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Connect Healthcare 2017—Charting a New Course in Senior Housing

A “silver tsunami” is about to hit the United States, according to the experts who participated in Connect Healthcare 2017’s senior housing panel. You can read a re-cap of all the panels here.

“The ‘silver tsunami’ is real,” contended RCS Inc.’s Eric Johnston. “Older people are looking for quality experiences. They’re looking to grow for their next stage in life. They’re looking to be empowered and be relevant and have a positive experience with the aging process. It’s how we react as an industry to those wants and needs—those will be the ones who are successful.”

The panelists agreed that the nation and the industry aren’t prepared for the number of seniors who will need care in the near future. In particular, the panelists discussed the challenges associated with middle-class seniors, with Silverado Senior Housing’s Paul Mullin warning of a lack of affordability for this segment.

“The new wave of homelessness is people in their 80s and 90s who’ve lost a lot of their wealth,” said Avison Young’s Julie Johnson. “There’s not a lot being done for development of affordable housing—that is a segment that hasn’t been planned for.”

Over the past year or so, a number of multifamily developers have expressed interest in developing senior housing. Some multifamily operators are serving as lead developers for projects, while others are partnering with firms like RCS.

“We see tremendous synergy between multifamily,” Johnston said, pointing to one of RCS’s new projects—an intergenerational development in Ahwatukee, AZ.

Ankrom Moisan Architects’ Mark Miller said the trend of mixing generations hasn’t been fully explored, but has proven to be beneficial in keeping senior minds young. He noted that the “old” model of the nursing home has evolved to developments that feel like resorts with lots of amenities, upscale dining options, a plethora of activities, and nice finishes.

Johnson contended that in the senior housing space, the operator holds equal importance to the real estate. Colliers International’s Tim Dulaney, who moderated the panel, said that the first question lenders ask when it comes to a senior housing project is: “Who’s the operator?”

Mullin said real estate isn’t the biggest difficulty for the senior housing industry. “The entire industry is facing a huge need for caregivers,” he said. “We’re already fighting for the same staff. Finding good people to serve our elderly [is the challenge]. Not the real estate.”

For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec

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