Renovations to meet the changing needs of very different generations

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Aaron Hargett
Aaron Hargett

The senior living industry must have a change-driven spirit and attitude just like any other industry to keep up with the constant transitions of its industry.

The philosophical makeup of consumers changes, technology changes, trends come and go and people expect different things. If cell phone companies did not offer smartphones or the latest trends in their industry, then consumers would take their business to other carriers that offer what consumers want. When Blockbuster did not offer $1 rentals, they were pushed to closure by Redbox.

It is imperative to stay relevant and evolve with your consumers. For that reason, our team at Baptist Retirement Community is always looking for ways to address the varying needs of different generations of consumers. Right now, we are at a crossroads, and we have a significant question we must tackle. How do we effectively meet the needs of two different groups of seniors?

On one hand, we have the Depression-era generation, and on the other, we have the baby boomers. Each generation has completely different philosophical makeups, different needs, different wants and even different ways of living life.

Members of the Depression-era generation collectively have been profiled to be a generation that is more frugal with their money, modest with material possessions and humble about their accomplishments, with a tendency to not want to burden people around them. Members of the baby boomer generation, however, are known to showcase more of their prosperity, enjoy having a variety of choices, research important purchases, have higher expectations for material possessions, tend to be more physically active and are more outspoken with their needs and wants.

Many members of the Depression-era generation have come to our community to settle down after years of work and service. They continue to stay active and involved on the campus and in the community, however, through participation in community group social events and volunteer work. Many leading-edge members of the boomer generation, by contrast, are using their new retirement freedom to cultivate their independent spirits. They remain actively involved in many things outside of our community. Just because they are almost in their 70s does not mean they are done experiencing what the world has to offer. BRC as a community and as an organization strives to foster an environment conducive to those variable generational expectations.

How does a community such as Baptist Retirement Community, which was built and expanded on in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, reposition itself to pique the interests of younger generations of seniors? We have started doing total renovations on homes and apartments within our community to tailor them to the boomer generation. We learn so much from listening to the ideas of current and prospective residents. A total renovation can include replacing everything except the sheetrock. It can include replacing the interior and exterior doors; scraping off the popcorn ceilings and retexturing them; gutting bathrooms to sometimes remove bathtubs and replacing them with showers and toilets to meet healthcare standards; upgrading cabinetry, countertops and flooring; and adding more light fixtures and ceiling fans. We have made homes and apartments energy-efficient and have included back porches for leisure.

Some of the houses are turned with minimal renovations to make them appealing and customizable for prospective residents, whereas others involve depositors who are able to be a part of the process and provide input for flooring, cabinetry, counters, fixtures and more. We always can customize the homes though, even if we already have renovated them. You can make your community relevant and up-to-date without tearing it down and starting from scratch.

It's a challenging yet exciting time for change. I am eager to see where the future takes the senior living industry and see what possibilities unfold.

Aaron Hargett is the independent living director for Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo, TX.

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