Guest Columns

What boomers want

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Ben Mandelbaum, Chief Operating Officer of LTC Consulting Services and Senior Planning Services
Ben Mandelbaum, Chief Operating Officer of LTC Consulting Services and Senior Planning Services

Healthcare and social assistance is already the largest industry sector in the US, which is only expected to continue to grow. It is estimated that the U.S. healthcare industry employs one in eight Americans, offers 16 million jobs, and generates about $2.7 trillion each year. As baby boomers continue to age, the demand for physicians and healthcare industry workers will at least double.

There are multiple reasons why there will be an increase need for industry services. More seniors are making a move into long-term care as a lifestyle choice, thereby taking advantage of the array of products and services available for seniors at virtually every physical state, from the healthy and active to those needing everyday assistance.

Baby boomers are more likely to live alone. Researchers from Bowling Green State University's Center for Family and Demographic Research have noted the marital trends among boomers - 33% of whom are single (58% through divorce) - and the benefits of communal living. Some of the benefit of a senior living facility that would entice single boomers are; an array of social options, amenities, and care options they wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy at home. All these result in increased health and well-being as these seniors age, many without children or partners to care for them.

For the remaining 67% of boomers who are married with families, there is much industry speculation as to whether the majority would choose aging in place over senior facility living. CCRCs are one popular option many more affluent Boomers are looking at and the possibilities it may afford them over the traditional assisted living or nursing home model, which many find unsuited to their active and young-at-heart lifestyle.

Baby boomers have increased the demand for quality and reliable facilities, and they have the funds to pay for it. In addition, seniors currently make up the largest segment of the voting public. Their Medicare and Medicaid dollars help offset the cost of long-term care. Politicians are well aware that the senior vote is an important one, which will likely lead to a necessary expansion of Medicare and Medicaid services in the coming years. This will further fuel the growth of the assisted living sector, as government back funding fuels supply.

Aging In Place

Not all seniors want to leave their home. Many boomers expect to remain healthy and active well into their 70s and beyond. This means there is a demand for houses that are designed for aging in place. As a result, housing design, home technology development, and medical services are all changing to accommodate the rising number of seniors staying home as they age.

This is also leading to a whole new era of “silver industries.” Boomers are willing to spend extra to enjoy their golden years, so new niches in elder care are opening up every day. These include, among other things;

  • Certified aging-in-place specialists. These specialists are specially trained to help seniors equip their homes and lifestyles for their new life stage, helping them stay in their homes safely and securely for as long as possible, as well as, making these homes more “visitable.”

  • Senior relocation specialists. These Senior Move Managers work exclusively with seniors by helping them through the often-difficult and traumatic issues they and their families face when downsizing and relocating to a new home.

  • Senior concierge service providers. These services are meant to provide seniors with a strong sense of family and compassion and offers anything related to companionship and socialization such as; walks, visits, and outings in the community, dining, accompanying the senior to movies, playing games, cards,  scrapbooking and reminiscing about the past.

  • Home health care agencies. These home care agencies  provide compassionate high-quality home care care with dignity, respect and compassion, making it easier for your aging loved one to stay in the familiarity and comfort of their own home.

  • Geriatric care managers. Geriatric care managers have been educated in social work, psychology, gerontology and nursing, and are trained to plan, coordinate, monitor,  provide services and advocate for seniors and their families.

  • Medicaid planning companies. Medicaid planning services are designed to assist seniors and their families achieve Medicaid-sponsored senior living and senior care coverage.

In addition to these new industries, there is a vast array of technology services for nearly every aging related need imaginable, as well. It is highly likely these consumer-directed options for aging-in-community models will continue to grow in number as the drive the demand higher still.

During the active years, these communities offer many amenities, from swimming pools and golf courses to on-site classes and clubs. It's like country club living with a plan for the future! These communities also offer a variety of housing options to meet the evolving needs of the residents as they age.

With more than 8,000 boomers turning 65 daily, healthcare reform will continue to be a cornerstone topic of today's political and economic atmosphere. This is one industry that, though changing, will not be going away any time soon.

Ben Mandelbaum is the Chief Operating Officer of LTC Consulting Services and Senior Planning Services. Follow him @SeniorPlanningS.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.