Senior Living For The Next Generation: What's In, What's Out

How does the senior living industry need to evolve to meet the needs of Baby Boomers as they plan for the next chapter in their lives?

It’s a question that has all types of senior living models scrambling to make changes. The next generation of retirees is having a dramatic effect on the communities trying to appeal to it. The 10,000 individuals turning 65 each day have expectations that are considerably broader than their parents’ and grandparents’. As a Boomer myself, I know that my generation has expectations that need to be met before communities can expect to get their business. And the first step is not to call them “senior” living communities.

Communities are making changes in all areas of living, including: 


What’s in: For many Boomers, retirement is a chance to finally do exactly what they’ve always dreamed of — whether it’s traveling, going back to school or donating their time to a cause that is personal to them. That means art gallery openings, college lectures, fitness classes, travel opportunities and more off-site programming.



What’s out: Traditional on-campus activities that stay the same from month to month, bringing people in to “entertain” residents 


What’s in: Baby Boomers want a lifestyle similar to what they’re leaving behind. That means amenities, such as state-of-the-art appliances, wireless technology, spacious residences with open floor plans, high ceilings and walk-in-closets, and the ability to personalize their new home with whatever finishes they desire, as well as resort-style amenities such as 24/7 security, concierge service that serves more of a hospitality function, housekeeping and laundry services.

What’s out: Cramped apartments with limited closet space, single-sink bathrooms, carports or parking spaces in lieu of garages, and traditional floor plans


What’s in: More so than any generation before them, Boomers are very conscious of the importance of exercise and eating well. They are used to having gym memberships and doing yoga, Zumba, spinning, running and biking. And women especially enjoy a spa day with friends. Progressive communities are renovating to offer these amenities and creating programming that reflects the habits of these active Boomers. 

What’s out: Old-style beauty shops, traditional exercise classes with tired names such as “Sit and Fit”


What’s in: A la Carte pricing that allows residents to tailor the services they receive. When considering communities, Boomers want to pick and choose from a variety of entrance fee options, including equity ownership, and flexible service packages that allow for significantly reduced monthly fees while they travel.

What’s out: One-size-fits all, take-it-or-leave it options, such as the non-refundable entrance fee contract


What’s in: Boomers don’t want to have dinner in the same dining room at a set time each day or sit at the same table with the same people each night, and they certainly do not want to be limited in what they eat: they want more vegetarian, organic, gourmet and healthy choices. Dining models are accommodating these preferences by offering residents a variety of options throughout the day — from à la carte menus in an upscale environment to fast and casual options like coffee shops, sports bars and cafés, with “room service” available as desired.

What’s out: One dining room offering three meals a day with the same-old-same-old menu

Having been integrally involved in the sales and marketing of senior living communities for more than 26 years, I am excited to be a part of these industry changes. Of course, many communities have structural limitations or lack the funds to completely overhaul their living space, construct a state-of-the-art gym and equip the entire campus with wireless. But whatever your budget, there are updates you can implement that will make your community more appealing to the next generation of retirees.

2 comments about "Senior Living For The Next Generation: What's In, What's Out".
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  1. Jackie Stone from Varsity, February 24, 2015 at 10:14 a.m.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Denis Snow and Paula Lynn. Just to clarify, this post is about "Senior Living for the Next Generation" and what existing senior living communities should consider in terms of their physical plant and programming in order to attract Boomers and continue to thrive in the future. I have been in the senior housing field for over 26 years and have worked with over 100 communities across the country. I have met with many Boomers who are investigating independent senior living for their parents and I am a Boomer myself. I can tell you from personal experience that many independent living communities have not kept up with changing times in terms of design, programming, and technology, and will need to reinvent themselves in order to appeal to my generation.

  2. Arthur Koff from, February 24, 2015 at 11:42 a.m.

    Traffic to the RetiredBrains area of Boomer & Senior Discounts continues to increase leading us to speculate that today, older Americans are just as interested in savings as they were 10 or even 20 years ago.

    Boomers will accept ways of living their lives, activities, travel, eating out and purchasing products and services in ways that do not meet their lifestyle choices if they are able to use discounts to save; however small discounts are often ignored and this is a change from years past.

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