I was not surprised to read in one of my links to senior housing news that they know they have an image problem.  A senior housing executive was seated next to someone on a plane who declared they would rather be taken out in the woods and eaten by wolves when they were old than go to a nursing home. He of course tried to dissuade that negative image with all the glorious changes going on to meet the ‘tastes” of the rising boomer population. 

For the not so young anymore crowd they may be relying solely on past experiences of visiting elderly relatives in skilled nursing facilities. Those stark images tend to stick in your mind. Plus there has been a good share of poor press including the truth about low staffing ratios in some facilities.

The fiscal truth is that they are not building as many traditional nursing homes.  The emphasis is on the assisted living level of care. Why?  I would venture a guess that better occupancy rates bring better return on investment.  Residents can stay longer in an assisted living level of care that can augment services to keep them somewhat independent. Thankfully, there has been an increase in coordination between hospitals and facilities so that residents actually return to where they were. I have even heard Senior housing administrators talking about this as residents are skipping over the skilled nursing level – figure that one out. 

It could also have something to do with the price tag of one being more than twice the other. Who can afford the $89,000-104,000 annual average cost of skilled care. This is not to say that many residents and their families would check off the first box and say skilled nursing was the best for their circumstances. 

And then there is ever evolving new world of  upscale retirement communities.  The marketing people are beating each other over the head to attract the wave of boomers that they have calculated are ready to give up the homestead and flock to the magical mixed development that allows a walk-able life style to neat activities and amenities. Having a Sous chef and your own pickle ball court are hot amenities right now.

Somewhere close by there may be an assisted living unit for the downward slope. They are working very hard to draw a crowd that keeps saying they are not there yet. Colorful parrots aside, not everyone wants to play golf and drink in rock and roll heaven as a life style. 

Maybe with all this competition to capture the market they will invent a housing community that has a better price tag for those who do want to go that route. As there is an affordable housing crisis nationwide, do not bet on that happening in the immediate future. Solutions of the best variety will have to come from individuals and community groups who know already where they want to be and how they want to live.