Be Silver Tsunami Ready!

Transitioning to a social model of senior housing will be key to attracting new residents

When you think of senior housing your first thought might be a place where your grandparents or great-grandparents lived toward the end of their life or are currently living. There are, however, many types of senior housing facilities including Nursing Facilities, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home for the Aged, and Adult Foster Care. Of these facility types, the State of Michigan currently regulates three of them: Nursing Facilities, Home for the Aged and Adult Foster Care.

Thanks in part to advancements in healthcare and science, people are entering senior housing much later in life—the average age of today’s senior housing resident is 84. The Baby Boomer generation (people born between 1946 and 1964)—nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be a senior citizen by 2030 which is often referred to as the Silver Tsunami—is the next population group to enter the market for senior housing.

In preparation for the Silver Tsunami, we have seen senior housing facilities begin renovating in order to provide residents with a home-like atmosphere while also addressing comfort for both the residents and their family. The Boomers, however, are healthier and more active, physically and socially, than previous generations and very likely experienced moving a loved one into a facility with a very institutional look and feel. The old institutional model is not what the Boomer generation is looking for and facility owners, directors, and designers will have to reinvent senior living housing to meet their expectations as well as those of their children.

To meet these expectations it is important that facilities invest in comfort and amenities to attract new residents, including:

  • True Independence—providing residents with choices from the level of care they can receive in the facility to private rooms, resident room finishes, and dining options.
  • Social Interaction—areas for connection, conversation and community like café s and bars for beer and wine. For example, Friendship Village of Kalamazoo offers a very well-attended happy hour once a week.
  • Activities—a variety of things for residents to do from day trips to presentations or classes (for hobbies) to interactive games. At Maple Lawn Medical Care Facility, for example, they offer a cooking class for their residents called “Cooking with Nikki.” They also have a “Man Cave” and “She-Shed” for hobbies.
  • Dining Options—residents are looking for a community where there are dining choices and made to order meals rather than a large dining hall with a buffet.
  • Physical Fitness—health and physical activity are important to residents and providing opportunities for aerobics, indoor and outdoor walking paths, swimming pools, and exercise equipment rooms is key for maintaining wellness and attractive a more physically active generation.
  • Technology—accessibility and use of technology from computers to tablets and smart phones is wide spread and crosses many generations. Having ample charging areas and connectivity / data or signal strength in resident rooms and common areas is increasingly important as is knowing how and where staff will use and access technology.

Is your facility prepared to meet the expectations and needs of incoming and future residents and their families? Have you considered how you are going to reach this goal and provide these services or amenities? Our team of senior living experts take the time to stay ahead of the trends and are able to help you prepare for the future; contact Curt Penny today for additional information.

Senior Living Design Trends

Defining today’s optimum environment for today’s seniors while exploring the future

Our Senior Living Team—David Jarl, Curt Penny, Jennifer Wyatt, Gabrielle Murawski, and Donna Van Natter—recently embarked on the task of designing the senior living facility of the future. We started the process by developing an “ideal resident room for today’s seniors.” We determined that it was important to incorporate many key features that the next generation will demand and continue the move toward a more social model. Our ideal room embraces the home-like atmosphere while ensuring the space is accessible, equipped with technology, and provides room for personal items. As you can see from the images below, we envision the ideal space to

  • have warm and modern interior finishes with color contrast where appropriate to assist with the visual changes most seniors face;
  • include abundant natural light and motion activated guidance lighting;
  • connect to the outdoors by providing a larger expanse of exterior windows and a private exterior outdoor covered balcony or patio; 
  • include enhanced accessibility features like transition-less flooring, curb-less showers, elevated appliances and pull-out cabinets; and
  • incorporate various forms of technology within the room including voice activated technology (from climate and lighting control to interaction with TVs and other entertainment options), wireless Wi-Fi, resident locator devices, and keyless entry systems.

Since we believe a home is where the heart is, the heart of our project was providing residents with a home that is spacious, warm, and inviting while also providing safety, accessibility, and care. Our plans are to use this “ideal resident room for today’s seniors” as a base model for designing a future facility. The improved design will incorporate many new ideas from research and continuing education that our team engages in. Be sure to spend a few minutes with our Senior Living team at events around the state in 2019, or schedule a time to meet with us, to see how the future facility is evolving!

Holiday Spirit of Giving at Eckert Wordell!

Last year, our Community Initiatives team selected themes—Health, Habitats & Shelters, Basic Needs, and Giving—for each quarter to  focus our giving back to our community efforts around. As befits the holiday season, this quarter our focus is on Giving and through our connection with, and the gracious funding of, the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, we had the honor of purchasing and wrapping a host of presents for a local family that needed a little assistance this year to make their holiday special. Our office elves worked together to wrap all the presents before they were delivered and had a little fun with the ribbons and bows!