Baby Boomers won’t start hitting 80 — the average age of a senior living resident — until 2026, but that doesn’t mean it is too early to start thinking about their needs.
Right now Boomers already play a big role in supporting resident retention, as they help their parents make critical housing decisions. As a result, understanding what Boomers may want tomorrow is a key to driving resident retention today.
Baby Boomers are already very much in the game. They are the “adult children,” the decision makers who play a vital role in choosing housing for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. That participation doesn’t stop once the contract has been signed. Boomers stay engaged in the lives of their aging parents, and if things are not to their liking, they will let you know. Retention hangs on the Boomers’ satisfaction.
Baby Boomers aren’t just going to wait around for something to go wrong. In fact, by the time a medical issue does arise, they may already be seeking alternative accommodations. That means the savvy operator has to be thinking about preventative care. Bedsores can be managed with the help of automatic monitoring. Signs of many common illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness and UTI’s, can now be passively detected by emerging technologies, alerting care providers for early intervention to prevent negative health events. Boomers will expect to see a high level of proactive, preventative care.
A high level of communication.
Baby Boomers have grown accustomed to communications that are on anywhere, anytime. It’s how they work, and how they conduct their personal lives. They will expect to have that same capability when it comes to keeping tabs on their elderly parents. They’ll expect a senior residence to deliver a solid communications infrastructure, including technology that makes it easier for mom to make contact not just via phone but also by social media, text, and video communications just to name a few. If they aren’t satisfied with their ability to stay connected and engaged, resident retention may be in jeopardy.
Communication is only the tip of the technology iceberg for Baby Boomers. They have moved for years in a sphere dominated by devices, driven by software, and they will expect a senior housing operator to deliver the same for their aging parents. This may mean health equipment that tracks vital signs; constant monitoring via sophisticated sensors and intelligent software; systems that continuously watch for the possibility of a fall and set off automated alarms. These are just a few of the latest technologies to be found in senior housing. Operators who don’t meet the bar may find themselves with an uncomfortable rate of turnover.
In the near future, senior housing will need to concern itself with retaining Baby Boomers themselves. That means today’s trend is a dry run of sorts. Learning how to please Baby Boomers helps to retain today’s residents (the parents of Boomers) with the added bonus of helping senior housing operators understand what it will take to keep the Boomers happy, once that generation is ready to move in.