The Future of Senior Living

“I plan to live in my home for the rest of my life,” says Evanston resident Alan Lieberman.


“I’ll remain living in an urban environment with people of all ages because it helps me stay younger and more vital.”  His sentiment echoes the majority of baby boomers.  The Liebermans plan to “age in place.”

The leading edge of the baby boom generation just turned 65 and few of the 79 million boomers have even thought about so-called “senior living.” Many are continuing their careers and remain active, healthy adults. As adult children, some are caring for their parents and their only exposure to stages of aging is through their parents.

Huge Market Will Be Challenging

Developers and operators of senior living communities are trying to determine what the baby boomers will want in 15 years. It will be a huge market and a more challenging need. Experts say boomers should think about options, not real estate or the physical location.

Shared communities, private buildings, wellness alternatives, in home-services? “In a retirement community, people are looking for flexibility and choice,” says Moraine Byrne, senior vice president with Covenant Village of Northbrook.  “They want options in how they pay and what services they get.”

Do I Have A Choice?

“The 55-year-olds of today are not looking to retire in the traditional sense,” says Bob Werdan, vice president of sales and marketing with Presbyterian Homes.

One of today’s most touted senior living models is the continuing care retirement community (CCRC). The concept, started about 20 years ago, consists of one location where all stages of aging are accommodated—from independent living to nursing care. But, the vast majority of fully retired people (more than 90 percent) do not choose a CCRC, according to Werdan.

So, developers are looking at creating supplemental programs for people who do not want to leave their homes. One concept, according to Werdan, would be a condominium building that could be converted to an age-friendly building. This would include “service enriched” living, with foodservice, concierge service and in-home assistance if needed. There will be lots of new options on the horizon.

“Aging boomers will increasingly seek engagement and lifelong learning, whether at a nearby university or in their living rooms,” says Linda Hollinger-Smith, PhD, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. “Senior living communities are extending programs and services beyond their four walls to older adults who live in the community at large.”

The good news for baby boomers is that senior living options are beginning to change to accommodate their needs.

Above photo is of Ricki and Alan Lieberman who plan to “age in place” at their of Evanston condo.

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