruption.

Disruption often comes from outside an industry; from those who see opportunity in a changing market and are not wedded to the status quo. They will initiate a product development process that includes market research to test assumptions, clarify customer values, identify unmet needs and determine the new features and benefits that will generate demand.

Many senior living developers and operators have become entrenched in existing business models that can be quite lucrative, even while serving a small (10%) segment of the growing older adult market. Taking a wait and see attitude will likely result in new industry leaders emerging who attract a larger segment of the market to their products and services.

For those interested in riding the aging wave as a developer, operator or service delivery partner, change is bringing new opportunities with the potential for significant financial rewards. A 2013 Brooks Adams research study of consumer trends reveals that 76% of adults 50+ are likely to move to some type of older adult community in the future. The industry, with its current senior housing and service models, is likely leaving more then 60% of the market on the table.

Opportunities have never been greater to re-envision current product and service models and expand the role the senior living industry can play going forward. There is great interest in finding solutions for the growing number of older adults who are unable to afford the options currently available. There are partnership opportunities with health care systems, multi-family housing developers, mixed-use developments, retail center developments, technology companies and more, for those who understand the direction these changes are taking the market and who hold a long-term vision.

For some time now the industry has been asking itself “what’s next”. It’s now time for the industry to ask that question of the market! Rather than the usual industry research that focuses on what future customers like or don’t like about current offerings, what’s needed is to listen to this new generation of older adults express their aspirations for this time of life and describe the kind of community environments and experiences that would interest and even excite them.

It takes a village to serve older adults and their families, many of whom lack the financial resources required for the existing senior housing and care options. It’s time to explore how that village might be created through partnerships with health care systems, insurance companies, real estate development, retail centers, technology companies, academia and more. Through partnerships the industry can leverage its services and expertise creating new customers and revenue streams.

Senior living is going to be HUGE. It’s time for the senior living industry to join with others and begin working to create a new vision of the future, one that is wanted and needed by so many.

Aging in This Place?

  |  in 55+ Housing, Aging in PlaceNo Comments

 

I must say that I was excited to see the results of the recent The Hartford/MIT AgeLab survey on Boomers’ future housing preferences.   According to the results released in June, 50% of adults 45 – 65 have expressed an interest in moving from their current homes for the next stage of their lives.  This is a significant change from the AARP survey results released just last year that found only 25% considering a move from their current home.  Why is this exciting? It’s not that moving out of ones home is necessarily the optimum choice for everyone as they age. What’s exciting is that a larger number of older adults have begun to think more realistically about whether or not their current home will meet their future needs and desires. It seems that Boomers may be slowly moving out of their initial stage of denial regarding the housing related changes that will be required to have an active, socially engaged and financially secure old age.  According to this survey they are thinking about their future housing needs but still don’t have a plan in place as to how this transition will actually unfold.  

 For the Boomers’ parents, “aging in place” often meant living in their current home as long as possible.  By the time they reached 80+ the family home was often the only option available outside of traditional independent and assisted living communities.  Perhaps the Boomers are taking a lesson from their parents and the fact that they will likely experience even greater longevity.  Hopefully they are learning that “aging in place” is really about living in a home and community that will support a positive aging experience for the next stage of their lives.  That may be their current home or maybe not, but the sooner they figure it out the better.

One of the keys to a successful aging in place experience is to be proactive and ask: “Can I age well in this place”?  In asking that question many factors should be considered.  These include lifestyle preferences, relationships, health status, work and financial circumstances, current home design and location. It’s not surprising that few Boomers have taken the steps to plan for this next stage of life.  After all, it’s challenging to think about life transitions and aging in particular.  It gets even more complicated when planning involves reconciling differences between couples.  In my experience this can be one of the most significant stumbling blocks of all.   Recognizing these challenges, The Hartford/MIT AgeLab partnership has put together an excellent guide to support the planning process. It’s sure to be a useful tool for many as they begin to consider how aging friendly their current living environment really is. 

Hopefully, by the time the Boomers in this study are ready to move, they’ll have many more “aging in place” housing options available to them.  Wouldn’t it be great if these options were so attractive and compelling that the only planning Boomers needed was to set a move date!