Assisted Living Trends
The number of assisted living residents and facilities is only set to grow along with the senior population. As more and more boomers reach the point where they need the level of care assisted living provides, their preferences and desires are starting to re-shape traditional ideas of what assisted living can look like.
Here are eleven trends likely to change how assisted living works in the years to come.
- Specialty Assisted Living Homes
Throughout our lives, people tend to seek out other people with similar interests and values. Why should that change when the time comes to move into assisted living?
Seniors increasingly have the option to choose specialty assisted living homes that bring together people with common interests, like a home for senior creatives, faith-based assisted living homes, and facilities for LGBTQ seniors.
As long as there’s an interest in these specialty homes, we can expect them to grow in number and variety. Seniors will increasingly be able to find an assisted living home for whatever passion or interest they hold dear.
- Technology Use for Greater Independence
Many seniors avoid assisted living for as long as possible because they feel it reduces the amount of independence they have. A growing number of technology options can help seniors keep more of their independence while also getting the assisted living help they need.
Seniors can find websites devoted to hiring people for many of the services they don’t want or aren’t able to do themselves. From Instacart for grocery shopping to Lyft for driving to Amazon Home Services, which can help you hire people for a number of types of work like computer and yard help, many of the meddlesome chores you’ve had to deal with all your life can now be outsourced.
Tech companies are also making wearables for seniors that can help you track your health, medication dispensers that can help you stay on top of what pills to take when, and tablets and phones designed with the needs of seniors in mind.
Any senior that’s been hesitant to embrace technology may well change their tune once they realize how much technology can help them maintain their independence as they age, even when they reach the point where they need more help with day-to-day tasks of living.
Alzheimer’s is on the rise and it presents a serious concern for millions of seniors and their families. More than one in three seniors will have dementia by the time they die. Providing care for dementia patients is both absolutely crucial and extremely difficult.
One solution that a community in the Netherlands originated is starting to gain steam. Hogewey is set up like any small community, except that all of its residents are either dementia patients or staff hired to help care for them.
The town has a grocery store, gardens, a theater – all of the things that enable the residents to feel like they’re living a normal life – while also having the trained staff required to make sure dementia patients can receive the care they need.
While not too many other communities have followed suit so far, the success of Hogewey and the interest the worldwide community has shown makes it very likely that many more dementia patients will have this option in the near future.
In neighborhoods that have a large number of seniors that prefer to stay in their homes rather than move into a facility, stay-at-home retirement villages are growing in popularity. Inspired by the Beacon Hill model, these communities band together to more easily afford and institute the services they need in order to stay in their own homes.
By working with other seniors in the community, it’s possible to create a sort of unofficial assisted living community within your own neighborhood.
- Smaller, More Personal Assisted Living Communities
The Green House Project focuses on building assisted living homes that only have a few residents and, as such, are able to develop a more personal, family-like atmosphere.
Part of what makes seniors hesitant to want to move to assisted living or a nursing home is the idea that they’ll feel too institutional and impersonal, smaller homes like those built by the Green House Project address that concern by offering an alternative that’s carefully designed to feel similar to our traditional idea of “home.”
- Seniors Continuing to Work While in Assisted Living
A growing number of people over 65 are continuing to work. As technology makes it easier to work from wherever you are, many seniors are continuing their jobs in some capacity for years longer or embarking on new professional paths in order to keep the paychecks coming long past retirement age.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program offers training to help seniors learn the skills to continue working in a tech-heavy employment landscape. And sites like Flex Jobs make it easier for retirees to find opportunities that work with the schedule and lifestyle that makes the most sense for them.
- Eco-Friendly Senior Living
While eco-friendly senior living facilities are still far from making up the majority of options, they are becoming more common. Many new assisted living facilities being built are working to stay compliant with the government’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.
As of 2015, the New York Times found that interest in green assisted living communities outpaced the supply. Any assisted living developers paying attention should be quick to pick up on this trend, meaning that we can likely count on more green senior living options in the years to come.
- University-Linked Assisted Living
Have you ever wished you had more time to give to learning – science, literature, philosophy, art – just, all of it. Many seniors choose to devote their retirement years to going back to school. And many colleges are working to make that possible by providing senior living facilities on campus.
Lassel Village College has assisted living facilities on campus for seniors that want to spend as much of their remaining time as possible living the life of students. A number of other schools, including Duke and Dartmouth have also added senior housing to their campuses, although many haven’t taken the step of providing assisted living services yet. As senior interest grows in these programs though, they’ll likely grow in frequency and offer more of the services seniors need to take advantage of them.
- Assisted Living at Sea
Maybe you’ve encountered an email that’s been making the rounds for a few years all about the benefits of retiring to a cruise ship. While there have been a few high-profile cases of retirees moving onto cruise ships, it hasn’t been an especially practical plan for most – not yet, anyway.
Due to the level of interest many seniors have in the idea of living out the rest of their senior years on a cruise ship, businesses like River Cities Condos are hoping to launch boats that provide the joys of an ongoing cruise with the practicalities seniors need as they age. If they’re successful, other businesses are likely to follow suit.
- Pet-friendly Assisted Living
Pets offer so many benefits to seniors. Those that have a pet they love would be hard pressed to give it up when moving to a senior living facility. Luckily, many assisted living facilities now accept pets.
Around the country, seniors can find pet-friendly assisted living options that will allow them to bring their furry best friend along. Some even offer programs for bringing dogs in to bring a little joy to dementia patients.
- Growth in Aging in Place
Finally, one of the biggest trends in assisted living is how many seniors are looking for options that allow them to get the care they need without moving into an assisted living facility. Almost 90% of seniors over the age of 65 have said they hope to stay in their home for as long as possible.
With the help of concierge services, useful technologies, and banding together with other seniors – many seniors are finding the option to be more feasible than ever. The right home modifications can ensure a senior’s home is safe to continue living in, and in-home healthcare can provide them with any care they need that family members can’t provide.
All of these trends point toward a greater variety in options for seniors moving forward. Assisted living may not be a stage in life seniors look forward to, but more that at any point in history, it’s one that they’re able to enjoy and make their own.