This generation of baby boomers is like none the world has ever seen. Based on the numbers alone, their impact on senior living cannot be underestimated. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to more than double to hit 98 million people by 2060, nearly 24% of the population. Seniors over the age of 64 compose 15% of the current population. Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation has seen the world change in so many ways and their expectations for retirement are higher than ever.
Learn more about this unique generation and their effect on senior living in America.
Who Are the Baby Boomers?
Baby Boomers are generally defined as people born between the years of 1946 and 1964, following World War II. Following the war, there was a large “boom” of babies as soldiers returned home. As the boomer generation aged, they fought for civil rights and gender equality and saw the world change as a result. Now, the boomer generation is growing up and looks pretty different than its predecessors in several ways:
- This generation is active and independent, working longer than previous generations. In 2014, 23% of men and 15% of women over the age of 65 were in the workforce and these numbers are expected to rise to 27% for men and 20% for women by 2022.
- The boomer generation is highly educated. In 1965, only 5% of people over the age of 65 held a Bachelor’s degree. By 2014, this number rose to 25%.
- They are living longer. The average life expectancy in the United States rose to 79 years old from 68 years old, with a significant reduction in mortality among seniors.
- They are wealthier than previous generations. The poverty rate for seniors over the age of 65 in the U.S. has dropped over the past 50 years from 30% in 1966 to only 10% today.
- More baby boomers are divorced than previous generations. In 1980, a mere 3% of women over the age of 65 was divorced, a number that rose to 13% by 2015. 4% of men over the age of 64 were divorced in 1980 and that number rose to 11% by 2015.
- They live alone, valuing independence. 27% of women between the ages of 65 to 74, 42% of women between the ages of 75 to 84, and 56% of women over the age of 85 lived alone in 2014.
Four Ways Baby Boomers Are Changing the Senior Living Industry
It’s clear that the world has never seen a generation like the Baby Boomers. What’s not clear is how the world will respond as this active, vibrant, educated generation gets older. Experts estimate that the boomer generation will bring a 75% increase in people over the age of 65 needing senior care, to nearly 2.3 million people by 2030.
Here are four ways these boomers are changing the face of senior living.
1. An Increase in Life Plan / Continuum of Care Communities
As baby boomers come to need and want senior housing, we are seeing an increase in “age in place” or “life plan” communities. These communities provide a wide range of care services for residents ranging from hands-off independent living to assisted living services and memory care. This type of community means that residents can stay in their apartments and in their communities where they are known and loved, even as their needs change over time.
2. Options, Options, Options
This is a generation that doesn’t like to be bored. The sterile retirement communities of yesterday are gone. Baby boomers want it all and want it all in one place. In response to this generation, today’s senior living communities offer an abundance of activities, events, and opportunities – all designed to enhance the retirement experience.
3. A Focus on Technology
Baby boomers are the fastest growing online demographic. For them, wireless is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. As families move farther away from each other, seniors rely on the convenience of technology to stay in touch with children, grandchildren, and friends. It’s not uncommon to see seniors playing with tablets and smartphones, playing brain training games, catching up on their latest blog, or just scrolling through social media.
4. A Priority on Convenience and City Living
The boomer generation certainly places a high value on convenience and retirees are looking for senior living communities in the heart of it all. They want easy access to healthcare, shopping, dining, cultural events, and more.
The baby boomer generation shattered the glass ceiling in a lot of ways for a lot of people and now, it appears, they are taking on what it means to age in America. How have you seen the boomer generation change senior living?