Redefining Senior Living For Boomers Through The NameStorm Project

Although most Boomers will be retired five years from now, many seem reluctant to consider retirement communities in their plans. Only one in five Boomers wants to relocate to senior-related housing or an active-adult community, according to a survey by the Demand Institute Housing & Community. 

The survey asked more than 4,000 Baby Boomer households (50- to 69-year-olds) about their current living situations, moving intentions and housing preferences. Most plan to age in place: 63% do not plan to move from their homes.  

The majority of prospective age-in-placers also feel that their current homes are places they can remain in as they get older in spite of the fact that many of these homes are not single-story and do not offer low-maintenance and accessibility features. 

This means that the senior living industry faces a challenge in winning over the next generation of retirees. The industry must combat the Boomer view of senior living communities as places for people with serious health issues, who can’t take care of themselves and need medical attention. The mindset is: “I’m too young to live in a place like this.” 



 To change this perception, senior living leaders are looking at rebranding the industry by creating a new name for communities that offer a full continuum of care. The current, 35-year-old term, Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), places the emphasis squarely on "care" and "retirement,” two words that don’t resonate with Boomers. 

To look at an alternative name for CCRCs, a national study is being conducted through a joint partnership created by LeadingAge and Mather LifeWays. 

In this study, a task force is researching perceptions of the label “Continuing Care Retirement Community” and investigating alternative wording that would describe our communities more accurately — and appealingly. We are  on the NameStorm task force, along with LeadingAge, Mather LifeWays, GlynnDevins, SB&A, Brooks Adams Research and Love & Co. 

In the NameStorm study, quantitative and qualitative research is being conducted across the country with CCRC residents, prospects and staff as well as the community at large. 

So far, it seems that people are excited about the possibility of a name change, but it’s a change that needs to be carefully considered. Will a CCRC by any other name smell as sweet? Stay tuned for future developments.

9 comments about "Redefining Senior Living For Boomers Through The NameStorm Project".
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  1. Arthur Koff from, May 5, 2015 at 11:43 a.m.

    The response via email as well as the traffic to specific pages of retirment living on RetiredBrains which includes aging in place, retiring abroad, retirement homes, retirement communities, nursing homes, etc. exactly reflects the information in the above article.

    Boomers are looking for almost any alternative to living in facillities and communities dedicated to what used to be the needs of older Americans. At the same time boomers are planning to continue working longer be it full-time, part-time, temporary, project based or in seasonal jobs. 

    It is my belief that retirement communities must begin to offer work and entrpreneurial opportunites to their residents as opposed to just recreational facillities if they hope to be able to interest boomers in residing there.

  2. Patricia Friedlander from Word-Up!, May 5, 2015 at 11:45 a.m.

    At 71, the prospect of living in a place where everyone is retired, old, whatever is nasty. I'll age in place, thank you, on the north side of Chicago, and if I get a slower on the stairs, that's the price I'm willing to pay for diversity.

  3. Barbara Morris from Put Old on Hold Journal, May 5, 2015 at 1:38 p.m.

    Arthur Koff made a good suggestion when he said "retirement communities must begin to offer work and entrpreneurial opportunites to their residents as opposed to just recreational facillities if they hope to be able to interest boomers in residing there." However, that would not entice me to be a resident. Call it whatever you want, I believe living among old people exclusively is depressing and contributes to decline and detrioriation.

    As for needing "assisted" living, installing a stair elevator in a two-story home and a walk-in tub in the bathroom has to be less expensive and less traumatic than pulling up stakes and moving to a community of cranky old people.

  4. Arthur Koff from, May 5, 2015 at 1:48 p.m.

    From the resonse we have been receiving Barbara, those who are interested in leaving their homes and moving to a "community" seem interested in communities that cater to their age group. Boomers want to live among boomers of similar interests and not communities that include people a great deal older.

    This would seem to be a difficult type of community to build and market.

  5. Linda Moskal from WNPV Radio, May 5, 2015 at 5:04 p.m.

    I had to laugh at the second to last line ... Will a CCRC by any other name smell as sweet?  Have you visited one?  My mother-in-law lives in one and I would never describe the smell as "sweet!"

  6. Anne Holmes from BoomerCo Inc., May 5, 2015 at 5:57 p.m.

    My mother and step-father live in a CCRC, and I've also visited another relative who lived in one. I'm sure it is my experience with these facilities that causes me to have little to no interest in living in one.

    Interestingly enough, my mother asked me a few months ago if my hisband and I would ever consider moving to a place like theirs. She waas asking, because the CCRC they live in, is trying bery hard to figure out how to attract Baby Boomer aged residents. So my mother was sounding me out in order to help their staff...

    The thing is, I wouldn't mind being able to daily walk down to the dining room at dinner time to enjoy a fine meal in a dining room full of my friends, being served by an attentive and friendly waitstaff, while dining by candlelight -- and I might even consider dressing for dinner in the process: I used to do this at my sorority house when I was in college, and I heartily enjoyed it.  (I also liked getting ready for school, then before heading to class -- running down to the dining room to grab some breakfast and make myself a lunch to take with me.

    And I envy my mother and step-father the on-site art classes, pool, and exercise facilities, their community garden, onsite library and even their onsite coffee-shop and walking trails.

    But my mother uses a walker and wears an oxygen concentrator 24/7. She coughs incessently. And my step-father is in the early stages of dementia. They are merely one couple in a hoard of octgenarians in their facility, all similarly health challenged, and all living together. All knowing that they can age in place, "sliding down the hill" to asisted living, nursing home and memory care as needed.

    And for this opportunity they each turned over the majority of their wealth to the CCRC. At least, as far as I understand it, each couple has to prove they have accounts, trust funds, etc. with a net value of at least $1 million.

    No wonder Arthur Koff's research is showing that Boomers want to live among people of smiliar ages and interests. My husband and I are in our early 60s. We both work full-time from home-based offices. And we expect to continue to do this well into our 70s.

    I cannot imagine that the fine CCRC where my mother lives could possibly be a place my husband and I would seek to move into, within the next couple of years. Were we there in our current state of relative good health, and active, fully-functioning brains, I am sure we would quickly become depressed.

    I also suspect that dinner conversation would not be very stimulating. (Not to mention, the food is served cafeteria style -- no white coated waiters and candlelight, as I mentioned up top.

    So I could see moving to a "golden girls" type of shared housing if I were single. But fo now, I'm sticking with the Boomers who want to age in place in our own homes.

  7. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 5, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

    Those communities are now built out in the boonies where there is no public transportation and everything is pretty far except for some chain store stuff in driving range. Friends and family do not have the time and range to make visiting frequent. This is living in isolation. Making a bunch of dust collectors that nobody needs or wants and fill my days with only old people, some still living in 1955 is not an aging well forboding. Living in the center of the city where there is life all around with community and activity along with medical centers near would be closer to the ideal. The Levittowning of boomers will fall like the collapsing hollows of the 20th century billion dollar profiteering builders building where the jobs and opporrtunity are gone and empty malls and buildings are in left.

  8. John O'Rear from HKS Inc, May 11, 2015 at 9:57 a.m.

    I find it amusing that people think boomers are so stupid that a name change is going to change their perception of a senior living facility.  We did not fall of the turnip truck yesterday:)  Most everyone, if given the chance, would opt to live in their own home and take care of themselves regardless of what generation they are a part of.  Communities need the diversity of the enegertic youth and the wise elderly and everything in between.  It is not wise to seek to segregate older folks away from everyone else.  I believe that the Senior Living Industry needs to re-evaluate what their industry needs to be and not seek to try to convince older folks to give up their independence to promote its business model.  

  9. Arthur Koff from, May 11, 2015 at 10:10 a.m.

    John, I believe you are totally correct for the great majority of boomers, but this does not necessarily hold true for many retirees in their 70's and 80's or those boomers who are a good deal more infirm than most.  At 80 myself I hear from many who have seen the resources we provide on RetiredBrains who would very much like to stay in their home but just do not feel up to it. They want the security of some kind of senior living facility.

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