With the next major senior population, the baby boomers, senior care facilities are finding themselves looking to the future when all those boomers come of age, so to speak. And as of 2016, people aged 60 and older numbered 14 percent of Maryland’s population of 6 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
For some, that future has inspired a full master plan. That is the case for the Broadmead living community in Cockeysville. The Quaker-affiliated nonprofit community has about 400 residents among its independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and is planning to expand its capacity even further in the coming years, said Jennifer Goforth, vice president of communications.
“It’s exciting, and it’s, like anything, a little bit of a risk because it’s kind of a ‘if you build it, they will come’ situation,” she said. “But it’s an exciting opportunity.”
Goforth said their residents, especially in independent living, are tending to skew younger, with the average incoming age about 77, below the national average of about 84. With that trend, Broadmead has been improving the kinds of activities and entertainment provided because that is what incoming seniors want, she said.
William Young, director at Peregrine’s Landing at Tudor Heights, a senior care facility that is fully kosher and caters to seniors with memory issues, said he is less concerned about trends and demographic changes because, for one, his facility is for a more targeted population and for two, the senior care business is full of ups and downs. People may be jumping on the senior care bandwagon, he said, and building a ton of new facilities, but the only real key is the kind of care a place can provide.
“Having been a [senior care] director for 14 years, experience is everything,” he said, adding that, in the end, many of these new places will fail if they don’t prioritize patient care and stimulation, especially when it comes to those who have memory issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Like Broadmead, Atrium Village and North Oaks in Owings Mills and Pikesville, respectively, are independent and assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities. Atrium Village director of sales and marketing David Meacham said there is one main thing he’s noticing about incoming seniors that hasn’t necessarily been true in the past.
“The age is pretty consistent, but the difference we’re seeing is how active they are,” he said.
This has led places to up the ante in what kind of activities they provide. Broadmead, for instance, is partnering with Johns Hopkins University on centers of excellence for health and wellness that will offer nutrition and fitness classes, trivia games and other activities intended to promote physical, intellectual and social wellness, Goforth said.
Similarly, Atrium Village has an extensive gardening program, growing its own fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. It’s been a big hit with residents, Meacham said, especially those with memory issues because it allows them to remember experiences from when they were younger.
For senior care facilities with a broader base of patients, providing amenities and activities for the incoming active seniors will be important in attracting the future baby boomers. For most of them, they’re starting now.