Older adults who anticipate moving to a senior living community can look forward to maintaining their independence through "smart home" technology and wireless connectivity, according to a survey of senior living trends.
The survey provides insight into how future generations will be served in senior living communities, including expanded home health care, wellness programs, and "green" designs.
"The survey results tell us that it will not be business as usual for senior living communities in the years ahead," said Linda Hollinger-Smith, Vice President, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. "It's clear that with the projected decline in the 75 to 84 age population over the next decade, senior living organizations will need to identify their 'niche' to attract this generation prior to the arrival of the Baby Boomers."
"The results of this survey are significant because there are few published studies that examine trends in programs, amenities, and environments among aging services providers," said Mary Leary, President and CEO, Mather LifeWays.
Survey respondents identified the top emerging trends, including:
Maintaining Resident Independence
- Incorporating "smart home" technology and wireless connectivity into senior living residences.
- Bringing home health care, tele-health technology, geriatric assessment services, and non-medical home care services into senior living communities to promote quality of life as one "ages in place." (For example, as buildings become more and more accessible, seniors who use walkers and lightweight wheelchairs now have the tools to live independently. And choosing a walker is now easier, too.)
Expansion of Programs/Services Outside of Senior Living Communities
- Providing home health and adult day care services.
- Delivering services to older adults in their homes through programs such as the "Beacon Hill" model.
Wellness and Lifelong Learning for Senior Living Residents
- Integrating and expanding wellness programs into senior living design including wellness/healing gardens, health spas, therapy pools, putting greens, and indoor aquatic centers.
- Providing web-based education and lifelong learning programs for residents.
Environmentally Aware Senior Living Communities
- Obtaining LEED certification to demonstrate new construction and renovations are achieving "green" standards.
- Building "small house" models for residents in long-term care settings: Small houses are self-contained buildings for small numbers of residents, organized in a way to maximize normal living environments and routines, resident autonomy, sense of community, and quality of life.
Results of the survey demonstrate that senior living organizations are addressing and planning to meet the needs and interests of their current and future residents. Overall, senior living communities with 300 or more units appear to be leading the way in terms of current and future planning in many areas of programs, services, amenities, and environmental issues compared to smaller senior living communities.
Senior living providers indicate they will continue to expand partnerships in order to meet and exceed expectations of the next generation of older adults. Potential partnerships include other Continuing Care Retirement Communities, colleges/universities, for-profit ventures, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, active adult communities, and state and local government agencies.