Numbers always rule in the business of senior housing.  From the look of some of the more recent headlines, things are not going well. 

Seniors Housing Occupancy Rate Falls to Six-Year Low of 88.3% in First Quarter

It is all about occupancy rates.  Without 90 + percent occupancy, the return on investment is not sustainable.  A business model is a business model, but when it comes to providing care for the most vulnerable seniors it seems like a harsh reality. Again the old adage of supply and demand rules.  We as the  largest generation are supposed to be filling these communities to the rafters.  Instead there is a constant invention of new amenities and new draws to bring in the  “I would never live in a place like that” customers. 

It seems the planners of this buy into these rest of your life style communities, failed in knowing the reality of the age wave they are so eager to serve.  The money is made on the luxury level whether it be apartment, condo, or assisted living facility with sous chefs and  fully equipped gyms.  I was dismayed to see an example of a seniors only co-housing build in Berkeley where the price point was 530,000 to 750,000 for condos. Yes, there are some very fortunate boomers and seniors out there with multiple well fixed incomes that can afford this.  But we as a generation are very mixed in our income, education and support levels. 

That said, it is with a sense of irony that I must repeat another of the more surprising  headlines I have read of late.   They are not planning to build new skilled nursing facilities.  Why? the occupancy rates are really down and people are staying in assisted living longer and I am quoting a senior housing person here “skipping over  that level”  There is a marketing frenzy about  how to deal with the  stifling competition for those who can afford these services.

Meanwhile back in reality,  people and communities  are having meetings, home shows and public chit chats about what it will take to make staying in place easier for their elders. I read about them every week in small town newspapers. While it may be a grim outlook for the business of senior housing, the vibrancy of community awareness is growing brighter.

I missed the listing in time to go, but last weekend in Arlington VA, they had a home show  that was geared to the community not a commercial event: 

The goal: to educate Arlingtonians about the best ways to add value to their homes and improve their overall quality of life.

Now in its 12th year, the home show is a one-stop shop for all things related to improving and building homes including permitting, financing and choosing the right contractors. This year the show will focus on informing visitors about resilient remodeling — making sure a whole home is resilient to major weather disruptions.

The free, family-friendly event will include 16 workshops covering a wide spectrum of topics, including Accessory Dwellings (ADUs), Energy Efficiency, Universal Design and Aging in Place, and will feature more than 65 exhibitors, including local builders, designers, master gardeners and more.  In celebration of the 50 years of the Fair Housing Act the Show will offer a special Fair Housing Seminar for Condominiums.

Attendees can also discuss their home improvement or building plans with representatives from a number of Arlington County agencies, who will be available for one-to-one consultation.


NOW that is headline/story I care to read about – making it real for the age wave.