Senior Living Industry: Factors Expected to Shape It in the Future

February 8, 2019

Image credit: perkinseastman.com

 

Every generation is different from the previous one, if only to some extent. Baby boomers are now joining the ranks of seniors, and as the elderly, they want a different kind of senior living, compared to what we had in the past. What they want is more autonomy, more ways to be part of the community. This determines in which directions the senior living industry is developing. So, what factors are expected to have a great impact on the industry?

The future of senior living as seen by those involved

Both non-for-profit and for-profit organizations and facilities are trying to implement advanced technologies to improve the quality of life of seniors, but the latter are, at least as of this moment, doing it much faster, as a recent Perkins Eastman report suggests. According to it, it is care monitoring, supervision, and smart home technologies that will define the industry in the foreseeable future. To a lesser extent, other factors will come into play.

These include voice activated support (like the solutions being developed by Google and Amazon, for instance) and telemedicine.

Modification of existing homes is the primary field in which the most significant advances are expected.

Accessory dwelling units that are designed to promote aging in the community are also regarded as one of the most important drivers of the upcoming changes in the industry. In fact, everything aimed at improving the quality of life of those who live in the community is what many organizations operating in the industry are going to focus on. These include satellite facilities that can deliver particular services to seniors living in the community.

Surprisingly, robotics and driverless car are not seen as something capable of changing the industry dramatically.

It is also true of devices that provide virtual experience. As to the aging-in-the-community aspect, affinity-matched shared housing and community-level initiatives are regarded as least impactful.

As far as the Third Act aspect is concerned, respondents believe that the industry will be predominantly revolving around the technologies and services that promote senior autonomy and help adopt a proactive approach. Among these are grocery delivery services, at-home health monitoring systems, etc. Another important way of improving senior living is giving seniors more opportunities to feel that they are useful. Volunteering and other ways of participating in social activities are the fields where it can be achieved.

Some respondents believe that more seniors will prefer to remain part of the workforce even if given an opportunity to retire, so that they can keep on working as consultants or become entrepreneurs. As other factors that may have an impact on the industry, they see the elderly’s interest in interaction with other generations and sharing housing with them. The somewhat naïve factor of life expectancy beyond 150 years is considered to be a serious, impactful factor by around 40% of respondents. The factor deemed as least impactful is moving to retire in other countries (anywhere outside the US).

What are the negative factors?

The report outlines the expected changes in the senior living industry, which are likely to make it much more diverse.

But there are also factors capable of preventing seniors from using all these advanced technologies and services and hindering industry development. As the overwhelming majority of respondents (around 89%) claim, it is the financial strain that is going to be most impactful. Given rising healthcare costs, lack of trust in the social security system, and the tendency to focus on retirement investment instead of pensions, the senior living industry may be affected by these factors significantly.

Other disruptors seen as most important are

  • living wage provision with a smaller workforce available,
  • convergence with the healthcare sector,
  • and immigration restrictions resulting in problems with staff recruitment.

Changes in typical weather patterns and shifts in retirement preferences (i.e. retiring in places other than the traditional regions, such as California) are considered to be least impactful.

As seen from the overview above, it is technologies and services that can help seniors be more autonomous while continuing to be useful and thus feeling better that are seen as the drivers of the senior living industry. Conversely, financial constraints and lack of stability in state-level programs are regarded as the most significant negative factors.


 

Full Perkins Eastman report text can be downloaded here.

 

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