While wellness remains a hot topic for most segments of the population, it is proving to be especially transformative for baby boomers considering a move into a senior-living facility. “Most senior-living companies over the past 25 years have built their communities and programming based on the demographics of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation,” says Jayne Sallerson, COO of Charter Senior Living. “There was definitely less focus on health and wellness and more focus on security and peace of mind for seniors. As the baby boomers begin to either look for options for their loved ones or for independent-living options, they are much more aware and focused on health and wellness than prior generations.”
According to her, they are interested in programming that incorporates a range of healthy options. As a result, we can expect to see such options growing to meet demand. “We know the growth and popularity of wellness-based senior-living facilities are because of the large population of baby boomers with expendable incomes coming of age,” says Michael Tompkins, partner of Hutchinson Consulting. “This group has adult children who are active, model and encourage a wellness lifestyle, and want the same for their aging parents and grandparents. The difference in the baby boomer generation and the generations before them is that baby boomers intend to spend their wealth on themselves before they die.”
Developers and operators are also driving the trend in an effort to attract younger seniors. “If operators can attract younger seniors by positioning the community as a place to go for health and wellness and not a place to go because they need care, this would allow for longer-length stays,” says Sallerson. According to her, developers are creating spaces that accommodate yoga, more expansive gyms, educational areas, pools, and walking paths. Providers are also offering spa services, such as facials and massage, and physical therapy services are being updated. “Traditionally, these third-party relationships with physical therapy providers tended to be focused on rehabilitation and not proactive health and wellness,” says Sallerson. Now, the services provided are more in line with what you’d find at a health club.
At Latitude Margaritaville, 55-and-better active adult communities in Daytona Beach, FL, Watersound, FL, and Hilton Head, SC, residents benefit from walkable neighborhoods, fitness centers with aerobics studios, indoor lap pools, spas, and group fitness classes. The Daytona Beach community recently partnered with Halifax Health to provide residents with access to a wide range of wellness services and community programs, such as health fairs, walks with a doctor, blood pressure screenings, nutrition talks, health seminars, and more. According to Beth Moorefield, marketing director, new business and partner relations for Margaritaville, it’s the residents who drive the programming. Seniors today are interested in activities that involve nature, such as hiking and kayaking; field trips to local attractions; and games, like bowling and bloody marys and the especially popular pickleball. Moorefield says residents are even requesting to teach a Zumba class or lead a pickleball clinic.
Latitude Margaritaville certainly isn’t the only company focused on raising the bar on its wellness offerings. “New urban models like Inspir are also popping up,” says Tompkins. Inspir Carnegie Hill in New York City, for example, incorporates innovative technologies that help monitor health and wellness, such as voice recognition devices that provide helpful data, lighting designed to elevate mood and improve sleep, and apps to help stay connected with loved ones. On-site, residents also have access to a full-service spa, a fitness center, and an inviting pool. Charter Senior Living has also begun incorporating healthy options in its existing communities, such as exercise programs, water aerobics, healthy living menus, and educational classes. Sallerson expects enhanced brain-health programs to be especially desirable. “I think most seniors are looking for a variety of health and wellness options,” she says. “Seniors move in with a spectrum of abilities, so providing options is critical.”
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