In Canada, one attempt to define the boom came from David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo: Profiting from the Demographic Shift in the 21st century (1997). He defines a Canadian boomer as someone born from 1947 to 1966, the years that more than 400,000 babies were born. However, he acknowledges that is a demographic definition, and that culturally it may not be as clear-cut. Doug Owram argues that the Canadian boom took place from 1942 to 1960, but that culturally boomers everywhere were born between the late war years and about 1955 or 1956.
Either way, baby boomers are commonly thought of as the generation that changed everything. Born roughly between the end of World War Two and the early years of the Vietnam War, that huge group of Canadians has had an outsized impact on everything from the media we consume to the food we eat to the cars we buy to the leisure we enjoy. And now that the leading edge of the baby boomers has hit age 70, they’re about to have a major impact in the world of senior housing.
That’s the conclusion from this fascinating article that just appeared on the aging-related website NextAvenue. According to the 2011 Census, 9.6 million persons, or close to 3 Canadians out of 10 (29%), were baby boomers. A cadre of consumers that large and that demanding can’t help but change the retirement housing landscape as the World War II generation, often called “the greatest generation,” passes from the scene. “That’s because boomers have higher expectations as consumers and a history of having those expectations met,” says NextAvenue, “Significant changes are coming.”
The article describes a survey of the senior housing market done by the referral service called A Place for Mom. They talked with experts on aging, senior housing and technology to try to gauge what the coming decade might bring. “The baby boomer generation has never been one to accept the status quo, and that won’t change when it comes to senior living communities,” says the article. “Customers of the future are going to push to do things more the way they want to do it.” Retirement communities will have little choice but to respond to consumer demand by providing greater diversification of services that include more choices in types of housing, more options when it comes to fine dining, more emphasis on wellness and lifestyle programs, and more flexibility when it comes to financial arrangements.
The NextAvenue article lists at least four areas in which today’s boomers will transform tomorrow’s retirement housing. These are:
(1) New breakthroughs in Technology
Experts in senior housing are confident that improvements in technology have real potential to improve the lives of active retirees. “Whether older people of the future plan to age in place at home or move to a senior living community, technological advances will enable them to live healthier, richer lives,” said the NextAvenue For instance, health care providers will increasingly turn to technology called telecare to interact with and diagnose patients via computer screen, and to help monitor their wellness levels. Computer technology can help keep seniors mentally and physically active and alert. Also, while webcams and other tools can’t take the place of person to person connection with loved ones, these communication tools can definitely help fill the void caused by scattered families.
(2) New Challenges When It Comes to Family Caregiving
The article in NextAvenue warns that, in the future, family members will likely be less available for providing care for aging loved ones. As women remain longer in the labor force, they will be less likely to serve as family caregivers, especially if they also experience divorce. At the same time the number of childless adults is on the rise. All these sociological changes will assuredly put more pressure on formal care providers to change their business model and come up with new ways to deliver the care that a new generation of retirees will demand.
(3) New Pricing Strategies and Greater Cost Transparency
“Baby boomers want to have a voice in decisions in things like financial structure and payment systems and will push back and be assertive if they have questions and concerns,” says one expert quoted. In Ontario, we are already seeing the strain of a growing population of beneficiaries, making these long-term care and home care programs less reliable in years to come. That means senior living facilities are going to have to offer an easy way for retirees to comparison shop online, which could help create a more robust marketplace for everybody.
(4) New Ways to Appeal to Active Retirees, Referred to as “The Young Old”
Today, many senior living communities complain that the average “move-in” age remains 80 years old and older. But this could be changing. “Older adult communities of the future will trend toward becoming more attractive to the ‘young old,’” says NextAvenue– “boomers who’ve reached their late 60s or early 70s by 2028 and want to move into senior communities while they’re still healthy enough to enjoy the amenities.” As the law of supply and demand kicks in, those of us who may find ourselves looking for a new and different model of senior housing in the future may find a lot more choices a decade from now than there are today.
No matter whether you’re retiring next month or a decade from now, we have a technology called Senior Connect that can grow with you as your needs change, allowing you to age in place. For more information of how Senior Connect can help you in retirement, go to www.fullcircletelecare.com.