The senior living industry is at the start of a renaissance in both growth and design. This is based on two simple factors: numbers and taste. First, the numbers: Members of the boomer generation were born between 1946 and 1964, and make up 76 million of our current US population. Ignoring the death and immigration rates (immigration far outpaced death), that 76 million number becomes conservative. The boomer generation started to retire, unofficially, on January 1, 2011, at a rate of approximately 11,500 people per day. It is also the wealthiest generation in American history, having earned roughly 3.7 trillion dollars, over twice that of their predecessor generation. In short, more people with more money are starting to retire, and they’re likely to spend it.
Now on to taste: Boomers will eventually face the same medical issues that generations before them faced – and traditional nursing and memory care will continue to be essential for those instances. In the meantime, however, they will demand better living, social, and amenity spaces. They are a more active and social than previous generations, and this has an increasing effect on their expectations. The boomers won’t accept the institutional senior housing projects that their parent’s generation retired to. They are expecting more. Boomers going into senior facilities want multiple dining options, gyms, spas, clubrooms, bars, and pools. Senior living projects now rival hospitality projects in the amenities they offer. These projects stand in stark contrast to the more antiseptic facilities designed a decade ago. Biophilic design principles have gained traction in recent years, primarily because they complement the boomer’s social and active lifestyles. Perkins Eastman wrote an excellent white paper about this if you’d like to read more.
These nascent trends must be considered when designing senior facilities for boomers. Having extensive knowledge in multifamily, hospitality, and traditional senior living designs will greatly assist in shifting senior living into a more modernized experience.
At VP Engineering, we look forward to doing our small part in helping our elders realize the retirements that they so richly deserve.