Senior housing development over the next few years will be focused on niches as developers and operators seek higher margins in the product and services that they offer besides the broader, cookie-cutter facilities that currently exist. A recent survey by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging in collaboration with Caring Communities Shared Services and Life Services Network (LSN) of Illinois, the state affiliate of the American Association of Homes and Services of the Aging and the Assisted Living Federation of America shows that older adults will focus their interests on facilities where they can maintain their independence as well as feel connected by both experience and technology.
The survey, conducted in October and November 2008, includes responses from 107 senior living organizations in 13 states, representing 435 senior living communities. The survey’s results identify that communities with 300 or more units appear to be leading the way in providing the most flexible options and have demonstrated taking the initiative to build partnerships amongst the local community.
The survey out lines the following trends, including:
Maintaining Resident Independence
- Incorporating "smart home" technology and wireless connectivity into senior living residences.
- Bringing home health care, tele-health technology, geriatric assessment services, and non-medical home care services into senior living communities to promote quality of life as one "ages in place."
Expansion of Programs/Services Outside of Senior Living Communities
- Providing home health and adult day care services.
- Delivering services to older adults in their homes through programs such as the "Beacon Hill" model.
Wellness and Lifelong Learning for Senior Living Residents
- Integrating and expanding wellness programs into senior living design including wellness/healing gardens, health spas, therapy pools, putting greens, and indoor aquatic centers.
- Providing web-based education and lifelong learning programs for residents.
Environmentally Aware Senior Living Communities
- Obtaining LEED certification to demonstrate new construction and renovations are achieving "green" standards.
- Building "small house" models for residents in long-term care settings: Small houses are self-contained buildings for small numbers of residents, organized in a way to maximize normal living environments and routines, resident autonomy, sense of community, and quality of life.
"The results of this survey are significant because there are few published studies that examine trends in programs, amenities, and environments among aging services providers," said Mary Leary, President and CEO, Mather LifeWays.
"The survey results tell us that it will not be business as usual for senior living communities in the years ahead," said Linda Hollinger-Smith, Vice President, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. "It’s clear that with the projected decline in the 75 to 84 age population over the next decade, senior living organizations will need to identify their ‘niche’ to attract this generation prior to the arrival of the Baby Boomers."