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The New Age of Senior Housing: 6 Youthful Trends You Can’t Ignore

By Sandra Zimmerman

The New Age of Senior Housing: 6 Youthful Trends You Can’t IgnoreIt’s undeniable that the market for Senior Housing is growing as are the number of “golden” opportunities for property management companies in this sector. However, when there’s a good opportunity, there are also droves of people trying to capitalize on it — and the competition heats up.

So how do you stay competitive in the senior housing market? The first step is to understand that the new generation of retirees expects more than the stereo-typical retirement residence of yesterday.

The ”Young” Generation of Seniors

The Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1965) will be reaching retirement age over the next two decades. This generation is different from the ones that came before it. They are used to having more and now they expect more — more space, more luxury, more amenities and more social activities. But perhaps the defining characteristic of this generation is that they refuse to act their age. In general they are healthier, more active and better educated than their predecessors. They stay connected with family online; they care about the environment and sustainability; they have an interest in continued learning and new challenges — and they look forward to meeting their friends for coffee or even “happy hour”. And in many cases they are moving to retirement communities as a lifestyle choice, not because they can no longer care for themselves. They are looking for a place that can make good on the promise of these being “the golden years”.

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Destination Communities

Whether it’s on the water, close to a vibrant urban core, near a suburban shopping mall or wellness center, or adjacent to green spaces with walking trails, there should be a main feature or attribute that draws people to that community. If your property has one or more of these attributes, be sure to promote it extensively. If your location doesn’t offer any of these, there is an opportunity to convert existing spaces to offer seniors more of what they are looking for. Ground level floors can be converted to retail space or wellness and social spaces. Well-designed and appointed rooftop terraces can also provide the opportunity to enjoy some fresh air, relax and socialize.

Living In Luxury

Developers have been responding to the higher expectations of Baby Boomers by creating retirement communities that look more like a high end hotel or vacation resort, rather than yesterday’s institutional-looking “old folks home”. Such communities offer in-demand amenities like wellness spas, fitness clubs, beauty salons and internet cafés. Larger suites and more common areas are also popular selling points for retirees who are looking to live well.

Spicing Things Up

This generation of retirees doesn’t see themselves as “retiring”. In fact, many of them consider this to be their prime time to really enjoy life and experience new things. As such, there is a demand for more varied recreational and social activities beyond Bingo, as well as programs for continuing education. Here are some ideas for activities that will add some flavour to your community:

 • Letterboxing (walking treasure hunt)
 • Grow Your Own Food
 • Photography Club
 • Tai Chi / Yoga
 • Zumba “Gold”
 • Art Classes
 • Wine or Tea Tasting
 • DJ Dance Party

Aging in Place

As the retirement community lifestyle evolves and becomes more appealing, there is an emerging trend of people joining such communities at a younger age, when they are still very active and mobile. As tenant retention is a priority in property management, you will want to keep these residents in your community for as long as possible by continuing to meet their needs as they grow older. A key strategy is to provide living units that will accommodate the changing needs of aging residents. Some features to consider are wider doorways, larger bathrooms with space for attendants, windows that are easy to open and shut, and doors with lever handles as opposed to doorknobs. Another important consideration is to offer higher levels of health care service to support aging in place.

Related Post: 5 Tips for Marketing Rental Properties to Baby Boomers

Being Responsible for the Future

Today’s retirees are concerned about the environment and the well-being of the planet for future generations. They look for properties that make energy efficiency and pollution reduction a priority. For the building itself, this would include high efficiency lighting, high rated insulation, water conserving fixtures and energy efficient appliances. However there is a growing trend to consider landscaping and green spaces in the environmental responsibility plan of a property. This includes the use of drought-resistant indigenous vegetation in landscaping, as well as vegetation that helps to support natural wildlife of the area.

If you are looking to venture into the senior housing market, or if you are already there and want to make sure you stay ahead of the curve, be sure to give careful consideration to these trends and evolve your property management portfolio and marketing plan accordingly.
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