K
  • Rolfe Kurtyka

    Senior Housing Is Redefined as Baby Boomers Age

    By Rolfe Kurtyka, Lead Instructor, Minnesota Real Estate Licensing
    Published May 2014

    In 2025, baby boomers-those born between roughly 1946 and 1964-will account for the biggest and most significant market segment the housing industry has ever seen. What housing and care options will they have?  

    Traditional senior housing models, such as assisted living, will always be an option. However, Americans are living longer, and the high cost of assisted living may put this solution out of reach for many, especially as a long-term solution. Thankfully, forward thinkers in the housing industry are already producing alternative solutions.

    Smart remodeling contractors are specializing in alterations that will enable homeowners to stay longer in their existing homes. Examples include tastefully landscaped ramps, walk-in bathtubs, and even elevators. New home developers offer single-level homes with wider hallways, 36-inch doors, ramps, and kitchens and baths that can be easily adapted to accommodate changing needs.

    Some families are finding that the solution to a number of current economic challenges is to live in the same home. Known as multigenerational housing and popular in the 1940s, this concept has experienced a dramatic resurgence. The percentage of Americans living in multigenerational households is higher than ever and growing. Today, almost 20 percent of all households are multigenerational.

    A multigenerational household is defined as two related adult generations living under one roof. The primary reason cited for the increase in the number of these households is economics. Added benefits include child care, shared expenses, and the comfort and convenience of being close to those needing care. Adult children have also found that simple economics keeps them in the home.

    In a multigenerational household, the trick is to figure out where to put everyone. One solution is to simply buy a big house. But some people like privacy, and new home builders and remodelers have the solution; if zoning allows, they'll create a residence within a residence, adding kitchenettes, bathrooms, and even a separate entrance. 

    People who don't want to remodel can see whether the elder pod works for them. An elder pod is a self-contained, portable residential living unit designed to be placed in the back yard. Since it is portable, it is not technically a residence. This solution allows privacy for the occupant under the watchful eye of the homeowner, and may be a good solution for those with aging parents. At about 600 square feet, the efficient elder pods can be typical homes, or they can be outfitted with features appealing to the elderly.

    A variation of the pod is the interdependent living unit. These small, freestanding units are dependent on the caregiver's house, designed using state-of-the-art technologies, and provide around-the-clock monitoring. This solution is often selected when the goal is to provide care via the family rather than an institution.  

    Forward-thinking planning and zoning officials in municipalities with an eye toward growth have already welcomed these housing alternatives. Savvy real estate professionals will profit as they meet the needs of baby boomers in 2025.

     

    Rolfe Kurtyka is a lead instructor at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

     

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