8 Ways Baby Boomers Have Made Senior Living SO Much Better

Updated: Sep. 06, 2017

This ain't your grandma's nursing home!

8-ways-baby-boomers-made-senior-living-better-388853671-wavebreakmediawavebreakmedia/ShutterstockBaby boomers have a history of challenging the norms and demanding something different—and better. In the 1960s, they exercised freedom of expression about civil rights, the war, and feminism. Now that they’re in (or approaching) their 60s, they’re voicing their desires about the future of senior housing. And considering the number of Americans ages 65 and up is expected to more than double between 2016 and 2060, senior living operators and developers better pay attention. And what do boomers want?

1. Pets welcome
Whether seniors know these health benefits of having a pet or just love their furry friends, they aren’t giving up their pets anytime soon. If Fido can’t go, they’ll pass. But it’s not enough for Fido to just come along; boomers are looking for amenities for their best furry friends too. Think doggie spas and fenced-in runs.

2. Pamper me
The sterile hospital feel is so retro, and not in a good way. Tomorrow’s senior housing consumers want it to look and feel like they’re on vacation, and in a sleek, contemporary setting (modern is in). Don’t forget the robust list of amenities: Boomers want to have ample choices, more services, maybe even chocolates on their pillows. We recommend senior housing facilities take a cue from these tricks to make overnight guests feel more comfortable.

3. More space, please
On the whole, downsizing is not in their vocabulary. Most boomer consumers want space for all their stuff, a dedicated place to entertain new and old friends, and plenty of room for the grandkids to visit. Senior living is moving away from studios and toward more one-bedroom options. (If your place feels too small to have people over, steal these tips for entertaining in a small space.)

4. Anti-boredom
Yes, they want to play golf, but boomers want to be active in other ways—sports or not—“on-campus” and off. (Just look at these inspiring senior athletes for proof!) They want workshops to tinker in, gardens to cultivate, and volunteer opportunities in which to be engaged. They want fitness centers and a social wellness calendar packed with Zumba, yoga, pottery, guest lectures, concerts, computer classes, mixers and more—like these 10 ways to keep your brain sharp as you age.

8-ways-baby-boomers-made-senior-living-better-455033095-wavebreakmediawavebreakmedia/Shutterstock5. The city life
Experts are seeing a surge in popularity among urban housing options and settings for retirees, who are no longer worried about school districts, parking, and other metro area drawbacks typically associated with parents of young children. A city’s “walkability” is an important consideration here as well, both in terms of walking distance and ease of walking (for those who may have mobility issues now or later). That way, seniors can take advantage of these health benefits of a quick, 15-minute walk.

6. A wired world
Wi-Fi is not a luxury but a necessity. Boomers and seniors are the fastest growing online demographic, so they’ll need to stay connected. Besides, how else will they be able to Skype with the grandchildren or post pictures from last night’s wine and cheese social to Facebook? After all, science says loneliness is even deadlier than obesity.

7. Staying at home longer
Senior living is great, but staying at home is even better. Nearly 75 percent of adults hope to stay in their current homes as long as possible, according to an AARP survey. And thanks to “universal design,” with features like stair-less entryways and easy-to-flip light switches, seniors can live in their homes longer than ever. (Check out these other ways to make a home safe as you age.)

8. Better transportation
Even if they can’t drive, seniors don’t want to be stuck in the same place all day. Assisted living facilities almost always offer vans to make it easy for residents to go shopping or make a lunch date with friends, without feeling guilty about asking for a ride. Find out how to tell if your loved one should stop driving.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest