The first wave of baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) turned 65 in 2011 and make up approximately 76 million people or 23 percent of the population.
Those numbers alone are causing the senior living industry to experience many challenges, and the quality-of-life expectations of this group are far different than the generation that preceded them. Here are our expectations of the baby boomers’ impact on senior living.
Some boomers don’t move to senior communities out of medical necessity. Instead, they choose to downsize and free themselves from managing a home in order to pursue a new, vibrant lifestyle.
Many boomers who are choosing senior living communities are better educated, wealthier, and more accustomed to a high-quality lifestyle than previous generations.
Since they are used to a high-quality lifestyle, boomers want – no, expect – a senior living community to provide many activities, events, and trips. To accommodate these expectations, some communities now provide visiting medical specialists, massage therapists, psychotherapy, gourmet meals, and personal trainers. In fact, some of today’s senior living communities look and seem more like resorts, situated near shopping malls, movie theatres, restaurants and physician offices.
The accessibility to medical and nursing care is still expected, including geriatric care managers who specialize in meeting the needs of seniors. The need for medical support will continue to increase as boomers age, as they are collectively living longer than members of previous generations.
Marketing efforts to this demographic group have undergone a change, often avoiding the words “senior, “elderly” or “aged” in their materials. The emphasis is changing from looking back at what the resident used to do to what they want to do now. As a result, management and staff are providing more personalized programs in their communities. This approach also includes understanding that boomers are more tech-savvy. (A wireless environment has become a necessity, not an option.)
Many boomers see their retirement as the next and best stage of their lives, and not a means to idle away their remaining years. A large percentage stay employed or seek new careers, and some even start businesses. They are a generation that thrives on accomplishments and recognition for their work.
The Other Reality
Nearly half of baby boomers are faced with financial challenges.
Studies show that approximately 40 percent of people a decade away from retirement have accumulated few or no savings. The average boomer will have less than $100,000 in savings upon retirement and will try to make up the difference in Social Security benefits. Many boomers take Social Security at the minimum age of 62, which means they receive a lesser monthly amount, just to make ends meet.
Others are committed to staying employed until they are physically or cognitively unable to continue.
No matter what expectations or challenges the senior care industry will encounter in the future, baby boomers will continue to dramatically alter the type of care provided. To learn how Bethesda is staying on top of the baby boomers’ impact on senior living, check out our blog.