Find The Right Senior Living Solution: 8 Keys

Written by Hiland - Senior Lifestyle Expert on Monday, July 11, 2016

Caregivers face difficult decisions when helping loved ones identify and locate the best senior living solutions. In most cases there is initial resistance from seniors but as time goes by, the need becomes undeniable. Very often safety is the biggest factor, but there are other considerations in this competitive marketplace.

The country is undergoing an explosion in senior housing but there still remains a compelling shortage of ideal opportunities. The senior living marketplace is stressed enough that if location and quality count, the time to begin the search is years ahead of the physical need.

According to David Schless, President of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), there were 76 million Americans born between 1945 and 1964. Schless points out that for seniors aged 55 and above, there are five general types of )senior residence opportunities:

  • Senior apartments
  • Independent Living (IL) Communities
  • Assisted Living (AL) Communities
  • Nursing Care (NC) facilities.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s)

As mentioned in my previous post, today’s seniors are impacting the quality and nature of senior housing and the quality of senior caregiving. In 2012, ASHA reported there were 2,099,616 senior housing units in the country’s top 100 metro markets and 2.9 million senior housing units nationwide. If the ASHA figure of 76 million seniors born between 1946 and 1964 is correct, we can understand the pressure to find a senior housing solution before the need arises.

8 Things to Look for in Senior Housing Choices

Investment in senior housing is big business. At the end of the first quarter, 2012, 25,369 new units for independent living and 17,272 senior apartments were under construction in the top 100 metro areas. Today, we see Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s) investing in the sector. Toledo-based Health Care REIT, Inc. recently invested $844.6 million in a project identified as Sunrise Senior Living.

Given that today’s seniors are changing the nature of the industry, builders are attempting to change the quality of senior housing to meet the current group’s standards and diverse lifestyle choices. These are elements the building industry now strives to present to the new crop of senior residents:

  1. Unique amenities – In a competitive marketplace, it is often the amenities that make the difference. Senior housing developers attempt to outdo each other to gain the attention of caregivers and seniors alike.
  2. Programs that overcome negative perceptions – Seniors often envision outdated nursing home models when they hear “senior living.” 21st century developers are fighting back with great, personal apartment designs and sharp kitchens and safe bathrooms. Many have outdoor patios. In fact, when seniors see the new senior living communities, most are excited about the quality.
  3. Accommodate aging in place – Many seniors say they intend to age in place at their current residence but very often they mean age in one place, not necessarily the family home. Developers now strive to show caregivers that senior living residences have the support to allow their loved ones to age in place.
  4. Memory care services – Memory care is a service that most senior communities now offer. The degree of service can be tailored to the senior’s needs but in-house memory care offers a valuable level of support that did not exist years ago. 
  5. Inroads to the community at large – More and more senior communities, like Sun City Center in Florida, are embracing their senior communities and the feeling is mutual. Seniors can drive golf carts in town, are assured of high quality police protection and receive favored treatment at boutiques and restaurants. Seniors are leveraging their spending power and senior-friendly communities like it!
  6. Ancillary services galore – Caregivers should look for senior living communities that supplement memory care with other helpful services like short-term rehabilitation services. Another feature to consider are walkways between various buildings in the community. Are they lighted, covered, level and protected by handrails? These ancillary type features add up to safer environments where social interaction and movement are easier.
  7. Sustainability modeling – Seniors like comfort but they tend to be fiscally and environmentally responsible and warm to solar energy, wind energy. LEED certified senior housing is rare but sustainability features appeal to seniors and should to caregivers.
  8. Greenhouse Project Models – The Greenhouse Project is a model that may change our entire vision of senior housing. Do not reject this model without research. In a Greenhouse Model, 10-12 seniors share the same kitchen, dining and common areas. The model breeds sociability and social responsibility. Not only do seniors like the concept but staff members also give Greenhouse Model innovation high marks. These models offer intriguing opportunities to age in pace with minimal outside support.