Could this cut into the senior living/assisted living market?

I know I am not alone, but I am worried. . . actually greatly worried, that our industry, particularly assisted living and memory care, is plunging headlong into an abyss of too much capacity that is too expensive. This train is traveling down those tracks very rapidly even if market conditions remain the same, and they won’t.

Reinventing Senior Living

I came across this story at ABC news that talks about how a small, but likely growing, percentage of Baby Boomers are forming what we would have called, in the 60’s, communes. Most will not likely be houses with a constant haze of pot smoke and ever-changing mix and match sexual couplings. These new arrangements will initially be spawned out of economic necessity, but I predict that over time it will become a highly desirable model for at least 4 reasons:

  1. Cost – The beauty of the free market system is that it provides great incentive for innovation. We tend to think of this in terms of people wanting to get rich and likely this is the number one motivator. But free market also means sink or swim and this trend toward communal living will largely find deep roots in people not wanting to sink.

If my wife and I retired on just social security in Sacramento, where we currently live, we would not be able to afford to live in the house we live in, even if it were paid off. But if we added two more friends to the mix the shared costs would mean staying in a great house and, even more import, significant money to spend on our grandkids, travel or whatever we want.

  1. Companionship – In my view, today the most compelling benefit of senior living is that it provides a solution to the three plagues of loneliness, depression and boredom (using Eden Alternative terminology).   Senior shared housing solves most or even all of those problems.
  1. Care – There is no doubt that if you had a group of elders living together in a single family home they would not be able to mutually provide all the ADL help needed in that household, but my guess is there would be a lot of mutual support that would result in a much reduced need for professional care-giving resources. Also, if personal care was required, there would be economies of scale as a care provider could care for multiple clients at one site.
  1. Purpose – In our rush to provide luxury accommodations for senior living communities we are wiping out the purpose for living. In a communal living environment the senior housemates need each other, reestablishing purpose in their lives. Instead of having activities thrust at them, the residents would need to, and be able to, create their own projects, outings and interests. As these homes would be more likely than large assisted living communities to be located in neighborhoods, picture an after school homework program.

There is  potentially a very intriguing business opportunity here: helping seniors coordinate housing and services in a communal setting. What do you think? Would you live like this? Steve Moran If you like this article (or even if you don’t) it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE