Exiting the workforce at a “traditional” age is no longer the norm for many older adults, and senior living communities are learning that in order to keep their residents happy and provide a comprehensively convenient environment, they may have to accommodate a variety of interests—including residents who still work in some capacity.
Some retirement communities make a point of including business centers at all or most of their locations, and while it’s a relatively small percentage of senior living residents who are still working, that number is growing, says John Spooner, Greystone Communities’ executive vice president.
Traditionally, people may have planned on retiring at about 62, then perhaps take up a hobby or pursue a leisurely lifestyle, but recent studies show that attitudes toward retirement are changing.
“The changes in the workplace have made the retirement more gray,” says Troy Bourne, the vice president of planning and development at Continuing Life Communities, a California-based CCRC chain. “People used to retire [at a younger age], but now, not so much. People quasi-retire.”
These days, it’s more likely for someone to continue working well into “traditional” retirement age. That could look like simply scaling back the number of hours worked, volunteering at a church or for some other cause, or even switching careers altogether, Spooner says.
Business centers have always been included in CLC communities, Bourne says. They have about a dozen computers along with other equipment, like fax or copy machines, are are free for residents to use.
“They’re like a mini [FedEx] Kinko’s,” he says. “It’s access to all of those things, without having to leave the community.”
For Continuing Life Communities residents, most of those who still work in some capacity are self-employed or work as a consultant, Bourne continues. They may still be doing work that’s similar to their original career, but they’re doing it from a home office.
“The workplace has just become a little more fluid that way,” he says.
That’s similar to what Spooner has seen at Greystone communities, most of which have a business center (some are even starting to include adjacent board rooms or meeting rooms).
“Many of our residents, both male and female, were the owners of family businesses and play an ongoing role in that business,” he says.
Looking ahead to the aging boomer population, Spooner says senior living providers will need to accommodate that generation’s attitudes toward work and retirement, and that’s what Greystone is trying to do.
“Boomers are still far away from entering a retirement community, but tremendously high percentages say they’ll never stop working,” he says. “We’ve seen these statistics, and we’ll adapt and implement and complement whatever their values are.”
Entering a senior living community shouldn’t automatically mean retirement, Spooner and Bourne agree, adding that their companies seek to accommodate a longer work life and the desire of people to remain in the workforce longer.
Written by Alyssa Gerace