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GD POV: Preparing for the Silver Wave

Each day in the United States, more than 10,000 people turn 65. These baby boomers are redefining the face of senior living with their improved definition of life after retirement.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article stating the rise of new technology is helping older adults stay in their homes, leaving real estate investors overbuilding units for the massive silver wave.

However, the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) indicates projections of demand are based on demographics and do not consider consumer preferences nor current occupancy rates. The reason is because future usage and occupancy patterns may be different than those of today.

For example, NIC estimates 39,000 units of inventory per year would be needed between 2020 and 2025, fewer than the recent pace of inventory growth. It is not until 2023 that demographically driven demand would require more than today’s pace of inventory growth. In 2023, nearly 56,000 units of inventory would be needed. Factors such as declining numbers of caregivers, higher divorce rates and fewer adult child caregivers will likely support and drive future demand. You build for tomorrow, not for today.

Additionally, research supports a number of wellness benefits associated with the lifestyle and services at senior living communities. A recent study by Mather Institute confirmed that residents of Life Plan Communities report greater levels of wellness compared to older adults who live at home or in other community-based settings.

The evolution in digital health is rapidly transforming the health care and senior living industries — both as a driver of, and an answer to, the challenges industry leaders are grappling with. Certain communities are turning into smart homes to aid the aging population. Voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are helping seniors manage their daily schedules, activities and health assessments. Smart pillboxes assist with dosage control and timing of medication.

The fact is, most of us don’t like change. It’s like owning a 20-year-old car. It’s what you’ve known, and it gets you from point A to point B. But a newer model is now equipped with side air bags, auto braking, and lane assist technologies to improve the safety and experience of your daily commute. Don’t dismiss the newer model because it’s different – it actually might be the most beneficial.

Consumers have options to consider when deciding what will best align with their needs and desires – whether that be aging in place, utilizing a home health provider or moving into a senior living community. Planning requires thought and preparation, but don’t let the perception of one option influence your decision. Take time to look at all the options and keep an open mind as you do your research.

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