Which Senior Living Amenities Will Attract The Boomer Generation?

by | Oct 15, 2021

Guest article by Michael J. Martin, AIA, Partner, RLPS Architects 

As the senior living field continues to evolve to meet the incoming influx of boomers, a key question is, “What amenities will our communities need to offer to attract the boomer generation?” Will they be the same as what we offer today, or something quite different?

Currently aged 57 to 75 years, boomers are just beginning to enter the senior living space as residents, and many have past (or current) experience as adult children with parents residing in senior living or long-term care. These boomers may hold bygone beliefs about senior living based on their exposure to more dated, institutional models that lack the life-enriching offerings at many communities today. Providers must continually advance their amenity packages, based on changing interests, hobbies and trends, to remain relevant in today’s market and attract future prospects. 

Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen pickleball courts, movie theaters, fire pits, golf simulators, smart home technology and more introduced into senior living communities. New technology in dining (with colored lighting and digital picture frames) is now being used to transform the look and feel of dining venues from afternoon to evening ambiance. Communities have even added bowling alleys and video game arcades to become more family friendly.

What will be the most sought-after amenities in the future? At RLPS, as we have been working with our clients on plans for new or expanding communities, we have been seeing many new ideas.  

Wellness amenities on the table include spin bike rooms, rock climbing walls, miniature golf courses, labyrinths, kayaks and canoes, and bike-sharing programs. The continued evolution of dining includes chef’s tables, cooking classes, pop-up dining venues and wine bars and wine cellars. Dog grooming stations, music practice rooms, metal sculpting spaces, rooftop lounges and even foosball are other concepts being explored for incorporation into senior living communities. 

While social distancing remains a priority, there has been renewed interest in activating outdoor spaces that provide opportunities to gather safely in small groups. The use of these spaces can expand when incorporating shade, fans and heating elements. Current surveys of residents, staff and prospects point to the need for comfortable visitation rooms in controllable locations, typically near the front door, as well as outdoor options for dining, exercise and entertainment. Multi-purpose outdoor spaces may be adapted to offer group exercise classes, film screenings, happy hours and more. 

senior living amenities at Willow Valley Communities

The Chautauqua Hall event pavilion combines Amish construction details, unique to the area, and state-of-the-art technology to host varied functions at Willow Valley Communities. The four-season building also offers a raised platform, green room and dance floor, small scale commercial kitchen and bar, outdoor fireplace and grill, and operable garage doors that provide patio access for open-air events.

A 360-degree rooftop terrace offers casual seating areas, fire tables and a bar atop luxury apartments at Willow Valley Communities

At larger communities, we are developing event spaces that can be used by the community or by outside groups. An example is Chautauqua Hall at Willow Valley Communities in Lancaster.

Regardless of exactly what the next generation of amenities may include, what is clear is that we absolutely must continue reinventing what a Life Plan Community is in order to stay relevant to the next generation of consumers. 

For more articles covering senior housing trends and how providers must adapt to them to continue fulfilling their missions, click here. To download Love & Company’s brand-new white paper, “Senior Housing Trends: 2021,” click here.

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