For years, the retirement industry has focused on the Baby Boomer population and has anticipated the changes they would bring to senior living complexes. Boomers are here, and they are somewhat a surprise to developers and housing providers. Instead of a focus on opulent surroundings and a relaxing ambiance, today’s senior is most likely looking at staying active and engaged.
A study completed in 2005 showed that 29 percent of seniors were interested in web based education. That figure is expected to grow. Seniors want to live in communities that provide state-of-the-art computer systems and support. Active post-retirement adults are technologically savvy and they want services that allow them to get online. They are looking for college courses, wellness classes and recreational activities on the Internet. Communities that woo these consumers will have to provide reliable connectivity and, perhaps, even closed-circuit learning opportunities.
People in their 60s and beyond have experienced a lot of change and want to leave a legacy that matters. In great numbers they espoused ecological responsibility, down to recycling and organic food preparation. That means they want the place they call home to reflect those values.
Another change that retirement communities must make if they are to stay viable is moving from a quiet place to “spend their last years” to a vital place to begin a new life. Seventy-six percent of Boomers intend to work beyond retirement age. Many are looking for second careers. That means senior living complexes must meet needs for transportation, networking, investment education and other resources. Boomers are also more active than any older population segment has ever been. Communities that hope to attract them should have things like biking and hiking paths, gyms, exercise rooms and pools on site or close at hand.
One problem in all of this is that the economy has hit many seniors hard. Retirement funds and investments have ridden a roller coaster since 9-11 and Boomers are wary of lavish spending. In the competitive market of senior living complexes, this translates to the issue of providing the services at a price seniors can afford. Communities that offer discounts and “coupons” may gain an edge.