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The Future of Senior Living


Guest Post by Lisa LaMagna

Are you excited to grow up so you can move to “senior living?”

We just read another report of declining occupancy in senior living, which is 87.9%, an 8 year-low. In a booming economy, in a booming demographic, senior living “facilities” are kicked to the curb.

The industry can blame “excess capacity,” but this is a product nobody wants, at prices few can afford. Built by real estate investors (who else would call them “facilities?”), not community creators and change agents. This business is ripe for disruption.

In a business where 60% of the costs are people, it is still “buildings first.” If you mixed up the logos with the marketing photos, could you tell the difference?

I’m always dreaming of what comes after senior living. here’s what I envision:

  • Instead of white boxes for apartments, imagine community suites with numerous small transition areas.
  • Pets allowed and private outdoor yards to grow your basil.
  • The actual buildings would be constructed well at the start, instead of value-engineered.
  • The buildings would *not* all* look* alike. It might just be one building tucked into an existing neighborhood, not a grey island surrounded by a moat of grass and walls. More density, less protective space keeps it affordable.
  • I’d like to live in a neighborhood with real stores and real restaurants, not walled-off age-segregated phony “downtowns” and “cafes.” It’s “intergenerational” – which is the new word for “open to the public.”
  • Accessibility, indoors and out. Not too spread out, compact and easy to get around. I’ll probably have less square footage, but be able to rent out a “guest suite” when the kids visit or open the murphy bed.
  • Every area has an identifiable function, stepped up in vibrance so the library looks like a library. No scratch that, it’s not a library, it’s a co-working space with high-speed wifi and a maker space. Because I’ll be on my 3rd career, managing my virtual reality clothing brand.
  • And the most important hire would be the community director, who coaches a group of volunteer ambassadors. These people are connectors: building relationships, introducing you to like-minded neighbors, making sure you have someone to call with a 3 am emergency, or help setting up the BBQ.

OK, I am dreaming I know. But someone is going to crush it in whatever comes next after senior living.

What would tempt you to give up your home today?

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