The Rewirement of Retirement Communities

by Jeff Weiss

Five years ago I wrote a piece titled “The Evolution of Retirement Communities” in which I proposed several alternatives to traditional golf communities and active living communities like The Villages and Margaritaville. These are places where Active Agers could live and enjoy life doing the things they love doing most with similar-minded people.

While there have been some new and creative approaches to senior living communities over the past five years, the challenges facing the industry will likely force many developers and operators to reconsider their approach to new and existing properties.

In conjunction with The International Council on Active Aging, Age of Majority conducted a joint study to capture and profile the perspectives of those working within the senior living industry as well as older adults who can be considered potential residents/customers. The intent was to better understand how well current industry offerings align with customer needs and expectations with an eye to identifying areas of opportunity for possible industry action.

The results of the study were eye-opening and clearly show the gap that exists between the perception of those working within the senior living industry, who see their environments as positive, fun, healthy, entertaining and vibrant, and those of adults 40+ (potential residents) who are more likely to see senior living environments as old, depressing, safe and boring. The full report can be downloaded here.

The findings got me thinking about opportunities for new “senior living” developments and potentially branded and/or themed communities that might appeal to some older adults today. Following is a list of a few such potential communities:

Pickleball Haven – If you live and breathe pickleball, this community is for you! Start your day off with an energizing smoothie followed by a workout that will improve your strength, balance and hand-eye coordination. Follow that up with training from a certified pickleball coach and an afternoon of competitive play followed by a tasty and healthy dinner with friends.

Camp 2.0 – If you loved going to camp as a kid, you will love this community. Imagine recreating the experience of summer camp as a child and doing all of those activities again as an adult. Participate in everything from scavenger hunts and cookouts to theater performances and hiking. Choose your accommodation to fit your personal preference – from your own unit to a shared space with other campers.

The Literary Lane – This community is designed for older adults who love to read and/or write. Think of it as a full-time book club with a chance to read and discuss a wide variety of books across many different literary genres. And for any budding writers in the community, there is no shortage of coaching and tools to help the writing process.

If you are developing a new community or operating one that requires a new vision, contact me and we can help you uncover unmet needs that will provide a foundation for industry-leading innovation.

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