6 fundamentals of senior living that show no signs of changing
COVID-19 has shifted many things, but these remain the same
Most industries, including senior housing, have experienced disruption and change during the COVID-19 global pandemic. From hospitality and leisure travel to production and distribution to health care, we’ve seen massive shifts in the global landscape. Consequently, for some industries, things may never be what they once were. Realistically, there were aspects of senior living that were already evolving before the pandemic — and most of those trends are still progressing. But several aspects of senior housing remain unchanged even during this public health storm and as the pandemic abates.
Senior housing holds steady in six ways
Here’s a look at six aspects of senior housing that remain steadfast and show no signs of changing. Some may present challenges for industry insiders, while others offer us an opportunity.
The image of senior housing
Senior living can have a bit of an image problem. Senior housing is generally not what seniors put high on their list; rather they think of it as a last resort. That presents a challenge to those who wish to build the future of senior living: designing solutions that become an attractive, desirable, aspirational step for seniors. Visionaries of the industry will look toward innovating to overcome this challenge.
Independence is still the ideal
Senior living can be viewed as a stage of life that includes losing independence, and most adults want to avoid that. Yet living independently isn’t always perfect either, as it can lead to isolation, loneliness and mental health challenges, not to mention physical health challenges that one may or may not be able to manage alone.
For those innovating the future of senior living, consideration should be given to fostering continued independence wherever possible. This might include a sense of privacy in the living space, a dedicated gathering space for families, a kitchen and laundry space in each unit, and other features that enable people to be and feel independent.
Affordability is a driving factor
Seniors will continue to balance their health care needs with affordability, suggesting interest in congregate care may continue to grow in the future. Numerous factors feed into the choices seniors make when it comes to their care, and the economic realities for this demographic may present some real challenges. Nevertheless, congregate care represents an option that can be affordable to a broad base of seniors now and into the future.
Demographics drive facility design
As a design-build firm, we know firsthand how demographics in the senior living community drive design. As baby boomers age and enter senior living, we’ll see design change to reflect this unique demographic’s needs and preferences. As boomers are entering senior housing later in life than their predecessors, their health care issues will likely be more acute, and facilities will need to reflect that. Finally, affordability will continue to be a consideration, so ensuring quality of life goes hand in hand with cost controls.
Technology leads the way
Technology has opened doors for baby boomers, and they’re likely to continue to demand access to tech that makes their lives more connected and easier. In addition, senior living staff will continue to lean on technology to achieve efficiencies and improve effectiveness. So while we may not have a crystal ball that shows us future technologies, we do know that tech innovations will continue to meet the needs of the industry and those you care for.
Listening to target demographics remains essential
Seniors have choices when it comes to where and how to age. Senior living facilities that monitor consumer trends for this target market will be able to respond to client preferences in a way that positions them competitively. Being mindful of the perceptions of senior living and creating spaces that enable independence and privacy can put facilities at the top of the list when it’s decision time.
The future of senior living
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant disruptor in our world and in the senior living industry. But industry leaders have grown, learned and changed to ensure the safety and health of residents. Moving forward, the future of senior living will continue to present challenges and opportunities, as it always has. Having the right partner on your side for your next development or remodel is essential to taking advantage of these opportunities. At DBS Group, we’re here to help you make the most of this moment by designing and building the future of senior living.