Top 10 Trends in Senior Housing for 2009

Advice and Help : Top 10 Trends in Senior Housing for 2009

With a new avalanche of baby boomers sliding into senior-hood every day, there is great interest in senior housing trends. This article provides you with the BestAssistedLiving list of top 10 senior housing trends for 2009. There are some excellent references provided at the end of the article; in particular we highly recommend an excellent article from Building Design & Construction by Bradford Perkins.

One comment that applies to almost every one of these trends:  The people who are moving into assisted living, nursing homes, or CCRCs today tend to be too old to qualify as baby boomers (although just wait a few years!).   But many of the pressures agitating for change in today’s senior housing market are coming from their baby boomer children. Even when a parent suffers from severe Alzheimer’s or other debilitating illness, their children do not want their parent institutionalized in a degrading or depressing setting. So baby boomer influence is one reason why the market is changing.


1.    Sustainability. Finally there is real momentum, not just talk, in the sustainability movement. A lot of new communities and CCRCs are being built green, even to the point of getting LEEDS certification. Many residents will pay a bit extra to know that they are in an energy-efficient, environmentally responsible facility.

2.    Privacy.  The semi-private room is out, at least at the nicest assisted living facilities.  You never liked sharing your room with your brother, why should have to share with a total stranger with who knows what kind of health or personality problems

3.    Intimate and Family Settings. Similar to the above, giant and monolithic senior facilities will take second place to new ones that promise a smaller, more family-like setting.  Even in giant facilities where economy of scale is  the key to profitability, smaller units /neighborhoods can be carved out of a bigger place to achieve a more livable scale

4.    High Tech is in.  Significant progress is being made in ingenious devices that protect and make life more enjoyable for our seniors (see our recent article – High Tech Devices Keep Elders Safe)  These devices will make it easier for millions more seniors to live safely in their own homes longer.   New tools include electronic monitors for medication, vital signs, eating patterns, interior and exterior cameras, intercoms, weather stations, community announcements and directories, etc.

5.    Better programs. Our elders don’t want to be warehoused, they want to stay as active as possible. New programs will continue to be developed (such as Wii) that keep elders’ bodies and minds active and fulfilled.

6.    College and cultural programs.   The nicest facilities will have built in links with local colleges and universities – or online classes as well. Some classes will be “on-campus”; convenient transportation will take others to local institutions.

7.    Financial Incentives. The assisted living and CCRC market has been put in a bind with the current housing slowdown.  New residents would like to move in, but many don’t have the money until they sell their primary residence. We predict that many facilities will get creative about how to fill this gap with rent-to-own, no or low-fee entry programs, reverse mortgage assistance, time shares, and other programs to increase occupancy rates.

8.    CCRCs and assisted living facilities efforts to target baby boomers will not have much short-term success. The prospect of 76 million “prospects” has every marketer salivating, including those at CCRCs and high end assisted living facilities. In our opinion, however, the only success they will have in the short term is with boomers who see health problems looming. Without significant revamping of recreational opportunities and a more age-diverse population, this initiative will fail. What looks more promising to us is the addition of a CCRC component to an active adult community, or vice versa. That way people can migrate to the appropriate community with minimum disruption and loss of customers.

9.    Incorporating concepts from the hospitality industry. The folks who operate hotels and resorts know a lot about how to fill beds and keep happy customers entertained. The smart operators in the senior industry will emulate these techniques and incorporate this talent into their operations. This will mean an upgrade in amenities and recreational options – look out for 800 count sheets!

10.    Urban or downtown environments will thrive.  Developers who are enchanted with the low cost of land in the boondocks may find tough competition with other firms who invest in downtown facilities where residents can walk or take public transportation to shopping, cultural, and community events.  Some of these facilities will be in cities, others will take advantage of real estate opportunities in or on the edge of small towns

ABLEDATA (assistive technology)
Building + Design Article

High Tech Devices Help Elders Keep Safe
Top 10 Trends for Active Adult Communities - 2009