As mentioned in a previous post, I recently attended a two-day Seniors Housing Leaders Symposium in Toronto. Speakers and participants combined for decades of experience across all facets of the seniors housing industry. Below are five seniors housing trends I believe will impact the industry:
Technology: This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as tech has been disrupting every industry imaginable in some way or another. In the seniors housing space, technology is enabling people to live independently longer and with more ease. On the extreme side we’re talking about robots that prepare, cook, and clean up gourmet meals with the push of a button. Day-to-day, voice controlled automation that can control lights, door locks, televisions, blinds, etc. all make life a little easier. Another very interesting device I discovered is called “The Human Charger”. Designed to help users adjust to time changes and reduce jet lag while travelling, there is data to support it can help people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia sleep better by keeping their circadian rhythm in check.
Proactive Healthcare Approach: Historically, humans have taken a defensive approach to their health. By this, I mean you go about your life until something goes wrong and then you seek out a solution; usually by visiting a doctor. Proactive healthcare puts you on the offence and helps increase the odds of living a healthier, longer life. To give you an example, our latest development incorporates a wellness centre allowing residents to meet with nutritionists and other specialized staff to custom tailor diet, exercise, and / or necessary supplements. The goal is to catch deficiencies ahead of time and ultimately reduce illness while staying healthier for longer.
Suite Construction: Seniors residences used to look very similar; a hotel or bachelor style layout with everything in one room. Newer residences are popping up that are designed similar to condos offering separate bedrooms, full size kitchens, balconies, and luxury finishes throughout while being fully accessible to residents with mobility issues. In fact, if you didn’t know you were in a seniors residence, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.
Co-Sharing: Let’s face it – retirement is expensive and not everyone can afford a luxury building with all the services. One new trend is shared living. Residents get their own bedroom and bathroom but share a common area, kitchen, and nursing staff. Think of a student house but for seniors. In the US, there is a model that takes a residential house and retrofits it to enable those with Dementia to live in a smaller, more peaceful setting while providing the level of care they require at an affordable price. On top of decreased costs, co-sharing spaces also allow residents to stay social which has been directly linked to increased happiness and living longer.
Aging In Place: Nobody wants to be forced to move around from place to place as health and lifestyle requirements change. Aging in place is a concept which allows people to live independently and add various levels of care as their needs change. Referring to our latest development, the top floors are designed for someone that is capable of performing most activities on their own. Assistance with anything from laundry to food preparation to housekeeping can simply be added to services they receive. As they require more extensive care such as nursing, medication management, etc, they relocate to a floor that is best suited to handle that. This way, residents keep their sense of community, see the same familiar faces, and aren’t forced to learn the nuances of a totally different facility.
Cannabis (bonus #6): Still in its infant stages of mainstream consumption, the recent changes to the law in Canada and in some US states are sure to keep things interesting when it comes to marijuana and marijuana derived products. How it will be incorporated into patient care is a trend I’m curious to watch in 2019.
In an industry that is constantly evolving, the above points are just a few of the changes I’m expecting to see implemented in the near future. As population and demographic trend data reveal, we’re going to need to keep evolving and improving to keep up with increasing demand. I personally believe we are off to a great start!