I’ve been thinking a lot about senior living design lately. There are two main reasons for that.
One, my parents reside in a senior living community in Central Illinois. My 84-year-old mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and my father is her caregiver.
They still live in independent living. Which is not really how the continuing care model is supposed to work.
Is Independent Living the New Assisted Living?
But as I looked around the independent living dining room last weekend when I was visiting my parents, there were several people with walkers, oxygen tanks, or in wheelchairs. People who clearly needed help with activities of daily living — including my mother. And I’d guess the average age of the residents in the room was over 80.
What is happening here? Well, for one, people are living longer. We all know that.
Many are also choosing to live independently for as long as they can. There’s still a stigma around assisted living. And forget skilled nursing. That’s where you go to die.
Attracting Younger Seniors
Okay, but what about us Boomers in our 60s and 70s who may be looking to move out of our big houses? No matter how elegant it is, are we going to want to go to live in a place with a bunch of 80- and 90-year-olds in wheelchairs and on oxygen?
The answer is no. Unless we become those 80- and 90-year-olds in wheelchairs and on oxygen. (Which will eventually happen — even to us Boomers.)
So how to attract the younger seniors? My mom and dad’s upscale community has many vacant independent living apartments — more than I’ve seen in the five years they have been living there.
I’m sure many senior living owners and operators are worried about this. Which brings me to my second reason for thinking a lot about senior living design lately — The Clean Slate Project.
The Clean Slate Project
We’ve all been talking about the impact of Boomers on senior living for about 10 years now but has anything changed? That’s one of the reasons Perkins Eastman, with support from J+J Flooring Group, began a year-long effort to explore the senior living market through fresh eyes.
A team of Perkins Eastman principals and researchers began the work earlier this year by talking to experts outside of senior living to “understand the drivers of change that may come from the convergence of senior living and other industries.”
From this work, they identified these four potential “macro-shocks” to senior living:
- Tech-Age: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality
- Aging in Community: decentralized care and services
- Third Act: replaces traditional retirement
- Paradigm Shifts: climatic, financial, political changes
Watch this video to learn more about these macro-shocks:
These macro-shocks are the thematic categories that are guiding the second phase of the team’s work. The project is expected to finish by the end of 2018.
I’m really proud and honored that J+J engaged me to be part of the marketing team to come up with strategies to share the findings of this work with the world. Look for more to come!
And, if you’re attending the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO next week in Philadelphia, please visit Perkins Eastman’s booth #1314 to share your thoughts on these four macro-shocks.
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