We get it: today’s seniors don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to retirement living. With the continual emergence of innovative technologies and breakthroughs in the medical field, today’s seniors are not only living longer, but are enjoying a better quality of life well into old age compared to previous generations.
Because seniors are staying healthier and more independent in their later years, their expectations and demands of senior living options are changing — and senior living communities must adapt to meet this market’s changing demands. Senior living communities can no longer afford to solely focus on providing great care — communities must now provide unique amenities and services that enhance their residents’ quality of life in all aspects. What exactly will this kind of customized senior living look like in the years ahead?
Here’s a quick preview:
With AARP reporting that 90 percent of today’s seniors want to age in place, comfort, style and a home-like atmosphere are at the top of seniors’ minds when they do decide to look for a new home at an independent or assisted living community. This means that communities mirroring sterile hospital waiting rooms or nursing homes are a thing of the past. To help seniors retain a sense of independence and give them a comfortable living space they can make their own, many senior living communities are now offering larger apartments in multiple floor plans that allow residents to choose some design aspects, such as countertops, flooring and cabinets.
Other important design aspects now being taking into consideration include common spaces that serve a variety of functions; fitness and spa areas to house wellness offerings and exercise programs; floor plans with specially designed layouts; and green buildings. In addition, smart buildings that incorporate touchscreen technologies and other innovations are now becoming more commonplace in the senior living world.
Reflecting the importance of integrative design in senior living communities, Senior Housing News began their annual Architecture & Design Awards in 2016 to recognize communities that strive to meet seniors’ needs and desires. This year, One Wingate Way — our luxury independent living community located at the crossroads of Needham, Newton and Wellesley, Massachusetts — was named a runner up in the independent living category.
One Wingate Way was designed to give residents choice and flexibility in every aspect of living: the community has a variety of stylishly decorated common spaces and dining areas, beautifully landscaped grounds and outdoor lounge areas, a state-of-the art gym with wellness rooms, and apartments available in a variety of floor plans that can be tailored to residents’ individual taste and style.
It’s not just a community’s design that needs flexibility in order to suit its individual residents’ needs, it’s the comprehensive list of services and amenities the community offers: activities and programming; food and dining options; how residents connect with each other, staff and the community as a whole; how much care and attention residents need and when and how they receive that care. Instead of focusing on baby boomers and other major senior demographics as whole, today’s communities have to focus on the needs of the individual.
That means a focus on residents’ families, too. When a family member visits, they want a choice of places to interact with their loved one – whether it be in the common area that houses a coffee shop, bistro or library, or in the courtyard that’s home to gardens, walking paths, a grill and fire pit. They also want to choose how they interact with their loved one’s new community, which could mean connecting with the community on social media, attending resident-family events and/or receiving monthly newsletters with updates on the community. There have to be options.
While seniors shopping for independent and assisted living may not be focused on health care, health needs can change over time and seniors currently in independent or assisted living may need to consider a community that offers more comprehensive or flexible care programs down the road.
Wingate recognizes that transitioning from one level of care to the next can be stressful on the resident and their family, especially when a move is involved. To mitigate this stress, Wingate has been focusing on developing various senior living options that are housed on one continuum of care campus. These campuses may be home to independent and assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care to suit a wide range of living and healthcare needs. For example, Wingate Residences at Haverhill — an assisted living and memory care community coming soon to Haverhill, MA — will be part of a larger continuum of care campus that also houses the skilled nursing facility Wingate at Haverhill.
We recognize that today’s seniors aren’t interested in traditional long-term care and housing options, which is why we’re continuously updating our service offerings and planning new developments to meet the changing needs and expectations of our residents and their family members. In 2018, our focus will be on innovation — in design, delivery of services and personalized care.
Resident-centric retirement living is the future of senior care. To learn more about how Wingate’s communities are meeting today’s seniors’ needs, click here.