Baby boomers demand new products in LTC
Our industry will be different as baby boomers age. This population is not taking aging lightly. Many of them are already helping their aging parents cope with the changes that come later in life, and they're vowing that by the time they get to that stage, things are going to be different.
Already, that commitment to change is appearing in nursing homes. Person-centered care, resident-directed care, and self-directed, relationship-based life are all complex terms that mean one thing: seniors are taking command of their own care, demanding dignity and respect. Many facilities are changing the reality of what life looks like for senior citizens. The entire nursing home industry is changing — and most seniors consider that an excellent shift.
According to my company, Senior Planning Services, a NJ-based LTC Medicaid planning company, the following products and services are, and will continue, to disrupt the SNF Industry.
- Elder-Friendly Urban Communities: Many seniors are choosing to live in separate homes, maintaining their independence and their preferred lifestyle while sharing a sense of community and helping one another. These elder-friendly communities are designed to allow seniors to help care for one another. They're envisioned with a focus on what each individual can do to help the others around them.
- Person-Centric Care: Elderly individuals are still people even as their physical and mental capability fades. The person-centric care/household model focuses on the whole individual, not just on their medical concerns. It allows seniors to continue with dignity and to feel as though they are still living in a household, not just being cared for in a hospital-like setting.
- The Green House Project: The Green House Project turns the concept of institutional care upside down. Instead, it nurtures relationships between caregivers and the elderly individuals in the homes. It's a family-like experience, from the communal dining room to the private master suites. Each Green House is designed to provide a home for around 10-12 people who share communal space and live in community with one another.
- Smaller Is Better: Who says elderly individuals have to stay in the huge homes they needed to raise their families? Many seniors are choosing to let their children take over hosting for the holidays. Instead, they're moving into smaller spaces that they can care for more easily on their own.
- Better Bathrooms: The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for mobility-challenged seniors. Thankfully, technology is quickly catching up to that need. From wheelchair-friendly designs to non-skid flooring and appropriately-placed grab bars, redesigned bathrooms are making it easier for seniors to age in place.
- Lighted Grab Bars: The middle of the night is the worst time for a fall. Seniors are off balance and can't see where those grab bars are! Lighted grab bars make it easier to find that important support when it's needed most.
- Better Ceiling Lifts: Today's ceiling lifts are more reliable, comfortable, and responsive than ever before. No jerky starts and stops. Ergonomic controls that are intuitive and easy to use. Even better, the safety features are exceptional.
- Eliminating the Med Cart and the Nursing Station: The med cart and the nursing station really add to the feeling of isolation and the idea that seniors are living in a hospital. By finding friendlier ways to handle the same needs, it's possible to foster relationships and create a better environment for everyone.
- Access to Technology: Today's seniors want access to the internet. They know how to use smart phones, tablets, and computers, and they expect that kind of access in their communities. This continuing access is becoming an expected part of elder care.
- After-School Programs: There's nothing that keeps you young quite like being surrounded by young people. Many senior living centers and communities are creating programs that bring seniors into contact with kids, from tutoring and playing to simply interacting together.
The culture is changing. It's not moving at a rapid pace, but it's certainly creating significant change that many boomers can expect to enjoy. The nursing homes of the past were staff-centric institutions that gave little concern for the patient. Now, seniors are taking control back and showing the world that they expect higher-quality care.
Ben Mandelbaum is chief operating officer of LTC Consulting Services and Senior Planning Services, with offices in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.