Aging Industry Spotlight: HousingBy Margaret Franckhauser, President & CEO, NextFifty Initiative Oct 10, 2017
There are many industries that are well-positioned to focus on the aging population; healthcare is quite obvious. Housing may seem pretty apparent, as well, if you automatically think about senior living facilities. However, there are some very interesting niches developing within the housing and “living” industry and a lot of room for innovation and scalability.
From inner-city seniors to aging rural populations, there are a wide variety of needs that need to be met. Let’s face it – if people are living longer, they must have somewhere to live, and hopefully in a place that is conducive to their physical abilities and psychological needs. “Aging in place” has grown in popularity, meaning not everyone wants to move into senior housing and would rather stay in their own home. Regardless of where people are living, there is great opportunity to make the later years in life more enjoyable.
Here are some ways innovation has been key in the shaping the housing industry for today and tomorrow’s aging population:
- Silvernest: Roommates aren’t just for college anymore. Based in Colorado with national reach, this unique matching service helps find compatible housemates for baby boomers and empty nesters. Its rapid growth well-illustrates the demand and a great concept for financial, safety and social reasons.
- Niche communities like Stonewall Gardens in Florida are created to bring together like-minded people – in this case the LGBT community. Some seniors move close to colleges so they can take classes together, others band together because of their love of golf. The possibilities are endless and the concept is simple: make it easy to meet up! Proximity to others and specific activities can be absolutely critical.
- Intergenerational living has myriad benefits. By finding ways to pair up disparate populations to live together, the hope is that people in different life stages can learn from and help each other. The recently launched Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot in Boston, “will take grad students looking for a place to stay and pair them with older homeowners who have extra rooms. The program is run through the city’s Elderly Commission and nesterly, a home-sharing startup founded by recent MIT graduates Noelle Marcus and Rachel Goor”.
- According to AARP’s HomeFit Guide, “One way to make a home more livable is to incorporate design principles and products that are adaptable, safe and easy to use. Such smartly designed features are attractive, stylish and come at all price points”. From specifically shaped handles to alarms, we encourage creative thinking about adaptability.
Housing is one niche in the wider world of industries that have opportunity for advancement and innovation in an aging market. At NextFifty Initiative, we love to see what organizations and individuals dream up to help people thrive – not simply survive – as they age. What inspires you?