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Baby Boomers Become a Strong Influence in the Housing Market/Universal Design Catches On, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Senior citizens make up a very fast-growing segment of the population, in the U.S. and in most of the world including China.  The year 2011 saw the first Baby Boomers turning age 65.  The term “Baby Boomer,” generally referring to people born from 1946 to 1964, has evolved to include the children of soldiers and war industry workers who were involved in World War II.  When those veterans and war industry workers returned to civilian life, they started or added to families in large numbers.  The Baby Boom generation, originally 78 million people in America, is one of the largest demographic segments in the U.S.  As a result, an estimated 10,000 Americans turn age 65 every day.  The Baby Boom was not limited to the United States by any means.  High rates of new household formation and high birth rates were common throughout much of the world in the post-war period, with a very significant effect on today’s growth in the senior segment of the population.
The real estate industry is quickly evolving to meet the needs and tastes of seniors, including the Baby Boomers who are hitting the traditional retirement age of 65 and members of older generations who require increasingly specialized homes and services as they hit 80 years and older.  Housing options that cater to aging homeowners include retirement communities (also referred to as “independent living”), continuing care (which provides a broad spectrum of living options from independent living to nursing homes), assisted living (which offers assistance in daily tasks such as shopping, cleaning, etc. but does not provide onsite medical care) and communities that provide medical care for specific conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Another modest trend in senior housing is cooperative or communal living, in which private dwellings are grouped around a communal area or “common house” which usually contains a living room, kitchen and dining area for group dinners.  Some communities of this type also include housing for on-site medical caregivers.  
Today’s seniors are significantly different from those of the past.  Baby Boomers in particular will enjoy much longer lifespans, will be much more affluent, will be more physically active and will be much more discerning of the specific qualities, features and services that they want in their living environments than previous generations.  Watch for substantial growth in the senior living industry for many years to come.

SPOTLIGHT:  Universal Design
Universal design (UD) creates living spaces that are comfortably livable for the largest variety of people, including those who are older or dealing with physical challenges.  As many homeowners age, they look for a house with elements such as wide, step-less doorways, sturdy handrails, automatic faucets and stacked closets that can be converted to elevators.  In addition, the Coronavirus pandemic will accelerate desire for all types of touch-free universal design, which may include new uses for voice-activated devices.  The Center for Universal Design promotes UD throughout the U.S.  Located at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, the center conducts research and collaborates with builders and manufacturers.  For more information, see

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