Take a Look at Today’s Senior Independent Living

By: VGFS
Monday, September 30, 2019

Today’s senior living communities are undergoing some amazing positive transformations. Gone are the days where the elderly were shuffled off to live in dark, depressing nursing homes.

Baby Boomers are now reaching retirement age at an unprecedented rate and they’re changing the face of senior living. In fact, the ranks of those age 65 and older are swelling by the thousands every day, so it’s not surprising that retirement communities are shifting rapidly in order to cater to this influential demographic. For today’s mature adults, retirement means new opportunities to enjoy freedom and independence.

Here are some of the clever trends that are changing the definition of senior living facilities.

Customized designs. With AARP reporting that a staggering 90 percent of today’s seniors want to age in place, comfort, style and a homey atmosphere are at the top of the list when for those checking out a potential residence at an independent or assisted living community. This means drab, sterile environments and cookie-cutter designs have to go. To help seniors retain a sense of independence and provide a comfortable living space they can make their own, many communities are now offering a variety of floor plans and allow residents to choose certain design aspects, such as countertops, paint colors, flooring and cabinetry.

Space for hobbies.  Newer senior housing projects are adding interior common areas for residents to pursue their hobbies and interests. There’s been an explosion in amenities such as woodshops, arts and crafts rooms, and spas. When research revealed that many men would miss tinkering in their garages, a senior apartment community in Texas decided to design a hobby and craft studio resembling a suburban residential garage. Adorned with workbenches, tools, automotive logos, tables and chairs, and even an adjoining patio, the garage has become a popular hangout among residents. At the Burbank Senior Arts Colony complex near Hollywood, the hallways are a rotating gallery, multiple studios are available for residents, a theater occupies the ground floor, and an elaborate sculpture garden sits in the rear courtyard.

Distinctive amenities. Located near Portland, Oregon, the Burnside is an award winning senior community that lies several miles from downtown. Because sought-after amenities were lacking in the area, the forward-thinking developer added a first-floor retail space that includes a café, convenience store, clothier, bookstore, pharmacy, hair salon, and a large patio that’s ideal for socializing. These businesses add a layer of “home” and enhance the feeling that residents live in a community, not just a basic senior facility.

Progressive memory care solutions.  As seniors live longer, they are more likely to experience cognitive disabilities. As a result, many senior housing projects are increasingly focused on providing suitable memory care units for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In the past, memory care units were often dismal, claustrophobic spaces, but today’s environments include increased window sizes for natural light filtration and a variety of concealed advanced safety features to keep patients from wandering off the grounds. Designers are also taking into account the “sundowning effect”—the agitation that dementia sufferers often experience at sunset. Large windows can induce this unrest, so adjustable shades and lighting are used creatively to mitigate the impact.

Plentiful dining options. For modern-day seniors, the dining experience extends far beyond the stereotypical buffets and frozen dinners. Senior citizen homes are quickly realizing that their residents want higher quality food and more dining options. Many of them are now offering upscale dining experiences, complete with gourmet chefs and extensive menu choices. And whether it’s a social coffee hour in the morning or an afternoon happy hour complete with music and games, a growing number of senior communities also offer an abundance of social dining opportunities.

A focus on fitness. Staying healthy and fit is a priority for much of today’s mature population. They seek out communities that support the physical health of their residents through fitness classes and up-to-date exercise facilities. Cutting-edge workout equipment, swimming pools, well-kept walking paths, and a variety of group exercise classes are the norm for many of today’s senior living communities.

Opportunities for lifelong learning. The vast majority of seniors are looking for a vibrant lifestyle that keeps them active and engaged, both physically and mentally. In response to the growing demand for continuing education, a Quaker-inspired senior housing developer has built several senior living communities near institutions of higher learning, including Cornell University, Oberlin College, and Denison University. Residents can readily attend lectures at the nearby campuses, and numerous classes are often offered on the property, as well. At Lasell Village in Newton, Massachusetts, its 250 residents participate in hundreds of on-site courses, lectures, cultural events, and fitness classes throughout the year. Continuing to learn keeps the mind active, nurtures curiosity and creativity, and creates opportunities for intergenerational friendships to form.

Today’s seniors are staying healthier and more independent than ever before. All across the nation, smart senior community owners and operators are realizing that their potential residents don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to retirement living. Offering customizable, home-like atmospheres and plentiful opportunities for engagement, senior independent living has never been more appealing.  

If you have questions about senior living communities or are in need of resources in the area, please contact us. Our compassionate, caring team is always happy to help.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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