By Steve Moran

For as long as I can remember, senior living operators and capital partners have been salivating over the “tsunami” of aging boomers that will “fill every single senior living community in all of North America.”

This is insane thinking!


It is insanity for six reasons, but before I get to the reasons, I want to make the point by looking at memory care.

Eight or nine years ago, there was a belief that we could not in the foreseeable future possibly build enough memory care communities. The demand was so big as to be unlimited. The proof was there. Operators would open new communities, project a 12-month fill-up, and be at 100% occupancy in four or five weeks.

The operators saw themselves as brilliant, as did the executive directors. Then communities started to not fill up. These brilliant executive directors would move to another building and not get similar results. They had simply been lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

It turned out the supply of residents who needed memory care, who could pay for it, and who wanted it was indeed limited.

  1. There is a real shortage of people who are willing to, who want to, work in senior living. Even if the demand is there, the labor shortage will be real. This means labor will be more expensive, which will price more and more families out of the market.
  2. The cost of senior living continues to go up, and it will freeze people out of the marketplace. In some cases, they won’t be able to afford it, and in other cases, they will decide it is simply not worth it.
  3. I am concerned that in spite of the amazing interventions the health care system offers, boomers are not healthy people. Too many calories and too little exercise. We know that because of COVID, life expectancy has dropped significantly. I am convinced it will continue to drop.
  4. If we are honest, we have mostly not gotten the quality of life experience right yet. There is a small segment of people who are choosing senior living as a lifestyle choice. And honestly, a lot of them are not all that thrilled with what they are getting.
  5. More building — if the demand increases, so will the building activity, in a fashion similar to what happened with memory care.
  6. There will be more alternatives. Already things like DoorDash and Uber make it a lot easier to stay in one’s home longer.


And yet there is tremendous opportunity for smart, nimble operators who figure out how to create great experiences for residents and team members. It can be done at the luxury level but also done in the middle market. Those who figure it out will transform the lives of residents, their families, and team members, and make fantastic profits.

Those who simply hope the “age wave” will force the reluctant into senior living will end up with dashed hope.