There is no doubt. The elderly population is growing, and so are senior living options. By 2030, the youngest baby boomers will begin retiring. That means 20% of the population will be of retirement age. As a result, the U.S. will need more than 3 million senior housing units by 2040. Two million still need to be constructed to meet demand.
According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, the typical age of a resident in senior housing is 84. By 2030, the oldest baby boomer will be 84. But, the youngest won’t reach 84 until 2048.
Undoubtedly, the need for care and housing options for seniors will be around for decades. However, levels of care and housing vary. So, let’s look at the different levels of care in the senior living industry.
First, let’s start with an overview of senior housing. Gone are the days of sterile, institutional “old folks’ homes.” These felt more like hospitals than a comfortable and safe home to spend one’s retirement years. Certainly, the boomer generation wants and expects more care options and amenities in their golden years than past generations.
Therefore, this article addresses:
As the U.S. population has aged, the senior housing market has adapted. Any facility that meets the needs of an aging population falls under the umbrella of senior housing. There are varying levels of care for people 65 and older. These range from independent living for seniors in good health with an active lifestyle to 24-hour care for people with health issues. And, there are other options in between.
Modern senior living communities focus on:
- Safety from falls and assistance transferring from a bed or chair
- Accessibility for those with limited physical capacity
- Adaptability to meet the changing needs of each resident
- Longevity and wellness
- Opportunities for socializing and recreational activities
The changing landscape of senior living can be confusing. There are many definitions, some interchangeable. We’ll take a look at five main categories, each with increasing levels of care.
So to clarify, let’s dive into the care categories that investors and developers must consider.
First, independent living communities are sometimes referred to as retirement communities. Certainly, they offer the most self-sufficient lifestyle of all senior housing options. In addition, they have age restrictions, usually requiring residents to be 55 or older. Because seniors desire independence, some communities provide apartments or condos. In contrast, others offer free-standing housing.
In short, independent living is perfect for seniors who are completely capable of taking care of themselves. For example, they are active and productive but are looking for a low-stress lifestyle.
Of course, there is often home and yard maintenance, housekeeping, and communal meals may be available. However, there is no offer of medical and custodial care. One of the most significant benefits of this type of senior housing is the opportunity for socializing.
As seniors age and move out of the workforce, there is no daily structure for interacting with co-workers. As a result, it’s easy to become isolated and lose a sense of purpose.
Isolation can put the health of the elderly at risk of dementia, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, mental decline, and heart disease. In addition, there is the risk of anxiety and depression. Consequently, independent living communities combat these risks by offering residents a rich social life with others their age.
Staying active and involved in their community is important to residents in independent living facilities. It’s an excellent opportunity to try new hobbies. In addition, there are recreational and planned activities, including:
- Wellness and fitness programs
- Art classes
- Book clubs
- Field trips
- Continuing education classes
These communities are a good option for seniors wanting to downsize and maintain an active life.
Site selection for independent living communities is critical. And, today’s seniors have high expectations. They want high-end finishes, a convenient location, and a resort-like atmosphere.
As with independent living, assisted living facility residents live in either an apartment or a room. Common areas exist for social and recreational activities. In addition, some suites have mini kitchens.
Unlike independent living, assisted living residents to get help with personal care. Here are examples of the support available:
- Giving medication
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Bathing and grooming
- Transferring from bed or chair
- Incontinence care
- Transportation services
- Three meals a day
- Shopping trips
- 24-hour supervision
- On-site staff
Just as in independent living communities, there are social and wellness benefits for residents of assisted living. Of course, safe design is a consideration in any quality assisted living community. As a result, the list includes handrails and grab bars, adequate space in bathrooms, and proper lighting.
While skilled nursing is not provided in most assisted living communities, some health management is provided to prevent falls and manage weight. Undoubtedly, help is always close by in case of an emergency.
Developing assisted living communities that embrace limited independence while providing healthcare benefits are an important part of the design. Additionally, it’s important to provide communities that serve both the resident and their visiting family. It’s a fine balance for most developers. Ask us about our market selection process for modern assisted living communities.
Memory care is a growing segment of the senior living sector. As a matter of fact, Alzheimer’s affects more than six million Americans. Unfortunately, that number will more than double by 2050.
Unfortunately, caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be a crushing responsibility. For example, caregivers may not have the skills needed or homes equipped to deal with someone in mental decline.
Memory care units can exist within assisted living communities, nursing homes, or stand-alone facilities. Their design discourages wandering, a common problem among dementia patients. There are door alarms, enclosed courtyards, and tracking bracelets. The aim is to reduce confusion and create a sense of calm and safety.
Specially trained staff deal with the challenges of cognitive decline. They use an array of techniques to improve quality of life:
- Medication for depression, insomnia, and memory
- Using all five senses to help with memories of the past
- Cognitive stimulation group therapy using music, word games, or current events
- Reality orientation training frequently pointing out dates, locations, and everyday surroundings, to help the patient engage in their surroundings
There is a lower staff-to-resident ratio in a memory care community than in other types of senior living communities. And there is coordinated care among other health care providers.
Investing in and developing memory care communities is an important part of helping seniors age with dignity. Memory Care protocols and community design standards have come a long way to meet residents with cognitive issues in a way that meets them where they are.
These are meaningful communities that serve residents and families with a distinct purpose.
Now let’s look at skilled nursing facilities. These facilities offer a wide range of services, personal care, and medical care. For example, skilled nursing facilities offer much more specialized medical support for residents than an assisted living community. This senior housing option includes many of the same offerings as assisted living. However, the services are geared toward seniors who need round-the-clock care because of severe illness or injury. Nursing care and supervision are always available. Additionally, they provide three healthy meals each day and assistance with everyday activities such as bathing and dressing.
In addition, there are rehabilitation therapies offered in skilled nursing facilities. These include services such as:
- Physical therapy to help avoid falls and injuries and manage arthritis, osteoporosis, and joint replacement
- Occupational therapy teaches to improve fine motor skills and dexterity and facilitate self-care such as eating, getting dressed, and bathing.
- Speech therapy for cognition, language, and swallowing, and eating disorders.
Skilled nursing facilities have a heavy focus on healthcare and medical support for residents. Therefore, whether long-term or short-term stays, residents in skilled nursing have a specific medical need to be tended to. As a result, the development of these facilities requires extreme attention to the guidelines for such care.
Finally, the last type of senior housing option is a Continuing Care Retirement Community or a CCRC. Sometimes a CCRC is referred to as a Life Plan Community.
A CCRC model is a development that offers a full spectrum of care options for residents. From independent living to skilled nursing, a CCRC has residence options for each level of care. However, there is one main difference in a CCRC versus a community with multiple levels of care.
A buy-in fee (or entrance fee) is required based on the residents’ needs with a CCRC model. An entrance fee holds a spot for the resident for the highest level of on-site nursing care. There can be varying fee structures depending on the community, the buy-in fee, and several other factors.
Once a resident has paid a buy-in fee, they remain in the community. After that, they can transition to the care levels they need.
For investors and developers, this may be an investment model to consider.
Partner With Us
As our name suggests, at Concord Development Partners, we believe in agreement and harmony between people – residents, tenants, operators, investors, and lenders. We feel that every opportunity is a potential partnership.
The options for senior housing are varied, and the sector is sure to grow for years to come. Our mission is to develop high-end, cutting-edge, beautifully decorated independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities that feel like home.
We are committed to recognizing the needs of every senior who chooses to live in the communities we develop.
The wants and needs of the baby boomer generation have necessitated a sea change in the senior living industry. Remote locations are a thing of the past. But, we have a unique knack for site selection. And, the future is senior housing in urban areas at the center of the action. We have our finger on the pulse of industry trends.
Integrity is everything. And, we’re interested in investors who share our core values of Integrity.
Team-Oriented, Fun, Extreme Ownership. Explore more about Our Approach.
Learn more about us and our unique approach to senior housing development. Then, download our free Senior Living Strategy Guide for interested investors.