Life is sweet at home

Boomers boost growth of boutique senior living

Life-long Learning Communities attract some. ccd.edu

Life-long Learning Communities attract some. ccd.edu

As a card-carrying boomer and a home care expert, I am excited about the variety of senior housing or “senior living” options evolving to meet this demographic’s diverse needs.

Lest we forget – boomers are not to be trifled with. We will continue to affect the future of most every sort of product in this country and around the globe.  After all, we are the generation that introduced marathon and triathalon events to the masses!

What are the latest trends in assisted living?

Here, I take a look at an article reporting on the latest changes in the industry. One thing is for sure, the ever-expanding menu of extras available to more senior and boomer residents would blow my grandmother’s mind!

According to  Shelly K. Schwartz in bankrate.com, the senior housing market is busy reinventing itself to meet the needs of the 50 and older generations. These days we will see living options that are designed to meet not only accommodate different activity levels but philosophical standpoints.

For example, former academics and scientists may be attracted to a facility with aggressive, on-site learning options. Or as part of the great majority of boomers and older who want to live at home, many may see the benefit of participating in a village cooperative.

1) Boutique senior living

Ethnic communities are growing in popularity. Silverthreads.ca

Ethnic communities are growing in popularity. Silverthreads.ca

These days, Schwartz writes, a number of properties cater to a select subset of residents, much like boutique hotels.

“We’ve reached the stage of evolution where rather than all these assisted living facilities looking alike, recognizing that there’s a very large population of seniors out there so we can divide into specialty housing,” says Carle.

For example, some new communities are targeted toward Asian seniors. Others are designed to attract the gay and lesbian population and even nudists.

2) Lifelong-learning communities

A number of communities are also partnering with local colleges or universities to offer more lifelong learning opportunities. One such community, Lasall Village in Newton, Mass., requires residents to commit to spending 450 hours a year taking college courses and engaging in fitness programs at a small liberal arts college nearby.

3) Eco-friendly communities

Communities interested in living an eco-friendly lifestyle attract retired boomers and seniors who want to live their ethical values of what it is to be green. These communities pay particular interest in using eco-friendly construction, products and appliances as well as reducing carbon emissions.

4) Village concept

The Village concept appeals to many people of all ages. Opportunityvillageeugene.org

The Village concept appeals to many people of all ages. Opportunityvillageeugene.org

Although assisted living communities are becoming more diverse, most seniors would prefer to age in place, notes Nancy Thompson, AARP spokeswoman.

A new model of assisted living, called Villages, is helping seniors remain in their own homes as they age, while still offering the support services they need, including personal care, help with yardwork, trips to the grocery store and social outlets.

Such villages, which are typically run by neighborhood volunteers, are funded by annual membership dues and are open to seniors within a specific community. To date there are about 145 such villages around the country and more than 100 more under development.

How do you see assisted living evolving?