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Emerging Trends in Senior Living

Over the past two decades, the baby boomer generation has been the driving force behind many of the trends in our society. Now, as our senior population continues to grow, and the baby boomers begin moving toward retirement, their power as consumers and influencers is having an impact on senior living communities.

Seniors are remaining more active. They are re-entering the workforce, taking on new careers, volunteering and enhancing life through continued education. Such active lifestyles often lead to the desire for a lower maintenance home, leading many younger seniors to downsize from a house to a condo or apartment before moving to an actual retirement community.

Those who prefer to transition directly to a senior living community are finding more to choose from, particularly with the emergence of Themed Communities centered on key areas of interest shared by residents, such as golf or the arts.

Fitness is becoming a priority as seniors seek out retirement environments that support healthy living. Workout rooms no longer consist of a couple of bikes in a closet-sized room. Seniors now look for access to an array of fitness equipment, workout programs, indoor pools, personal trainers, masseuses and spas.

This generation of seniors also is tech savvy, and technology is becoming more prominent in senior living communities, enhancing interaction and helping to boost independence. Computers are becoming standard fare in resident's apartments, allowing them to log onto a community intranet and book dinner reservations or place maintenance reports, or the Internet to correspond with their neighbors, family and friends or access the World Wide Web.

Advanced technology also is making life easier for older or physically challenged seniors. Apartments are being transformed into "smart houses" where lights can be turned on, drapes drawn and water temperature controlled - all with the touch of a button.

The bottom line for today's seniors is that the trends are pointing to an enhanced quality of life in a variety of senior living environments.

 Ann Bannes is vice president of home and community-based services for St. Andrew's At-Home Services, a local non-profit organization that serves the needs of the elderly and their caregivers.