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As Boomers Age, Experts Speculate on the Coming Changes in Senior Housing

The baby boomers are generally regarded as the generation that changed everything. Born roughly between the end of World War Two and the early years of the Vietnam War, this huge group of Americans has had an outsized impact on everything from the media we consume to the food we eat to the cars we buy to the leisure we enjoy. And now that the leading edge of the baby boomers is a few years past 70, they’re about to have a major impact in the world of senior housing.

Boomers Keep Changing Everything, Including Senior Housing

That’s the conclusion from this insightful article that appeared earlier this year on the aging-related website NextAvenue. In just over a decade, the last of the boomers will have reached age 65, and that means there will be 60 million aging boomers out there, making up roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population. A cadre of consumers that large and demanding can’t help but change the retirement housing landscape as their predecessors, the World War II generation, pass from the scene.  “Boomers have higher expectations as consumers and a history of having those expectations met,” says NextAvenue. “Significant changes are coming.”

The article references a survey of the senior housing market done by the referral service called A Place for Mom. Company researchers interviewed experts on aging, senior housing and technology to try to gauge what the coming decade might bring. “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,” says the article. “Customers of the future are going to push to do things more the way they want to do it.” Retirement communities will have little choice but to respond to consumer demand by offering more diverse services including types of housing, fine dining options, emphasis on wellness and lifestyle, and flexibility when it comes to financial arrangements.

Four Areas Where Boomers Will Change Senior Housing

The NextAvenue article lists at least four areas in which today’s boomers will transform tomorrow’s retirement housing. These are:

  • New breakthroughs in technology. Technology has real potential to improve the lives of active retirees, housing experts predict. “Whether older people of the future plan to age in place at home or move to a senior living community, technological advances will enable them to live healthier, richer lives,” said the NextAvenue Health care providers will increasingly use computers and smart phones to interact with and diagnose patients and to help monitor their wellness levels. Computers can help keep seniors mentally and physically active and alert. And while webcams and other tools can’t take the place of person to person connection with loved ones, they can definitely help fill the void caused by scattered families.
  • New challenges when it comes to family caregiving. The article in NextAvenue warns that, in the future, family members will likely be less available to help care for aging loved ones. As women remain longer in the labor force, they will be less likely to serve as family caregivers, especially those who experience divorce. At the same time the number of childless adults is on the rise.  All these sociological changes will put more pressure on paid care providers to change their business model and come up with new ways to deliver the care that a new generation of retirees will demand.
  • New pricing strategies and greater cost transparency. “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,” says one expert quoted by Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will likely feel the strain of a growing population of beneficiaries, making these programs less reliable in years to come. That means senior living facilities are going to have to offer an easy way for retirees to comparison shop online, which could help create a more robust marketplace for everybody.
  • New ways to appeal to active retirees, referred to as “the young old.Most senior living communities still find that the average move-in age remains 80-plus. But this could be changing. “Older adult communities of the future will trend toward becoming more attractive to the ‘young old,’” says NextAvenue – “boomers who’ve reached their late 60s or early 70s and want to move into senior communities while they’re still healthy enough to enjoy the amenities.”  As the law of supply and demand kicks in, aging boomers looking for new and different types of senior housing may find a lot more choices a decade from now than there are today.

Retirement Planning Involves Much More than Where You’ll Live

Choosing the right housing option for your needs and budget is a big decision, but we urge you not to make that decision in a vacuum. Your retirement plan has to blend housing with all the other interrelated facets of retirement. Our approach at AgingOptions is called a LifePlan, and what truly makes it stand out is our unique, multifaceted strategy, combining all of the essential elements into one truly comprehensive blueprint. That means financial plans, legal protection, medical coverage, housing choices and family communication are all woven together seamlessly so you can be assured that your assets will be protected and that you’ll be able to avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones as you age. When it comes to true retirement security, there’s no plan more powerful than an AgingOptions LifePlan.

There’s an easy way to find out more: accept our invitation to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar featuring Rajiv Nagaich. We hold these in locations throughout the region, and you can get all the details concerning currently scheduled seminars by clicking here for our Live Events page. Then register online for the seminar of your choice, or call us for assistance. It will be our pleasure to meet you soon at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar near you.

(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)

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