By the Numbers: Considering Today’s Decision-Makers as Tomorrow’s Senior Living Residents

The senior living residents of tomorrow will look very different from those of today, and there’s a lot of data surrounding future residents—especially the adult children of current residents—that can help shape the services communities offer and the way those amenities are marketed.

Several speakers at Life Care Services’ Senior Living Summit, held last week in Indianapolis, Ind., presented statistics from a variety of sources, including the American Seniors Housing Association and Mather LifeWays, regarding key players in the decision-making process and what’s important to the senior living resident of tomorrow.

Adult children play a major role:

  • 89% of adult children said they assisted their parents in the decision-making process to move into a senior living community.
  • 7% say they help pay for their parents’ care.
  • 77% aren’t currently paying for that care, but 13% say that while they’re not yet contributing, they eventually will need to.

Helping their parents choose and move into a senior living community often has a profound effect on how adult children form plans for their own futures. Fully half of adult children, based on what they saw with their parents’ experience, are more likely to consider a senior living community for their own wants or needs. More than half, at 55%, plan on downsizing ahead of time so their kids won’t have to do it for them.

The strongest predictor of whether adult children will one day move into a community is their willingness to recommend it to someone else, a Mather LifeWays/Brecht Associates/Ziegler survey revealed, and the trustworthiness of the community’s sponsor or owner is a key factor.

Most plan on holding out until they need to make a move (66%), while less than three in ten (29%) would move because they desire a new lifestyle, and this is reflected in the kind of community they’ll choose when the time comes:

  • 95% plan on moving into an assisted living community.
  • 90% want the continuum of care afforded by a CCRC.
  • 86% are considering independent living.
  • 60% think they might move into an active adult community

Boomer consumers

The silent generation is merging into the boomers, said Joel Bleeker, director of design at LCS Development, and although they’re “me-oriented,” there are some shared boomer values, including a belief in meritocracy, a respect for knowledge, and a lack of respect for authority.

This cohort won’t retire quietly, he said, and in fact, some won’t retire at all. Nearly three quarters (72%) of all boomers plan to work during retirement. Out of these,

  • 46% want to keep working for enjoyment
  • 12% want to start their own business
  • 3% want to work full-time for pay
  • 11% want to work part-time to supplement retirement income
Different generation, different demands
Don’t expect the upcoming generation of senior living residents to just accept today’s communities and amenities, said Mark Stelmacher, director of Market Research at LCS, during his presentation. While more than a quarter of respondents didn’t think communities their parents were living in would need to change before they themselves would want to move in, most had opinions on what they’d want to see in the community of the future.
  • 23% want more engaging activities.
  • 12% want a care continuum so they can age in place.
  • 12% want more diverse food options.
  • 27% don’t think anything needs to change.
“The biggest rise in importance of any of these factors has been activities,” said Stelmacher. “Programs and processes that engage our current and future residents are going to be extremely important.”

Transportation will be a large part of that engagement, as residents may not want the added stress of vehicle ownership, but don’t want to give up their mobility. Additionally, offering strong wellness programs to keep residents healthy and strong is paramount.

“It’s a wellness world—get on that bus as fast as you can,” Stelmacher said.

Keeping up-to-date on technology will also be crucial as residents will increasingly look for—and expect—ways to stay connected with families, friends, and the rest of the “outside” world.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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