Apr 7 2023

4 major trends shaping senior living

Major trends shaping senior living include changes in technology, which many seniors have embraced. In this photo, seniors gather for a selfie.

Part of choosing sound retirement options is understanding the forces shaping senior living. The industry is undergoing profound changes, from healthcare methods to business structure, and those shifts will likely affect you and your loved ones.  

Here are four important trends to keep an eye on. 

1) Growth, and more growth

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the proportion of seniors in the population is growing at an unprecedented clip. Census data analysis by investment and consulting firm Ziegler shows that over the next decade, we’ll see almost 12 million adults join the ranks of those ages 75 and older, double the rate of the past decade. 

That’s both a challenge and an opportunity for senior living communities. The demand for services is only going to go up in the coming decades. That reduces your options as you search for the right fit. 

You also want to make sure you can count on the community you pick to remain stable and financially strong. Part of your analysis should include looking at how the community is preparing for the future. Look to see whether they are prioritizing more housing and more capacity for care so they can thrive in the years to come.

2) A desire for more flexibility and options

The care communities offer will likely not look exactly the same as it did for previous generations, so do some research to see if they offer the kind of options you prefer. 

Increasingly, senior living communities are responding to changing expectations and preferences. Of that wave of new seniors we talked about, many of them want a more vibrant, open campus and more options in daily life.

Residents at White Horse Village in Pennsylvania enjoy birdwatching.

Retirement years can be a time to launch a new chapter and interact with the broader community. That might mean looking for a community that offers spaces for coffee shops, event spaces, and restaurant venues on site that are open to the general public; programs that bring in speakers or schoolchildren; and other interactions. 

The desire for more choices extends to other areas of senior living as well. In the past, communities might have offered set meal times and menus, where now seniors expect more dining flexibility. 
Improving technology also helps expand options. For example, many older adults want to remain in independent housing as long as possible. Assistance like telehealth, mobility, or fall prevention technology can help make this possible. 

3) Adapting to higher costs

It’s not just the labor market driving higher costs for organizations. Inflation and supply chain issues have taken a toll on everything from supplies to construction and energy costs.

Overall, the industry is holding up fairly well under these pressures, but organizations have had to make careful decisions about expansion projects and where they are allocating their resources, even as they prepare for an increase in seniors in the coming decades. 

It’s requiring creative new approaches, like building collaborative partnerships among senior communities or with outside organizations. It’s also driving organizations to continue to prioritize growth and expansion, knowing that despite construction costs, this is a good way to both meet demand and stay financially strong in the long run. 

An organization that takes these steps can in turn keep prices lower for you.

Trends shaping senior living include an increased focus on environmental responsibility. Here, two workers install a solar panel.

4) A rise in social consciousness

The good news if you’re concerned about the environment and social issues is that senior living communities are increasing their focus on these areas too

Older adults are looking for communities that invest in a transparent and socially conscious way. Senior living communities are also taking steps like adding environmentally-friendly energy sources or electric car charging stations, working to make homes and buildings more energy efficient, and building farm-to-table partnerships to support local agriculture while adding delicious food to the menu.

The more you know about industry trends like these, the better you’ll be able to evaluate your choices. Here are more resources if you’d like to read further: