Baby Boomers DemandingMore in Senior Housing
Healthier senior populations are dictating a change in the facilities in which they choose to live as they age and require more care. Skilled nursing and memory care are taking the place of traditional nursing homes according to the experts at Bisnow’s annual DFW senior housing event on Thursday.
Senior Quality Lifestyles CEO Charlie Brewer (right, with D2 Architecture president David Dillard) says people are living longer and making wellness a big component of their lifestyles. But, the biggest change he sees is their dining choices. About 20 years ago, they wanted a large dining room like a country club. Today, they like small venues with lots of choices and changes of menu. The company’s first project, Edgemere (in Dallas) is in the midst of a $36M renovation, including adding new dining options and a bar and lounge.
Buckner Retirement Services SVP Charlie Wilson (between Winstead’s Andrea Hight and Kristen Sherwin) says he anticipates more demands in the next 10 years as Baby Boomers come into the facilities. In the past, the World War II generation was just happy with a place to live. However, seniors today have greater expectations and are more discerning, he says. He expects that will continue, so Buckner has brought in hospitality experts to improve service at its seven communities across Texas. They’ve added wellness centers, pools, massage tables to create an experience for the residents. They can pick and choose options instead of a one-size-fits-all environment. Buckner also created home-like clusters for residents where they can sleep-in and eat breakfast when they want.
Rogers-O’Brien SVP John Carver (left, with SRP Medical’s Jason Young) moderated the panel discussion. The former hospital exec says demand for senior living has grown significantly and about 10% to 15% of the firm’s business is healthcare and senior living space.
Assisted living and memory care facilities are the more recession resilient kinds of senior housing because they are need-driven, says Silverstone Healthcare Co president Tom Dwyer (left, with Michelle Meredith & Associates’ Michelle Meredith). Those are also highly dependent upon a good operator, he says. Get the best and then build a model around it. Assisted living and memory care communities are often sold to the adult child (usually a daughter around 54 to 60 years old) rather than a resident, Tom says. Finding good sites is important and he’s seeing facilities moving more toward infill sites as core areas. It’s also not unusual to see pet-friendly facilities with dog parks.
Prevarian Senior Living managing principal Allan Brown says the industry has evolved in the past 20 years ago in many ways, including location. Previously, owners would build anywhere they had land. Today, traffic visibility is important as well as making the facility on the way to work for those adult children who want easy access to visit their parents. As the adult children are often the ones making the choices for their parents, Allan says there is a move toward more hospitality-like amenities and finishes. There’s a focus on a consistent model with security like interior courtyards, better food quality, and spiritual and social aspects, Allan says.
Panelists David, Allan, Tom and our moderator, Norton Rose Fulbright senior associate Jarrett Reed. David says there isn't one applicable design trend for senior housing projects. He compared it to trying to describe a tree. However, he says there is a trend of creating plug-and-play concepts like set designers, so the facility is ready often before the owner knows how it will operate. The consistent driver is fresh and updated looks being demanded by the adult children looking for a place for their folks, David says. Many assisted living facilities, in particular, are right off the highway near restaurants, retail and other services so if mom is taking her 15-year-old to see grandma, they can take her to dinner at the nearby shopping center, David says.