At the 2017 NMHC Annual Meeting, Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., a leading mind on the lifestyle, marketing, health care and workforce implications of our aging population, presented some of the latest research around the so-called “age wave” of baby boomers.
“We are living in an era where the expectancy and desire is to live longer,” Dychtwald said. “For the majority of human history, we never had to really consider housing for elderly. Two-thirds of all the people who have lived past 65 in the history of the world are alive today.”
Based on research that he and his team have conducted over years, baby boomers don’t want to be considered as “seniors,” he said; they consider their parents seniors. The apartment industry should take note, said Dychtwald.
Dychtwald also spoke at length about the changing perceptions of retirement. For decades, retirement has largely been considered a chance for those fortunate to be in a stable enough financial position to be able to stop working to relax and enjoy leisure activities. However, increasingly retirement is an evolving concept where many would like flexible or part time work-leisure schedules and look for opportunities to remain connected and engaged with their communities.
Also of note, older individuals typically have built up some wealth. Eighty-one percent of Americans over the age of 65 are homeowners; 72 percent have already paid off their mortgage.
As Dychtwald discussed the impact that the baby boomer generation has had on America-since post-World War II, new industries, inventions and perceptions have developed specifically to suit the baby boomer generation-the aging of this generation will leave its mark on housing in the future. More boomers will become renters, reshaping how the apartment industry approaches older residents in its development, amenities and offerings.
Boomers offer the industry an unparalleled opportunity to serve a burgeoning demand segment; it is critical that stakeholders at all levels of the industry adjust their perceptions and assumptions to provide for the upcoming age wave.