businessman looking at trending arrows

(Credit: Teera Konakan / Getty Images)

Increasing consumer demand, outside investment, reengineering of traditional models, and financial and staffing pressure on existing senior living operators are changing the industry, according to experts.

SeniorTrade recently released its Top 10 Trend Report, based on 100 interviews and feedback from an advisory board. 

SeniorTrade Media founder Nancy Griffin noted that senior living is “ripe for change and growth.” According to the report, the reinvention of creative senior living communities and disruptions from new entrants into the field will create new definitions for a growing population “who want to live better, longer.” 

“We see a blending of industries that will redefine outdated terms like senior living and aging-in-place, and embrace the integration of multiple generations, income levels and affinities to create the kind of community that is proven to add years to your life, and life to your years,” Griffin wrote in the report.

According to SeniorTrade, the top 10 trends are:

  1. Aging in the right place will elevate well-being, promote a sense of purpose and facilitate social connections.
  2. Senior living as a service. Best-in-class services will support older adults throughout the aging continuum.
  3. Solutions for the “forgotten middle,” creating senior housing solutions that are affordable.
  4. Affinity communities bring together people who share common interests or identifying factors, such as race, religion or sexuality.
  5. Intergenerational living. Reduced ageism, increases social connections, improves community infrastructure and contributes to overall well-being.
  6. Power of purpose, helping residents find ways to put their talents and knowledge to use.
  7. Acceleration of age-tech. An influx of startups and investment capital is driving technology innovation for older adults.
  8. Food delivery redefined. Pop-up stores, farmers’ markets, ready-to-prepare meals and delivery options provide flexibility.
  9. Inclusivity — creating more diverse, welcoming and inclusive communities.
  10. Exposing ageism and removing negative perceptions of aging that undermine opportunities for senior living operators, staff and residents.

Although most older adults indicate that they want to age in place, SeniorTrends noted that the key to well-being is “living in the right place — a place where they can thrive with a sense of belonging and community, instead of being isolated.”

New senior living models will balance privacy and communal living, according to the report, creating communities that promote purpose, growth and inclusion. The report can be downloaded on the SeniorTrade website.

‘Critical turning point’

Meanwhile, reflecting on how the pandemic has affected the long-term care industry, and looking ahead to 2022, Omnicare President James Love wrote in a LinkedIn post that the ongoing labor crisis will only worsen as the aging population grows.

“We’re at a critical turning point and are being forced to reassess how we keep residents and staff healthy, especially as the elderly population in our country continues to grow, and the need for LTC is expected to increase exponentially,” he wrote.

Long-term care facilities, Love said, have reported that there are 220,000 fewer filled positions now compared with the start of the pandemic. With the senior population expected to double over the next several decades, appropriate staffing will continue to be a priority for the industry, he said.

Among predictions for 2022, Love said he sees continued pressure on census as the industry continues to see fluctuating occupancy levels. The industry also should expect a reassessment of state and local guidelines on visitation. And a continuation of mergers and acquisitions, as well as the growth of external partnerships, will make the industry stronger, he said.