UMRC meets boomer needs

~UMRC photo

United Methodist Retirement Communities reports on boomer retirement needs and preferences.

With one American turning 65 every seven seconds, senior living communities across the U.S. are eager to determine how they’ll need to grow and evolve in response to anticipated baby boomer demand.

In southeast Michigan, United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) has been aggressively mapping its path forward by gathering the latest research into the preferences of people born in years immediately following WWII.

“Today’s seniors have lifestyle expectations that are very different from those of their parents,” said John Thorhauer, UMRC president and CEO. “They’re focused on maintaining their own health and fitness, eager to remain active and connected to mutigenerational communities of people, and determined to remain in their own homes as long as they can. They want to keep working, and they definitely don’t want to be part of anything that looks or feels institutional.”

The implications of these preferences have yet to be fully felt in the U.S. senior living sector.

“As an industry, we’re in an odd place right now. We’re planning and building today for a population we may not see for another decade,” Thorhauer said. “We need to be ahead of the curve, determining what the market is going to look like before it even exists. Fortunately, there is a broad and growing array of research available to help guide our facilities’ growth and improvement plans.”

Thorhauer pointed to research done by senior community design experts like Diane Carstens, who offers critical insights that can help give planners a leg up in building for the baby boomer generation. Carstens suggests a unique “prosthetic approach” to design, which allows the optimal functioning of the individual by offering support when needed, but allowing for independence, challenge, and learning.

“The key is to make sure supports are ready, but not obvious,” Thorhauer said. “Facilities need to look private and homelike, with many hidden aids at the ready to act as a safety net the moment they’re needed. It also makes a lot of sense for traditional retirement communities to begin offering a broader portfolio of external service delivery options to support larger numbers of aging residents no matter where they live.”

Thorhauer said his own organization is growing rapidly in response to current and anticipated needs.

“Over the last six years alone, UMRC has expanded from three locations to eight in Chelsea, Dexter, Detroit, Ypsilanti, Lansing, and Jackson,” Thorhauer said. “We’re serving over 2,600 older adults annually across 12 Michigan counties—and we’re planning to double that number in the years ahead.”

Click here to read more about United Methodist Retirement Communities and Changing Times.



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