January 2024 — Health Care, Senior & Life Sciences Quarterly — Page 17 SENIOR LIVING: BABY BOOMERS A s an architect and boomer who has been designing senior living for over 20 years and is now looking to start the next chapter in my life, my wife and I have given much thought to what it looks like for us (notice I avoided using the word retirement). As I have reflected on the design and research I've done over the years, I have come up with a list of the seven essential ingre- dients for a fulfilling community in which to age. n Community. People are naturally social creatures, and research has repeatedly shown that connection leads to a longer and healthier life. As we age, this sense of connec- tion becomes even more critical. I've learned that how we find social links and community looks differ- ent to everyone; it could be living on a campus with all types of func- tions and amenities or a single- family community with an inviting clubhouse. Having a central loca- tion or a designated location to join planned or unplanned activities attracts residents and the public to enjoy events such as concerts or farmers markets while creating a link to the surrounding community. Boomers want to live in a place that allows them to stay socially engaged. n Purpose. Like many others, my career has given me a deep sense of purpose. Our careers can make us feel worthwhile and valued; what we do makes us feel impor- tant. Boomers want to keep their minds active and engaged. The more involved a resident is in the operation of a community, the greater the sense of purpose they will have within it. It also reduces the need for on-site man- agement to orga- nize events. Being a part of the community through volunteer efforts, event committees, or even being able to work in a flex space with other semiretired pro- fessionals gives boomers purpose to what they’re doing. n Family. We realize how much joy being with our family brings to us and how important it is for them to have easy access to us. To maintain strong family ties, we want it to be convenient for our families to visit us. It could be having a place for them to stay within the community or being a short distance from a hotel, as well as having accessible transportation connections. n Movement. Experts say regular exercise is the best way to keep a healthy body and mind. Movement, like community, can mean different things for different people. Move- ment could be visiting a dog park, enjoying a walking trail, or living in a walkable neighborhood where access to shopping, health care, entertainment and recreation is just a short walk instead of a car ride away. Boomers want to enjoy movement regularly without worry- ing about working it into their daily routine. n Routine vs. spontaneity. When talking to my wife about these ingredients, we see the need for both routine and spontaneity in our lives. We all have our daily routines. As boomers, we also like not being tied to our schedules to enjoy an unexpected encounter or event. Just like the dog park can be used for movement, it can create spontane- ous moments between owners. Outdoor courtyards with pro- grammed events like weekly sum- mer barbecues or visits from a dif- ferent food truck to enjoy a meal, and spaces such as boccie courts and game lawns provide opportu- nities for both routine and unex- pected connections. Boomers are looking for a community rich with potential surprises, reminding them that having fun is OK. n Enrichment and well-being. Boomers want to keep their minds engaged but also have time to reflect and desire space for self- care. Boomers seek a learning-rich environment in their communities where they can learn new skills like Essential ingredients boomers are looking for next A recent study funded by the National Investment Cen- ter for Seniors Housing & Care found that 54% of the 14.4 million middle-income older adults in 2029 in the U.S. will lack the financial resources to pay for senior housing and care. n Affordability will be a challenge. Research points to the financial challenges seniors will face for affordable care and housing. The question becomes, can we develop a model from the ground up and achieve the price point needed to solve the impending challenges for residents, developers and opera- tors? Senior living providers are now evaluating the acquisition and repurposing of older senior housing or hotel buildings to achieve a lower price point. At the same time, oper- ators and their teams are looking at every line item in the budget to see where savings can be realized. n Are active adult environments part of the answer to the affordabil- ity challenge? Active adult living environments have the potential to solve several challenges in the industry. First, active adult hous- ing is a middle-market solution at a time in the U.S. when the middle market is rapidly growing and is priced out of other product types. Secondly, there is an abundance of capital and debt chasing this prod- uct type. The lifestyle opportunity coupled with greater flexibility relates to the values, desires and preferences of newer generations of mature Americans. With price points typically lower than indepen- dent living, active adult communities are a natural entry point for middle- market senior housing. These are seniors who don’t want to own, don’t want to worry about maintenance yet who do want socialization and an active lifestyle. In this scenario, we see rental apart- ment buildings with 150 or more units as the solu- tion. n Aging in place: Active adult com- munities that are flexible and adapt- able. The estimated active adult move-in age is 72. What happens down the road when those resi- dents are 82? Then, the same group needs a more adaptable model. For many baby boomers, aging in place is very important and they prefer to stay in their communities with friends and neighbors. Flexibility and adaptability are key to these active adult communities as their residents advance in age and need additional services. New models in active adult living bring affordable senior living and health care to the community with third- party providers for wellness, health care, dining and food counseling. Some examples include co-branding with an on-site wellness provider and facilitating home health care/ telehealth. All of these types of ser- vices can be added to the residents’ care on an a la carte basis with the goals of keeping people in a familiar environment and helping them age in place. Successful active adult com- munities balance light staffing, on-demand services and strong programming. A combination of resident-led programming and com- munity operator-led programming is ideal. These communities can offer services for residents and facilitate the addition of additional services at the residents’ discretion, for example, grocery or restaurant delivery servic- es, transportation or other care. n Operating expenses and innova- tive design solutions. What specific design solutions can we look at to be more innovative with spaces and do more with fewer square feet as a cost measure? • Designing more efficient, multiuse community spaces. Common living areas can be designed to function as both lounge areas, spaces for educational and cultural events or spaces to socialize before, or tak- ing a fitness class. Proper program- ming of these community spaces will create a sense of belonging and shared culture, where residents and caretakers can connect. It also allows the facility to offer the sur- rounding community and neighbors to share the services on-site, such as Affordability: Aging in place as active adults John Binder Principal, Kephart SENIOR LIVING: AGING IN PLACE Christian Fussy, AIA Senior living principal, Hord Coplan Macht Boomers want to live in a place that allows them to stay socially engaged. Please see Binder, Page 19 The lifestyle opportunity coupled with greater flexibility relates to the values, desires and preferences of newer generations of mature Americans. Please see Fussy, Page 21