Picture a vertical, mixed-use community with a senior living component where residents have access to retail, health care and entertainment, using virtual reality platforms to connect older adults with similar interests, or creating new organs for the body via 3D printers.
These innovations are either already here or on the horizon, and they can be used to dramatically alter the way future generations of seniors can age in place, according to the “Clean Slate Project,” a new report released Thursday by New York City-based architecture firm Perkins Eastman that looks at the disruptive forces that can revolutionize senior living for residents and operators.
The 60-page report is the result of over a year of interviews with experts from inside and outside the industry, to identify what it calls “macro-shocks” that are already reshaping the industry, Perkins Eastman Principal Leslie Moldow told Senior Housing News.
Those disruptors are:
- Tech-Age: how artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality are poised to fundamentally change how older adults engage with the world, and how the rest of the world engages with them.
- Aging in the Community: how services are moving away from a traditional strategy of centralizing care to instead branch out into the communities where older adults already live, work, and thrive.
- Third Act: how the traditional notion of retirement is changing, where lifestyle matters, and continued engagement opportunities abound.
- Paradigm Shifts: the worldwide systemic disruptors we are all facing due to climatic, financial, and political trends.
These were selected from a wider bucket of disruptors, Perkins Eastman Associate Max Winters told SHN.
Perkins Eastman conducted between 15 and 20 interviews with technology experts, health care magazine editors, policy experts, climate change researchers, consumer advocates and leaders, and user experiential analysts. The firm looked outside senior living to experts who help people live longer and better, regardless of age.
“We wanted to understand what was happening in other industries, and how what they were seeing can impact senior living,” Winters said.
Each macro-shock has the potential to disrupt the industry in multiple ways, and the report’s authors cast a wide net to identify six most likely future scenarios for senior living’s future:
- WeTest WeThrive: where seniors can get access to tomorrow’s life-altering technology.
- Into The Wellderness: cutting-edge communities in exotic locales focused on holistic wellness and alternative medicine.
- Centers for Creative Living: a lifestyle experience subscription service that lets seniors spend the best years of their life living out their dreams in some of the most beautiful and iconic locations in the U.S. and around the world.
- LifePod Homes: an age-friendly accessory dwelling unit in the backyard, freeing up seniors’ homes to rent out for additional income or for extended family to move in.
- Vertical Main Street: a mid-rise residential tower added onto an existing shopping mall that houses a variety of community activities.
- Bed Match and Beyond: a digital platform that connects older adults who are looking for community with like-minded individuals.
Most, if not all, of these scenarios already exist in senior living, Winters told SHN. But their potential to revolutionize the industry are not being leveraged on a wider scale.
The Perkins Eastman team also decided to focus on macro-shocks and scenarios that are already in play and can result in near-term positive impact on senior living. Mixed-use communities where senior housing is a major component is a growing trend. VR products such as Rendever are being used to take seniors on virtual trips around the world, and to help reconnect people with late-stage dementia with their families.
Even scenarios such as 3D-printed organs are closer than many believe, Moldow told SHN.
“We didn’t want to get too sci-fi,” she said.
With the release of the Clean Slate Project, Perkins Eastman hopes it can jumpstart a dialogue among senior living providers, and inspire them to embrace these macro-shocks and scenarios, Winters said.
That dialogue is already happening outside the industry. As the baby boomer generation makes the transition to senior living, its desire to age in place is on the radar of stakeholders inside and outside senior living.
And the rate of innovation is happening faster than many can keep up with, Moldow said. Perkins Eastman wants the Clean Slate Project to be an essential component to revolutionizing the industry.
“These things have the potential to stretch the longevity [of seniors] to 150 and [living] well,” she said. “We want to be central to initiating that conversation.”
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