America is graying, and it’s only going to go grayer. The Baby Boomer generation, generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, is marching toward retirement in droves, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2050, 83.7 million of us will be 65 and older. This is requiring, and inspiring, huge changes in many areas related to providing affordable, high-quality later life care in the United States. Here are a few of the most exciting shifts in the senior care landscape.
Technology is Thriving
Did you know you can attach a GPS tracker to Mom’s clothing that will let you know her exact location and alert you if she wanders outside of a specific geographical range? What a benefit for caregivers of seniors with dementia. In-home medication dispensing systems remind Mom to take her meds, dispense them, ensure that she complies, and alert you if she is about to miss a dose. Numerous smartphone and tablet apps monitor vital signs, issue medication reminders, provide medical records, and transfer information to the doctor.
The Honor System Is Set to Revolutionize In-Home Care
Honor, the Match.com of in-home caregiving, is about to rock the home health care world. With more seniors hoping to remain in their homes for longer periods, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 70 percent increase in the need for home health and personal care aides over the coming decade.
Currently, many of the 1.5 million workers who help seniors perform daily care activities are independent contractors who work for themselves or for an agency. The average pay is only $9.50 an hour, resulting in large turnover and poor quality of care.
Honor is an online marketplace in which caregivers will use profiles that detail their skills and qualifications, and seniors will specify the type of help they need, the hours required, and important personal details. Honor will match caregivers and seniors, subject to final approval by the seniors and their families. Honor’s hourly pay rate is $15 for caregivers. Seniors receive a touchscreen appliance on which they can update changes in their needs or condition, which provides the caregiver with advanced notice before arrival.
Multigenerational and Cooperative Housing Is Gaining Popularity
Seniors who can’t afford a community or who prefer family to strangers are exploring multigenerational housing options with their families. Resources are pooled, and either the existing home is modified to accommodate everyone, or a new residence is purchased that works for young and old.
Senior co-housing is a throwback to the days of the commune. Residents live in their own homes but share communal space, such as a garden, dining room, and recreational areas. Decisions are made through consensus, and there are usually shared duties.
Senior Care Communities Will Become Popular Choices
A recent panel of CEOs at the annual ALFA’s Senior Living Executive conference affirmed that senior living facilities and communities will become an increasingly more popular and logical choice for Baby Boomers, their parents, and, later down the road, their children. Eco-friendly housing, “smart homes,” and upgraded assisted living amenities, in areas such as dining and fitness, are all on the horizon.
Senior Living Will Provide New Career Paths
Millennials and Generation Z professionals prioritize altruism, as a rule. The chance to build a rewarding lifelong career in the health care, finance, asset management, food service, or sales and marketing industries—all expected to enjoy tremendous growth thanks to the senior population—is appealing.
Senior-Centric Civic Planning Is on the Rise
Many active retirees choose to continue working and prefer to be within close proximity to a city’s downtown area or commercial district. Seniors with limited mobility, or those who lack access to a car, also enjoy the amenities of a thriving town center. Community planners will continue to have an eye focused on incorporating the needs of seniors in public spaces, neighborhoods, and downtown housing.
With all of the advances and constant innovations in senior care that make growing older less work and more fun, there’s probably never been a better time to be 65 and older!