One new element that is attracting younger residents to senior living communities was not historically part of the “retirement” concept: work.
Yet as people of traditional retirement age continue to work longer, whether full time or part time, it’s becoming a consideration for those who develop and manage senior living communities including independent living, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities.
Partially due to economic factors and partially due to increasing lifespans, the average retirement age is rising.
“The proportion of adults 55-64 working or seeking work increased from 56% to 65% between 1990 and 2010. The proportion of adults 65 and older working or seeking work increased from 12% to 17% over the same period,” according to a 2011 Government Accountability analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.
The shift in retirement age is leading some designers of senior living communities to plan spaces accordingly so residents can continue to work from home.
“More and more, residents are still involved in personal business and charitable ventures,” says says Rocky Berg, principal with Dallas-based THREE Living, which counts senior living among its specialties. “They have work, entertainment and personal needs within the units.”
The layout in highest demand, Berg says, is a one-bedroom plus a den space that can meet those needs. Plugging in is increasingly important as well—not just on a community level but on an individual basis so residents continue work from home.
“In the past we were providing classrooms, or Internet cafes,” Berg says. “Bandwith is growing. Residents are tapping in, and digital accommodation within the units is growing.”
Connectivity is one aspect with an underlying desire to continue work, says says Dan Cinelli, managing principal at planning and design firm Perkins Eastman, citing a recent discussion among community leaders for a community he helped design.
“This generation is very sharp. In a recent board retreat, one member talked about one of the things to attract this generation, which traditionally says: ‘I’ll stay in my house.'”
The idea: to facilitate job placement to continue providing career support for residents.
And while the phenomenon is more commonplace in communities that traditionally attract younger residents, it is a selling point among all community types, operators say, as prospective residents seek information about the space available and how it can be used. .
“When it comes to growth we have been experiencing with younger seniors, those are people who can take advantage of that space if they are working, or [are just looking for] additional living space,” says Dan Dunne, Erickson Living’s director of communications. “For people outside of the labor force, that’s not as much of an issue, but it is for people in their 60s or 70s or beyond that may still be working.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker