Today’s Senior Independent Living Communities Aren’t Like They Used to Be
As senior living communities continue to evolve, one thing is clear: today’s mature adults want to remain active and engaged.
Today’s seniors represent an immense and influential demographic that’s growing every day. The number of U.S. households that include at least one member over age 80 has nearly doubled since 1990, according to Harvard’s “Housing America’s Older Adults” report. And as massive numbers of baby boomers age, that number is projected to more than double again by 2037. Senior living communities have been bracing for the onslaught of the baby boomer generation for years. A new dynamic that’s adding a twist to these housing plans are recent significant increases in younger resident populations. The growing proportion of these “young senior” residents has triggered a skyrocketing demand for more flexible, versatile, and customizable offerings from America’s senior independent living facilities.
Say goodbye to short-sighted, cookie cutter senior communities.
Until recently, U.S. senior housing solutions have largely consisted of indistinguishable developments demanding costly upfront deposits from residents. If and when a higher level of care was eventually needed, residents faced new stressors by having to locate and move to expensive skilled nursing facilities. According to Senior Housing News, the recent onslaught of mature Americans is driving all types of innovation and responsive solutions in the industry. Not only are new technologies and advancements being brought into senior living communities, the facilities are also designed to nurture integration, provide opportunities for personalization, and enhance overall quality of life. This marks a distinct move away from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past that was the hallmark of institutional senior care and living.
There’s no place like home.
While the transition to a senior living community can leave new residents feeling lonely and out of place, making the accommodations feel homier is critical to helping them adjust more quickly to their new surroundings. Across senior living facilities of all types and sizes, forward-thinking efforts are being made by designers, administrators and caregivers to help new residents feel part of the community sooner. The Green House Project, based on supporting small, house-style senior living projects, is one such innovative program. Facilities that are part of the Green House Project typically have eight to ten bedrooms with a shared dining and living area. The communal nature of the shared space fosters interaction, and residents are still afforded plenty of privacy in their own bedrooms. Many senior citizens find this type of living arrangement more desirable than larger facilities that can have a clinical, institutional feel. But larger communities can be made to feel homey, as well. Today, many larger senior living developments look, feel and operate much like apartment complexes. The apartment layouts vary and can be painted, decorated, and fashioned to fit each resident’s tastes. The ability to make the space feel like home is a central element in supporting and enhancing seniors’ mental and physical health.
Recognize the importance of having choices.
Without options to consider, residents can lose their sense of control and autonomy. When a senior living facility makes plenty of choices available for residents, they tend to feel more empowered and independent. Another important factor to consider is that many of today’s seniors are not forced to move into these communities but are choosing to make the move on their own. That means they’re conducing their own research and checking out different communities so they can select the one that’s the best fit. For facilities that want to be in demand in the new senior housing landscape, offering plenty of individual choices and freedoms is the way to go. How residents dress, what they eat, and how much time they spend in activities or interaction with others should be largely up to them.
Keeping people busy can help them feel younger.
One of the biggest and most positive trends in today’s senior living communities is the focus on staying active. Activity generally improves mental and physical health, so keeping residents thinking and moving is important. People are also living longer and doing more at advanced ages than ever before, and smart senior living communities are recognizing this trend. Keeping residents busy is an excellent way to maintain their health and encourage them to make friends at the facility, boosting the sense of community. From artistic endeavors like painting classes, to group games and day trips, today’s thriving senior housing offers something for everyone. While it’s not possible to turn back the clock, it is possible to help mature adults remain active and involved as they age.
A focus on wellness is keeping people healthier longer.
Another prominent trend in today’s senior facilities is the inclusion of wellness programs. With so many different aspects of health and wellness to be considered, there’s bound to be something for everyone. These multi-dimensional programs can include exercise opportunities, healthy meals, education, spirituality, and more. Massage therapy, for example, is one of the options found in many senior citizen communities today. Getting a massage can increase blood flow, relieve aches and pains, aid relaxation, and foster a sense of wellbeing. While these wellness programs are intended to encourage seniors to take better care of themselves, they can also provide a sense of purpose, an important factor in healthy aging.
Creating opportunities for education is important.
A key to staying active as a senior is keeping the mind sharp. One of the best ways to do that is through continuing education. Whether they’re taking a class for college credit or learning how to perform a new skill, many seniors still want to try new things. Care facilities that provide educational programs onsite or allow residents to attend classes nearby offer people new opportunities for learning and self-expression. These educational choices can include anything from traditional courses to more abstract opportunities. Painting, drawing, writing, and other creative puruits are now offered at many senior facilities. Some communities even strive to offer a broad range of learning options to that everyone can participate in something he or she enjoys.
From larger, more attractive apartments to plentiful new learning opportunities, today’s senior living facilities are evolving at a rapid pace. Recognizing that residents want to preserve their dignity, independence, and wellbeing for as long as possible, senior communities are responding by transforming their business models and their facilities. With dynamic service offerings in place, seniors can continue to enjoy all that life has to offer in their golden years.
Do you need additional resources or information about today’s senior living options? To speak with one of our caring staff members, please contact us. It’s always our pleasure to be of assistance.
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