For years, the senior living industry has prepared for the Boomer generation. Investors and executives worked together to build communities that they thought Boomers would love. But as Boomers have started to age, many new senior communities sit empty. Where is the elusive Boomer, and why are they not moving into senior care communities that were so carefully crafted for them?
Research reveals that senior living executives and investors may have overestimated Boomers’ desire to move into senior communities. Instead, Boomers are working full-time for longer and even choosing to work part-time after retirement. They choose to stay at home for as long as possible, forgoing active adult communities that boast senior yoga and computer classes in a clubhouse setting. So how must senior living change in order to attract Boomers and beyond?
1. Intergenerational opportunities
Boomers are staying in their homes and neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, one of which is the access to a variety of people. Senior communities offer neighbors who are in the same age demographic or older. Boomers prefer variety. While some trailblazing senior communities have kindergarten or preschool programs on site that residents participate in, not nearly enough senior communities offer an opportunity to socialize with others under the age of 65.
2. Social networking
With seniors well versed in social media and online networking, senior care communities must stop the stereotypical thinking that seniors are computer illiterate. Instead, senior care communities should have high speed WiFi access and a network that is able to handle residents utilizing personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.
3. Focus on preventative care
Boomers have watched their parents navigate retirement and aging health issues. One thing is certain: Boomers want to age healthier and happier than the generations before them. Senior living executives would be wise to highlight how technology within the senior care community can assist Boomers on this pursuit of healthy aging. Focusing on preventative care measures can give a new generation of residents more control over their health, environment, and aging journey.
4. Multiple residences
Boomers are expressing a growing desire to invest in dual residences, spending time in two distinct places. While “snowbirding” or retreating to warmer climates during the winter season is not a new approach to retirement, Boomers are making it more of the norm than a luxury. Senior care executives can entice snowbirding Boomers to commit to their senior care community by offering amenities such as lower rent during winter months or offering a change in venue for a few months per year by partnering with senior care communities in warmer climates.
5. Physical wellness
Boomers are serious about physical fitness, already rocking the gym industry by showing up with their sneakers, and with their wallets. Senior living communities that offer more than just a daily senior stretching class have a better chance of attracting Boomers. When considering a physical fitness program, senior living executives should consult the help of a registered dietician and a fitness trainer when molding a program that will offer multiple classes and physical fitness opportunities each day.
6. Career and education
Boomers are not retiring quietly. Many will either work part-time after retiring or will find an entirely different career to pursue after the age of 65. Senior care communities that have fostered a relationship with local colleges can offer educational opportunities to better equip these Boomers as they re-enter the workforce.
Where are Boomers? They are out there, waiting for the senior living industry to catch up with what they really want. How will your community market to this important, but ever elusive, demographic?