Redefining Expectations of Senior Living

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From youth, the baby boomer generation has broken the barriers on what is considered "normal". They have been long associated with redefining traditional values and considered more active and more physically fit compared to previous generations. It should be no surprise this group would want to maintain their health and continue being active as they age. Now, upon retirement, this generation continues to create their own standards as they start a new stage in life.

Over the next 15 years, the 65+ population is expected to increase by 32%. With many baby boomers already in the process of retiring or approaching retirement, demand for housing is continually rising. However, this generation does not have the "rocking chair on the front porch" mentality, they are looking to retire into the future. Sixty-Five percent of seniors prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. They are still active and are not in need of the services the typical 'old folk's home" provides. The issue with staying in their homes is that when additional care is required the decision is no longer a want to move proposition but a need to move problem. The choices become more limited and the potential for being a part of a larger active community is decreased.

Wellness Center & Spa AmenitiesIn this ever changing world, retirees should be looking forward to retirement living. The goal should be to recognize that moving into a senior living community is an exciting new chapter in their lives filled with opportunities and friendships. The senior living industry is in a transition from offering only healthcare services to providing seniors with the opportunity to continue a vibrant, active lifestyle all within an environment that supports active aging. Health services are now considered standard in the senior living industry.

Community Movie TheatreThe diversity of amenities and creating a high quality of life, is what sets senior living communities apart. With full service dining rooms, transportation services, built-in movie theatres, internet cafes and coffee shops, game rooms, fitness centers, and libraries, full service resort style living is the new standard. This allows for seniors to live autonomously in a community of their peers. Not only are the amenities all inclusive, but many senior living facilities engage their residents with activities that include trips to local and out of town venues, inviting lecturers to speak, holiday parties, live music performances, dances, tailgating parties to support favorite teams, fitness programs and classes, and resident formed committees to keep their important voices heard in their community.

The facilities themselves are going outside the "norm" and becoming more modern. Senior Living communities are now designed with sustainability in mind because everyone, including seniors, are concerned about living in a way that preserves our resources for future generations. Facilities are designed to be much more energy efficient, utilize daylighting for energy and health reasons, and to be responsible with the materials they are built from.

These communities are in higher demand by the day and the environment must meet this demand in new and interesting ways. This is one of the greatest, but most exciting challenges we all face right now: to attract, sustain, and balance the needs of all involved and make sure that as we all age we have the opportunity to retire in vibrant and sustainable communities. Competitive facilities will need to increasingly provide more dining variety, health and fitness offerings and other perks, like eco-friendly housing to attract this unique group of retirees.

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Mark Seabold is a principal architect with Shive-Hattery Architecture-Engineering. Mark has over 20 years experience working with developers and brokers to revision and retenant existing buildings. By identifying opportunities to reenergize worn-down spaces, Mark concentrates on cost effective, sustainable design for his clients to realize their goals.

Mark Seabold

Licensed Architect