Retirement Living Council – Opinion from a Baby Boomer
I am sitting here, with my full glass of wine, pondering over the value proposition for retirement living communities as we move forward. We, as developers and village operators, are experiencing significant changes in the provision of these facilities. Our parents and grand- parent’s generations (depending on how old you are as a reader of this blog) experienced a lineal set of life stages – school, career, marriage, children, and retirement. However, what we experience today is marked by constant disruption through political, economic, transport and technological changes, creating a more organic life movement pathway that bangs against us and pushes along unanticipated pathways.
Today’s retirement communities no longer house people who have left work behind, many are still maintaining work roles well into their late 70s early 80s, some out of necessity and others for their continuing contributions in the workplace. Many of the existing Villages were established with the retired person in mind providing social amenities reflective of that age group how were filling idle time with enjoyable pursuits like bowls, village social clubs, and pools. This is no longer the case – lifestyle, luxury, and convenience have become the modern mantra, and we witness this through the growth of amenities such as cafes, restaurants, theatres and health and wellbeing facilities.
The current paradigm is one of supporting those experiencing life-changing events, whether it is health, financial, security or loss. My generation of ‘baby boomers’ is more concerned about life portability, being able to access the wonders of the world and mobile families at the drop of a hat, without the encumbrances of property, maintenance, and responsibility.
Our challenge is traversing the current values towards attracting the next wave of village participants; we have built and developed operations around the former model, which may not be a motivator for moving to retirement communities for the latter group. We will lose several traditional providers of retirement communities through this transition as changes in the residential market and legislative impacts affect an organization’s ability to maintain a balance sheet that allows for the creativity required to change the fabric of an already established Village to meet these new markets.
New developments have truly embraced the newer value proposition of aging in place through innovative builds and access to ever-increasing lifestyle and care services. Communities must recognize and embrace the concept of these fundamental changes to maintain our unique product relevance in this changing marketplace.
The night is drawing in, and I am left with my glass half full – full of optimism!