Baby Boomers Changing California’s Retirement Landscape

By Wendy Cornejo

With nearly 80 million members nationwide, the baby boomer generation has significantly impacted the American economy for decades. As the baby boomers reach retirement age—AARP reports that 10,000 boomers turn 65 every day in the United States—the need for housing that is more accessible to seniors, and that meets the lifestyle needs of boomer retirees, will reach unprecedented levels.

Over the next two decades, demand for senior housing is expected to double, with nearly 2 million more residences required to meet the skyrocketing demand. Unquestionably, the boomers are creating a quantity conundrum for the senior living industry. Enterprising senior housing providers already are gearing up to accommodate the coming rush of move-ins.

But the boomers also will challenge the senior living industry on another front: Quality. Today’s seniors require a standard of living that significantly exceeds the expectations of generations past—in a number of ways. What kinds of services and amenities will boomers require to live their best lives in retirement, and are senior living providers prepared to deliver?

Resort-style living—at home

Throughout their working lives, the boomers have become accustomed to a level of residential luxury not widely known to their parents. Large homes with lots of walk-in closets, outdoor living spaces, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and gourmet kitchens are de rigueur in the era of home improvement TV. For many boomer families, spa days and vacations to exotic locales have become the norm rather than the exception.

As boomers decide to downsize from single-family homes and to make room for their retirement lifestyles, they expect resort-style living and five-star amenities—and rightly so. The boomers as a workforce have stood as a pillar of American commerce and industry for decades, and now they’re ready to take time to enjoy life, spending much less time on home and yard maintenance and more time crafting a retirement lifestyle that is all their own.

Understandably, boomers expect senior living communities to deliver the services and amenities they require for maximum well-being, enjoyment and engagement in retirement. From gourmet meals to wellness accommodations and on-site bars and lounges, amenities will play a pivotal role in the health and happiness of the boomers in senior living over the coming decades.

Exceeding expectations

To meet the needs of the boomer generation—and stay atop retirees’ short lists for retirement housing—providers must meet and exceed these expectations.

Many communities are offering premier amenities such as salons, spas, wellness centers and exceptional culinary experiences matching those in the best restaurants in an effort to entice boomers. Many boomers beginning to look at senior living options are still working, have traveled extensively, and many still dine out.

As boomers enter senior living communities in droves, they also will seek additional ways to pursue their passions, promote their well-being, and make a difference throughout volunteerism. Premier programming—including lifelong learning opportunities, cultural enrichment and volunteerism—along with a commitment to whole-person wellness is now center stage in the senior living landscape.

The senior living industry is heading into a period of great change, as the baby boomers retire en masse and seek to begin the next phase of their lives. Many will look to senior living providers for luxury amenities as well as commitments to wellness and service to the community. Who will meet the challenge?

CREDIT: Wendy Cornejo is executive director of Villa Capri, an Oakmont Senior Living community, which will open this year in Santa Rosa, CA. A senior living veteran, Cornejo joined Oakmont Senior Living in 2018. Headquartered in Windsor, CA, Oakmont Senior Living is a family-owned and operated award-winning leader in the industry that has planned and developed more than 50 retirement communities in the western United States.