Gone are the days of cookie-cutter senior homes in the North Gulf Coast region. The emerging seniors market is the baby boomer generation, and they are very different from their predecessors who were more conservative in their retirement needs. So, what’s in store as architectural firms and development organizations look to understand the preferences of baby boomers?
One thing is certain: Your grandmother’s retirement home is not the retirement home of the future. We are going to see entirely different product types with a more holistic view of how we foster successful living among the aging baby boomer population.
Here are some of the most important design and development trends we have observed for the senior living market.
Hospitality design model
A large subset of baby boomers will gravitate to urban projects, including ones with smaller units modeled on aspects of successful upscale hotels that emphasize premium location, high-level architectural design and efficiency over space.
Baby boomers want to feel like they are at a resort or on vacation, at the same time as they have the comforts of home. Developers and architects are listening, and the hospitality trend is reflected in the independent living level. Some examples of these key elements are fireplaces, multipurpose spaces, intimate common area seating, media rooms with built-in screens and projection systems, interior gardens and water features.
As to living spaces, think of granite countertops, top-notch appliances, steam rooms and Jacuzzis, in-home recycling centers, dual master suites with walk-in closets and high-coffered ceilings.
Boomers also enjoy hanging out with friends, having activities, and working at what they love. Anticipating this, developers have been creating spaces that can be used for a variety of activities: flexible, large rooms that can host speakers or community events or be turned into a lecture hall, a group exercise class or a small movie theater.
A new buzzword making its way into the architectural and development industry in the North Gulf Coast region is “Wow”. That is the term attached to amenities that not long ago used to be found exclusively in five-star resorts but are now incorporated in high-end residential towers and mixed-use developments as standard.
In fact, the quality and quantity of amenities that your property offers can often determine its rentability and could very well be a deciding factor for baby boomers looking for a place to spend their golden years.
Based on the needs and wants of baby boomers, developers and architects are upping the stakes when it comes to property amenities that appeal to these new retirees for whom luxury and multi-functioning common spaces are non-negotiable musts, often seen as more important than the actual square footage of their living space.
Architects are unleashing their creativity and designing state-of-the-art, resort-style amenities that speak to this sophisticated urban lifestyle, while making the property stand out and competitive.
They are designing boutique amenities that feature amazing patios with barbecues, lounges with open fireplaces, landscaped dining areas, tropical gardens, lagoon pools, yoga studios, full-size fitness centers and dog parks, among many others, all in an effort to stay relevant and satisfy these high-end dwellers.
Vibrant outdoors experiences
Baby boomers want to belong to a community that provides them with an exciting, active, and vibrant lifestyle. They place a high value on outdoor spaces that offer a multitude of recreational opportunities where they can connect and socialize. They take pride in the spaces they can use to entertain themselves and entertain their guests. As a result, senior housing developers are incorporating stunning outdoor spaces in their projects to catch the eye of the baby boomers.
With the variety of products and features available in today’s marketplace, the sky is literally the limit for design possibilities in terms of outdoor amenities that will increase the value of senior living developments. Popular outdoor places, however, extend beyond traditional parks. Trends in senior living environments include high-end sculpted gardens, dog parks, yoga lawns, outdoor fireplaces, outdoor dining venues, infinity pools, biking trails and mini putting greens, just to name a few.
Health and wellness
Health and wellness are taking greater importance in the next wave of senior housing developments. Boomers are going to demand that healthcare services be more convenient. Rather than having to go to the hospital, they are going to expect that healthcare will come to them. As a result, new developments are integrating healthcare in various forms, such as a walk-in clinic in the local drugstore or mixed-use development, or a fully-equipped space where they can meet with their doctors in a senior community.
Focus on fitness
After retirement, many baby boomers will place an even greater emphasis on their workouts and nutrition, setting goals to maintain or reclaim the same level of fitness they had in their 30s, 40s and 50s, not because they care too much about how they look in a bathing suit, but because they are set on remaining fit and healthy during their golden years. So, state-of-the-art gyms and health clubs that provide activities geared toward these active adults, such as water aerobics, crossfit, kickboxing and spin, will provide tremendous value to them.
Integrated use of technology
Baby boomers are serious about technology. Whether it is surfing the Internet for information, online shopping or staying in touch with family and friends around the globe, computers and smart phones are an integral part of their lives. Internet and Wi-Fi services are considered a necessity to help maintain their independent lifestyle.
Incorporating technology goes beyond USB connections and Wi-Fi, though. From wearable devices that can alert emergency personnel or private contacts in the event of a fall to GPS-equipped devices that help individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia remain within a set geographic area, developers are also incorporating other technological advancements like media rooms with built-in screens and projection systems, when designing and building a senior living facility.