Baby Boomers and Solo Agers will eventually need help with primary activities of life, and when they cannot do it themselves or in the care of family, they’ll need it from an assisted-living facility or outside caregiver.
Family members are in shorter supply and the rate of caregivers to care recipients is falling and anticipated to do so for the next four decades. Are retirement communities prepared for solo agers and baby boomers?
What is a solo ager?
A Solo Ager is aging without the support or help of a spouse and has adult children who live more than a 7-hour drive away or does not have children. Most of us know, baby boomers encompasses the generation born between 1946 and 1964.
Solo ager concerns
If solo agers continue to age independently in their home, numerous problems can arise including loneliness, isolation, fraud and scams, problems managing nutrition, medicine, illnesses, and injuries. Solo agers will need assisted living of some type. However, it will be difficult for them to locate a quality assisted living community, contact a realtor, make any necessary improvements, sell their existing home, pack their belongings, sell and donate items they won’t be able to keep and hire a mover. Relocation is difficult for anybody, but without a spouse or any adult children to assist, this becomes even more stressful and challenging.
Solo Agers want to stay independent, and this is going to be a tough transition for them. They are accustomed to doing “what they want – when they want – and how they want.”
Baby boomers often have spouses or children to lean on, ask questions, help manage life, and assist through these transitions.
What can be done to accommodate solo agers and baby boomers?
Developers need to build assisted living facilities with lots of shared spaces and indoor and outdoor areas.
Set up numerous small seating arrangements where small groups of people can gather for intimate conversations.
Use a lively color scheme that is upscale, clean, and strong.
Create wings where friends could live next door to each other just like in a desirable neighborhood.
Create comfortable living units that can be shared by friends in a roommate situation so they can share expenses and life. Make it more comfortable and just as enjoyable as their first apartment or townhome they shared during college or their early career years.
Offer more financing options to make senior living facilities more accessible to those who haven’t been able to earn enough, save enough, or experienced unexpected setbacks.
Provide residents with opportunities for making the community theirs by making decisions that impact the community and assisting in management.
Time outdoors, walking, and nature has been proven to be beneficial so be sure there are spaces for gardening and walking trails.
Create a common area kitchen where meals can be prepared together.
Provide spaces for cultural events and gatherings.
Locate and build near or in partnership with universities, colleges, a teaching hospital or medical center.
Operators and managers of assisted living facilities need to do their best to help solo agers and baby boomers by
Providing an atmosphere of respect and connection. Each employee needs to be treated well as that is how they will address the residents.
Offering a lifelong learning environment filled with intentional activities to stimulate the brain such as book clubs, field trips, game nights, and cultural events.
Providing as many well-staffed opportunities as possible to go outside, for a walk or participate in an outdoor activity for anyone who is able.
Encouraging connection, engagement and meaningful relationships between staff and residents.
Providing services in the assisted living community with visiting or onsite legal advisors, financial advisors, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists.
Providing opportunities for residents to volunteer when they can participate in the community.
Remembering to require that each resident has a will, an estate plan, and a health care directive and that it is all updated every three years.
Realizing a lot of control has been lost, and this generation is going to appreciate choices. Let residents make as many decisions as possible for their daily activities, schedule, and routine.
Solo ager essentials
It is essential for solo agers to arrange future legal guardianship for themselves and assign an individual who will take over in a fiduciary capacity if they cannot make decisions for themselves. The designated person could be a relative, friend, private guardian or professional fiduciary. This should be put in place before it is needed as there is no adult child or spouse to assist. Baby boomers typically have a spouse or adult child to assist them through this process.
Loyal Solo Agers
While most retirement communities aren’t currently prepared for baby boomers and solo agers, those who make adjustments or build new facilities are going to win in this competitive market. Solo Boomers without family nearby are creating competition for their dollars and loyalty with developers and operators of senior living facilities. The developers and managers who start targeting solo agers and baby boomers early and provide them with a comfortable living environment and an appealing marketing strategy will get their loyalty.