‘We need to focus on what seniors want’

Ron van Bloois, Chair, Senior Housing & Healthcare Association.

Do we know what elderly people desire in their last decades of life? And how many differences do we see based on background, cultural habitats, financial abilities (sometimes driven by local regulations) and urban or rural living environments? 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution and seniors of today have differing requirements when compared with previous generations. ‘Senior consumerism’, it seems, warrants a dictionary definition. 

Beginning with some general requirements: seniors desire independence and a level of self-sufficiency, their self-esteem needs empowerment and they should be part of a social infrastructure with family, friends and like-minded people. 

From a built environment perspective, we are creating more and more senior living establishments, from small-scale assets to senior communities. But the position of this target group facility in society is unclear. Do we want it to be inclusive or are we implicitly separating it, especially when people are faced with dementia or severe mobility problems? These issues should be made part of political and urban planning discussions because of the boom in the older demographic. 

It is an opportunity for the real estate sector to show its creativity in providing smart, mixed-use concepts on an asset, area and country level. Creating attractive senior living products with demand-driven services and variety in terms of scale, architecture, affordability and typology (from BTR apartments, houses to mixed-ownership plots). 

Our increasing senior population needs our care and attention, and offers attractive business opportunities. So, it is time to demonstrate your entrepreneurial, needs-driven skills.