Senior Living Communities Doing it Right

A husband and wife sitting on a bench with their granddaughter

You’ve heard the familiar refrain that senior living communities need to cater to an incoming group of residents that’s “always done things differently.” Now is the time for forward-thinking communities to seize upon this new direction and provide the amenities that will attract and retain residents for years to come. It’s also the time to market them so that prospects see the changes. 

As the industry shifts, compelling updates will benefit residents and their senior living communities alike. The best senior living communities are embracing this transformation now. Here are some communities across the country that are leveraging new strategies to meet and exceed the needs of the next generation.

Going Boutique

Senior living communities that understand prospects’ desires are fashioning both their spaces and style of service to be more “boutique.” While they remain focused on resident health, their style trends more hospitality than healthcare. Avanti Senior Living, a senior assisted living community in Cypress, Texas near Houston, is beautifully decorated and resembles an upscale hotel. With the tagline “We Are Making Senior Housing Sexy,” the management team recognizes that incoming residents are increasing the bar on their standards. 

To this end, they provide a number of upscale amenities, including a sleek salon, indulgent massages, and a bevy of enticing exercise classes. They’re a huge hit—one resident was recently crowned “Fitness Resident of the Month” for completing 83 classes in one month, which works out to several per day. She’s 89 years old. 

Avanti provides other thoughtful touches that attract newer residents. They host a popular residential happy hour every day at 4pm for residents to unwind and connect. They also provide iPads which feature easy-to-operate larger buttons. They focus on food that’s served up beautifully in beautiful spaces. The cuisine is far more restaurant than cafeteria, with special attention to the variety, quality, quantity, and choice of meals.

Drawing People Together

In Pasadena, California, Front Porch CCRC Villa Gardens is also harnessing a new trend, though it’s been standard procedure for them since their inception. Founded as a home for retired teachers in the 1930s, Villa Gardens is known for its specialization. Dmitry Estrin, Executive Director, says, “I always refer to Villa as an intellectual mecca of Pasadena.” As other senior living communities try to draw residents in with specialization, it’s built in here. Nearly one third of the 200 Villa Gardens residents are connected to the field of education, either as retired professors, teachers, or others. 

Villa Gardens maintains a robust library to serve them. Not only does it help nurture residents’ quest for  lifelong learning, but it provides chances to connect with other residents. The community fosters a wide-range of educational activities that are led by residents. From lectures to research projects to children’s summer camps, these opportunities let residents pursue their passions, even after retirement. They’re meaningful continuations that create strong bonds among residents as well as with the greater community.

In a similar way, Meta Housing, a Los Angeles based developer, partnered with the non-profit EngAGE’s arts and wellness program for their “artist colony projects.” These provide residents with opportunities to draw, paint, write, or perform. The programs build strong connections, a real sense of purpose, and greater overall health. Tim Carpenter, founder and CEO of EngAGE, says, “Retirement has a lot of different faces now, like encore careers and volunteerism. The longer you create things, and have access to those programs and activities, the better health outcomes you have.”

Upgrading Technology

In addition to catering to the more aspirational needs of this next generation, many senior living communities are addressing more basic security needs through upgraded technology systems. Lifespace Communities’ Abbey Delray community is in Delray Beach, Florida. When renovating for new Assisted Living and Memory Care apartments and suites, a clubhouse, a performing arts center, dining venues, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an upgraded salon and spa, they enlisted Direct Supply to update their technology for greater efficiency and also to protect and enhance their residents’ experience.

The companies orchestrated a unique integration of access control with video surveillance, intercoms and an advanced wander management system. The design allows the system to keep staff notified of issues through wireless devices. They also increased Wi-Fi coverage to accommodate greater use and also power care providers’ handheld emergency communication devices. 

In the performing arts center, the team installed microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, assistive listening and line array loudspeakers for live or recorded audio. This system supports banquets, bingo, guest speakers, and stage performances for a more robust experience. A hearing loop system under the carpet amplifies sound for those wearing hearing aids, and it also works with receivers that guests can use. “The renovation and new technology systems have allowed us to provide more specialized care, which is in high demand,” says Amin Sanaia, executive director of the senior living community. With recent technology upgrades, the community is more attractive to prospects that expect a certain level of sophistication.

These senior living communities know how to welcome the next generation by  accommodating their specific needs through hospitality-focused updates, meaningful activities, and technology updates that attract and retain a generation seeking to do things differently. Now is the time to get ready.