Senior living today: 3 new trends

Key Points

  • Independent living is evolving, from aging-in-place technology to creative co-housing options
  • Assisted living providers are abandoning a one-size-fits-all approach for today’s active retirees
  • As the largest expense for seniors, covering housing costs is core to retirement planning

Housing remains the biggest cost in retirement, just as it is in our earning years. For one in six pre-retirees and retirees, housing makes up at least half of their overall expenses.1

The good news is there’s been a surge in creative living options for a wide range of lifestyles tailored to meet the needs of the Baby Boomer population — and many of them are more cost-effective than the typical retirement community.

Here are three areas where senior housing trends are evolving in exciting new ways.

No place like home

Not surprisingly, most retirees aspire to stay in their own home as they age. Thanks to today’s new conveniences and developing technologies, that option is becoming a reality for many.

Remodelers are becoming well-versed in the needs of those aging in place, with 80% of building companies involved in aging-in-place projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders.² And many of those involve forward-thinking updates: From unobtrusive sensors that monitor chronic conditions to apps that program appliances for safety, home technologies of the future have arrived.

While technology can literally be a lifesaver, there’s no substitute for regular human interaction, which has shown to be key to healthy aging and longevity. If you want to stay connected to your current community, another growing aging-in-place trend involves neighbors pooling resources to pay for services such as lawn care, transportation and even exercise classes.

It takes a village

If your friends are like “chosen family,” as the old saying goes, another option growing in popularity involves like-minded people buying property together and sharing some resources and amenities while maintaining their own private living areas. This solution is becoming more popular among single retirees — whether widowed or never married — who prefer the safety and comfort of having roommates as well as sharing certain expenses.

For those who aren’t able to band together with others, already established co-housing communities consist of “neighborhoods” of single-family houses gathered near a central home or building. Each person pays monthly dues for amenities, dining, landscaping, health care and other services.

Another new trend: More retirees are moving to housing built for seniors by colleges located on or near campus. It’s not hard to see why. Universities provide classes, theaters and other activities. Often, they’re also home to hospitals that offer the latest medical advances — a potential key consideration as you age.

Help as needed

Assisted living communities have also seen big changes of late. New options include everything from lifestyle-based communities that cater to artists or writers to upscale facilities complete with personal trainers, concierge services and fine dining. Some senior living facilities encompass continuing care retirement communities, where residents can transition as needed from fully independent housing to increasing levels of care as mobility and health needs change. In short, assisted living is evolving from the one-size-fits-all model of the past to accommodate active seniors with a wide range of interests and health care needs.

Talk to us

After determining how you may want to live in retirement, your advisor can help do a cost-benefit analysis of the options and how they fit into an overall financial plan.