A decade ago, senior living experts were looking into their crystal balls and anticipating 2016. They expected healthcare employee shortages, paradigm shifts in assistive technology, and advances in the treatment of Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases. Many of these predictions were spot on in describing the state of senior living today. Which raises the question: Where will we be 10 years from now?
Here are trends to watch for in the next decade.
Technology will revolutionize aging
Senior living technology has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. Movement sensors alert community staff to unusual activity that may indicate a health crisis. Video games improve senior memory. And emergency response systems have expanded and improved. Keep up with the latest trends, as the impact of technology will only intensify in the next decade.
Medical technology will improve and save lives
Advances in medical technology will give seniors more autonomy and caregivers more flexibility. Portable medical devices and digital body sensors will make health monitoring more convenient and less invasive for seniors. The ability to easily respond to medical changes and crises without constant in-person monitoring will reduce personnel costs for communities, especially those at higher care levels. In the coming years, look out for improvements in:
- fall-prevention technology,
- high-tech chronic disease management,
- GPS tracking to prevent lost residents, and
- digital medication reminders.
Medical technology will also become more predictive, helping residents prevent health concerns and stay healthier longer.
Mobile devices will increase connection
Mobile devices will become more integrated into seniors’ lives, and wireless-enabled communities will be the gold-standard. Mobile technologies will help senior living residents stay in touch with family, friends, and each other more easily. Healthcare staff in assisted living will use mobile devices to answer health questions and perform regular resident check-ins.
Go beyond simply offering wiki to your residents. Keep your community ahead of the game by offering computer classes, mobile device coaching, and other personal technology how-tos.
Predictive data will speed the sales cycle
For senior living management, data collection and advancements in customer relationship management software will allow communities to better serve their residents. As the science and art of predictive analysis advances, you’ll be able to draw in your ideal residents more easily.
New models for senior housing will blossom
Seniors don’t just want to live longer. They want to get more out of life as they move into their golden years. This raises the bar for senior housing.
No more nursing homes
In Perkins Eastman’s 2015 Senior Living Industry survey, 73% of senior housing insiders predict that government healthcare policies will decrease the number of long-term care providers. As a result, senior living communities will be searching for new, cost-effective ways to provide for the healthcare needs of their residents.
Gone are the days when senior living was synonymous with nursing homes. As the cost of skilled nurses rises and Medicare and Medicaid costs remain prohibitive, senior living, assisted living, and other communities will differentiate themselves from the nursing home model.
Seniors are just fine with nursing homes becoming a thing of the past. Today’s aging adults reject an institutional feel. They’re seeking the relaxation and freedom they’ve earned. Increasingly, they want generous, community-minded senior housing options.
Activities and amenities will move beyond Bingo
Baby Boomers and other seniors will flock to the communities whose amenities beat the basics. “As Boomers and beyond age, they want to have options with regards to specific amenities, activities, and programs that appeal to their desired lifestyles,” said Dan Willis, A Place for Mom’s Senior Vice President of Partner Services.
The majority of communities are already tapped into this trend. 60% of senior living providers and experts indicate they plan on expanding amenities.
In the coming years, think outside the box. To attract residents and differentiate your community, diverse amenities, services, and activities will be paramount.
- Wellness and preventive care programs: As seniors live longer, they want healthier aging. More communities will offer yoga, mindfulness training, meditation sessions, nutrition classes, physical therapy, and massage. Be sure to keep an eye on the latest trends in senior wellness.
- Lifelong learning programs: Residents want to remain mentally fit into their golden years, too. Senior and assisted living communities will expand education offerings. They will offer group online courses, partner with universities, and invite engaging speakers to share their expertise.
- Multigenerational offerings: Senior communities don’t need to be senior-exclusive. Younger generations invigorate seniors, and all generations have plenty to learn from each other. In the coming years, communities will find innovative ways to incorporate people of all ages, from on-site daycare centers to all-ages events to senior-led classes for young adults.
Eco-friendly senior living will grow
Seniors want to help the environment and to protect it for their kids and grandkids. Sustainability will also be crucial in construction, utility choices, transportation, and other industries that serve senior living communities. Communities that make green building and product choices will boost their bottom line and impress their future residents.
The so-called tiny house movement, marked by the increased popularity of fully-functioning, green homes under 500 square feet, will likely find traction in senior housing, too. Rather than building resource-guzzling apartment complexes or sprawling homes for seniors, senior living leaders will turn toward small, individual houses with an equally tiny carbon footprint. These “granny pods” can maximize both autonomy and community, while reducing building costs and keeping communities green.
Financial education for seniors will become more important
Baby Boomers were hit especially hard by the recent recession. They lost crucial pre-retirement income due to layoffs and took a harder hit in the stock market than other groups. They haven’t recovered from these financial blows: Baby Boomers’ median net worth is 8% less than those 75 or older.
With money tight, effective financial learning tools will be even more crucial in the next decade. A quarter of a million people turn 65 each month in the United States. As these millions make decisions about senior housing, affordability will be more important than ever.
Here are some ways you can help your residents and prospects:
- Offer financial planning courses that are open to the larger community.
- Educate seniors on how to protect themselves against financial abuse.
- Hold free tax clinics, budgeting seminars, and handy sessions on saving.
- Keep your residents informed of fun, easy ways they can make money and stay engaged. Teach them to monetize their craft skills with an Etsy shop. Or help them sell their unwanted stuff at a local consignment store.
Those aging in place will continue to need systems of support
According to AARP, 87% of adults age 65+ and 71% of people age 50 to 64 want to age in place.
As more seniors make this decision, home-related services will expand. Expect more innovative transportation options for those unable to drive, such as the recent popularity of Uber ASSIST, on-call personal rides for seniors and those with mobility issues. Home health care expanded 4.3% in 2014 and that growth is only expected to mushroom, adding over 715,000 jobs by 2020.
Those unable to stay in their home or to move into senior communities will drive growth in alternative sectors. Multifamily housing will keep booming and provide folks with an inexpensive option. Multigenerational housing will also become more popular, as young families seek ways to keep their aging parents nearby.
As older adults choose alternative housing models, senior and assisted living communities will create new ways for residents to connect to the larger aging population. Communities will expand their offerings, providing home health care, activities, and services for those who are homebound, and open their doors to non-resident seniors. This will be especially crucial in fighting against senior loneliness on all fronts.
By breaking down the barriers between those aging in place and residents, senior living will broaden its definition of community.
Looking for more ways to gaze into the future? Check out our CRM predictions for 2016.