By Steve Moran

A friend recently sent me an article that suggests traditional stand-alone senior living will soon be replaced by new intergenerational models. I am a fan of the idea. My biggest objection to senior living as an option for me is that I don’t want to be around a bunch of other old people, even when I am one.

The article lists a number of new models that are being explored, including what Chip Conley is doing in New Mexico, a new idea by Dr. Bill Thomas and Nancy Fox (Bill will be on Foresight TV in a few weeks to talk about what he is doing), and a number of other ideas.

University-Based Senior Living

As is typical for these articles, a couple of paragraphs are devoted to senior living communities that are on or near university campuses. There are a few dozen that exist today, and most have done fairly well. It is one of those sexy ideas, like “memory care” was a few years ago and “active 55” is today. I worry that it creates a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) in the hearts of senior living developers and operators.

The Reality

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 38% of Americans 25 and older have a college degree. It seems unlikely that the other 62% are likely to be attracted to university-based senior living communities. And I suspect there are a fair number of folks in that 37% who are either not attracted to the idea or are even hostile toward it.

As a Niche

Niche market segments as a whole represent a huge opportunity for senior living. But individually they should be approached with caution. Memory care is a huge niche, and whole companies have found success in it, but we have seen spectacular failures and missteps as well.

Other Considerations

One of the big appeals of university-based senior living is that people who have university degrees tend to have higher incomes, which translates into being able to pay for high-end senior living. Senior living has a diversity problem in two areas. The first, which we have talked about a fair amount, is the senior leadership. The second is in the area of resident makeup. What we have today is mostly white residents who are being served by mostly black and brown frontline workers.

I am sure I don’t have a perfect solution, but I do think it is worth considering.