Place Matters: Improving the Aging Experience

It has been a productive year for Shockey’s senior living team. In 2022, we have been recognized by Building Design + Construction as one of the Top 50 Senior Living Contractors in the USA, we presented at LeadingAge Virginia, and we’re continuing to open up new geographic markets. Even so, we’re just getting started. Our team is committed to building the best age-focused housing in the region, and the mandate is clear — resilient, adaptable communities that are youthful in attitude and filled with amenities — that’s what the market wants.

Why Is This Important, Right Now?

Statistically, the number of persons aged 65 and older will double in the next two decades. Average lifespans are also increasing. In a 2022 report, analysts from Marcus & Millichap explain that nearly 69 million people comprise the Baby Boomer generation, and most are entering their 70s soon. As these Baby Boomers age up, they’re wondering, “How do I want to move forward with the next chapter of my life?”. It’s become obvious to them that when the time comes, they want to be in charge of their aging experience — and it’s clear that place matters.

In our conversations with industry colleagues and our senior housing clients, we believe the following six trends are setting the new standard for best-in-class senior housing:

Intergenerational Community & Connection

Experts predict senior communities will become more multigenerational in the years ahead. The places we create for the oldest members of our communities (and those who take on the mantle of their care) must focus on holistic wellness, purpose, and activities that foster greater and more meaningful connections across the breadth of our social landscapes. To offer a more fully-developed aging-in-place experience, operators are looking to more mixed-use and multigenerational lifestyle developments. We expect to see more owners embracing models like the University-Based Retirement Communities (UBRC) senior living concept, which affords residents the advantages of the academic, social, and cultural programming offered by an institution of higher learning. UBRC also integrates lifelong learning with well-appointed residences, services, and amenities tailored for the retiree.

Enhanced Amenities and Outdoor Activity Spaces

Today’s independent living communities are bustling with activities: gardens, spas, fitness centers, salons, art studios, game rooms, bars, and coffee houses. These amenities aren’t for show. They enhance the quality of life and health. Outside, the creation of intentional outdoor courtyards, gathering spaces, sports courts, and walking trails keep residents fit and engaged while also providing opportunities to interact with neighbors, from dog walkers to moms pushing baby strollers.

More Flexibility For Independent Living

The number of 82-year-olds — often the age at which a person moves into senior housing — is growing at an accelerating pace, according to PwC. So, too, is a corresponding rise in acuity levels among this older population. To accommodate the rise in age and acuity, more adaptability within independent living apartments and greater activity programming should follow, so residents can more easily make friends, interact with non-residents, and meaningfully connect with a sense of purpose.

Gerontechnological Advances

As we age, the use of technology allows seniors to maintain and even regain independence. Gerontechnology integrates technology for health, housing, communication, leisure, and, in some instances, work or volunteering for older adults. There is clear evidence that seniors are embracing digital technologies. Whether used for telemedicine, sensory aids, or alerts to assist residents and caregivers, tech advancements enhance people’s lives, facilitate caregiving, and extend the means of aging with grace and dignity. Moreover, communities that develop unique, high-touch, high-impact resident technology programs will see an incredible return on their technology investment, especially as the technology-native generations of the Millennials, Gen Z, and others join the aging adult community.

Customizable Options

Prospective residents are more discerning — and choosier about what they want in their new home. A wider range of floor plans, bathrooms, finish choices, entertaining options, outdoor balconies, and gourmet kitchens is just a smattering of what this population wants to see.

Caring For the Caregiver

Today’s seniors expect more from age-focused housing. So do their caregivers. Labor shortages have become a common theme, and the senior living industry is at a turning point. Pre-pandemic, the design and construction of senior living facilities centered on the user experience, and now it’s critical to level up the private areas for staff and caregivers.

Learn More, Do More

Our senior living experts are constantly learning and doing more to meet the needs of this expanding population.   Shockey has built millions of square feet for senior living clients, with millions more under construction. We build the full range of senior living products from the ground up and have also performed complex renovations, upgrades, and expansions on busy, occupied campuses. If you have a construction project on the horizon and are ready to begin thinking about pre-construction services, contact Shockey President Jeff Boehm.