The Rise in the Senior Housing Market
By Ana Jones - Founder, Phlex65
In recent years the family unit has become mobile, with children moving farther away from parents and aging relatives. Opportunities for jobs and housing are chief among the reasons for adult children who are either raising young families or focusing on their careers.
This has led to a gap in the support system for the elderly who find themselves living alone. In addition, the circle of friends and peers becomes smaller either because they have died or have moved in with families or to other long-term care institutions like Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, or Memory Care facilities.
Seniors who are more often alone and without family, friends, and peers are at risk for isolation and depression. Community care organizations such as Senior Day Programs and Senior Centers foster socialization with congregate meals and a number of activities to promote physical and mental health to help stave off depression. In some cases, moving to a senior living community would be ideal. Forging friendships with other senior residents through mutual activities and events is more likely to have positive outcomes.
Senior housing has become a hot topic as counties and cities scramble to find ways to meet the demands of the elderly. State and city initiatives to promote healthy aging have supported the development and construction of buildings and senior communities for this growing population of 65 years and older.
The construction of beautiful senior living facilities and communities with amenities appeals to seniors who are interested in socializing and/or living a healthy life with activities and events with people of the same age group or cohort.
Access to a number of senior housing and communities varies across the spectrum. Socio-economics is key, and the ability to pay for luxury living in Continuum Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) with state-of-the-art independent living, assisted living, and nursing care and/or subsidized housing for seniors living at or below poverty are evident across the senior housing market.
Subsidized housing for eligible seniors who are living on a fixed low income is run by cities and local agencies on aging (AoA), or private entities. The housing units range from studios to 2 bedrooms with a full bathroom, kitchen, dining, and living area. These buildings have well-lit halls, laundry areas, activity, and recreation areas that adhere to Adult with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines to accommodate seniors who are capable of living independently.
Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) are for residents who can afford to pay out of pocket to live in independent or assisted living communities. These beautifully landscaped facilities provide congregate meal plans in aesthetically pleasant dining halls and have recreation areas for activities, games, a library, or family visiting rooms. The units are designed for 1 or 2 residents and have different price ranges. Staff at the Assisted Living facilities are on hand to help with daily personal tasks from grooming, meals, medication, incontinence care, housekeeping, and reminders. Pricing packages for the different levels of care are offered at the facility to support the resident.
The Memory Care Facility is normally a part of the large Assisted Living community for residents with mild to severe cognitive impairment that needs help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) tasks like bathing, dressing, feeding, walking, and/or transferring. Staff in these locked facilities are trained to deal with the behavioral, physical, and mental issues associated with some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The Continuum Care Retirement Community (CCRCs) is the larger and more extravagant facility normally that requires a large deposit in the upper six figures and over seven-figure range to secure a unit or apartment in independent living, assisted living, memory care, or nursing care facility, depending on the resident health and the need along the continuum of living. Some CCRCs offer lavish activities, including wine tasting, health spas on-site, luxury excursions on cruises or to exotic destinations, or educational series.
The average cost for residents in Assisted Living Facilities is approximately $4300 per month, and Memory Care is at $7200 per month (Genworth, 2021). Out-of-pocket expenses begin at the base rates and increase when residents become more dependent on staff for care.
A high percentage of living communities took a hit during the pandemic as there was little to no interest from seniors to move out of their homes. Post-pandemic, the numbers are slowly rising, and vacancies are being filled with more senior housing under construction. Developers find it lucrative to build larger RCFEs and CCRCs, which have the potential for more return on their investments. Legislators and housing authorities will need to come up with incentives for developers to plan and build low-income or subsidized housing to meet the demands of the majority of the elderly population, who also need a place to live.