Senior Living Business Interactive: Design For Flexibility: New Looks, New Footprints

Can we expect a “sea change” in senior living design in the near term? Some architects and designers believe that’s exactly the case. Universal design, state-of-the-art technology, “green” features—even a hospitality-style approach—are already making an impact on senior living design.

Providers and developers will have to pay attention to lifestyle-driven, cost-effective design and construction in order to create communities that will attract new generations of lifestyle-conscious seniors. Older CCRCs will at least need to retrofit their communities to bring them in line with evolving market imperatives. That will require visionary concepts, flexible ideas, practical implementation approaches—and, perhaps most importantly, paying attention to what the next generation of residents really wants.

Last year, a national survey of adult children of CCRC residents—co-sponsored by Brecht Associates, Mather LifeWays Institute, and Ziegler—generated responses from 3,600 people. One of the most encouraging findings [of that survey] is that 77% of respondents said they would be likely or very likely to consider a CCRC in the future, according to Susan Brecht, President of Brecht Associates, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “The majority of those who responded in that way did so because their family members are having a good experience—and that experience influenced the way they feel about CCRCs,” she said.

Across all age groups, though, the potential need for health-care services was the prime motivator for the survey respondents to even consider moving  to a CCRC. So while CCRCs may position themselves as a great choice for independent living, the “health-care prompt” gets people to more seriously consider a CCRC, Brecht pointed out.

Nevertheless, nine of 10 respondents who were very likely to consider a CCRC indicated that, compared to independent living, they thought the CCRC model affords the greatest opportunity for personal safety and security, for social activities, for the ability to age in place, and for convenience, staying fit, and lifelong learning.

Varsity, a marketing and research firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that specializes in the mature market, conducted a “boomer consumer” study in spring 2012. The Next Generation: Understanding What the Boomer Consumer Wants From Retirement Living involved a series of focus groups in Central Pennsylvania with two groups of younger boomers—folks with some level of interest in the CCRC market but who had not decided to move into a CCRC. After a tour of participating communities, the group shared their opinions and points of view with the Varsity researchers. So what do boomers want?
According to Derek Dunham, Mature Marketing Strategist at Varsity, the “boomer consumer” study drew some useful conclusions:

Living spaces. Extravagance for extravagance’s sake was viewed negatively. While high-end products have been introduced as a way to differentiate communities from their competitors, younger boomers are skeptical about who really foots the bill and how to sustain that level of extravagance in the future. “They don’t want to get stuck,” said Dunham. That doesn’t mean compromising the construction or not having well-designed and well-appointed living spaces. In terms of personal living space, their preference fell somewhere between the larger, more opulent homes and a cottage or apartment. Triplexes, duplexes, and townhouse settings were deemed attractive.........Want to read more? Click here for a free trial to Senior Living Business Interactive  and download the current issue today