As the baby boomer generation approaches retirement, new trends for residential and healthcare services emerge. The assisted living industry is affected by these changes dramatically. Everything is changing from the technology used in the industry to the attitudes of consumers.

The housing and healthcare industry must address the situation at hand. Many companies are trying to figure out just how to provide services to meet the changing demands of seniors. Businesses and consumers need to meet in the middle to balance out funding and service issues. This article discusses recent trends in assisted living communities around the United States.
Community Trends

The world is much more open and connected than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Say goodbye to the days of segregated senior living. Boomers are active people who need community support. It’s important today more than ever that seniors in assisted living have ties to the outside world.

Their needs include educational resources, volunteer programs and social interaction. Below are some requirements that are now par for the course at assisted living facilities across the country.

· Community Centers

· Libraries

· Activity Programs

· Entertainment – dining, shopping etc.

· On-site Banking

· Postal Service

· Educational Opportunities

· Physician Services

· Health and Wellness Programs

· Clinical Therapy

· Fitness Programs

· Physical Education

· Rehab Therapy

The majority of seniors in assisted living are looking for good health and active lifestyles. There is no shortage of health and wellness programs available, including:

· Aquatic Therapy

· Weight Training

· Nutrition Classes

· Access to an Onsite Physician

· Meditation like Tai Chi, Yoga or Walking

· Recreation and Sports Facilities

Design Trends

The latest trends in senior housing are harder to pin down than social and economic changes. These trends vary quite a bit, since there are many different preferences among the retired population. Fixtures in the community like wellness centers and social programs create new and exciting environments for senior living.

Providers can gain from offering residents the programs and accommodations they desire. In addition to increased revenue, assisted living communities will flourish and benefit more people. Elements that drive change in senior housing include dining, new technology, social convention, educational programs, community participation and social integration. Design trends revolve around building open, accessible communities where seniors can be independent.
Hospitality and Lifestyle Trends

Institutional living is long gone. Across the country, assisted living facilities are stepping up. Hospitality is becoming more and more commonplace. Boomers are known for spending plenty of time on their hobbies in relation to previous generations. Housing providers are shifting their priorities by making sure there are plenty of amenities that provide leisure. This includes:

· Designs that cater to imaginative environments

· Larger living spaces and more amenities

· High quality dining, cyber cafes, pubs and a wider variety of healthy foods

· Internet access

· Cultural centers

· Lifelong learning programs

· Artistic programs

· Intergenerational fraternization
How Mixing Generations Helps

Instead of letting all their knowledge sit on the shelf, seniors can mentor younger people. This helps create a more inspiring, dynamic community. Programs that include seniors and younger generations can strengthen the community at large and inspire cooperation. Through these types of programs walls can be broken down. Stereotypes can be reassessed and rewarding relationships can be forged.

Programs that mix generations not only help people on a personal level, it gives housing providers another way to generate revenue and support their community. Some programs that have been gaining popularity are:

· Day care programs that provide activities for seniors and children to share

· School programs in the facilities

· Planning for joint youth/senior centers

· Integrating the community and sharing ideas