A new year often signals new opportunities and new hopes. Given the circumstances and challenges of 2020, we all are ready for good things in 2021, which we believe is going to be a great year for senior living. While 2020 proved that predictions are often fraught with error, here are a few trends we anticipate for the senior living industry next year:
A strong housing market
While some sectors of the economy struggled in 2020, the housing market soared. Analysts believe this trend will continue in 2021. Kiplinger expects median home sales prices to rise by 5 to 6 percent and for the overall number of homes for sale to continue to decline. That combination creates the perfect seller’s market. In Central Virginia, we are looking at continued a continued surge due to low inventory and high demand, which makes this a great time to sell. For seniors, this may provide a great opportunity to get the most for your home and move to a wonderful senior living community.
Location, location, location
As with the real estate market, location is everything. Today’s seniors are looking for a beautiful community with a plethora of activities and choices. Brandermill Woods was developed in an area known for its natural beauty, situated alongside a 1,700-acre lake. Along the way, a vibrant community has grown around it, with shopping, dining, and entertainment readily available. This trend of senior living communities being located in vibrant communities, but with a lovely campus that features many amenities has been growing in recent years and will continue into 2021.
While we would all like to leave COVID-19 behind, it will certainly remain a factor in 2021. Even as vaccines are approved, there will be a ramp up of distribution, which will be prioritized based on age, occupation and health conditions. Operation Warp Speed intends to distribute 300 million doses of the vaccine in the United States. However, that will take time. We anticipate seniors and health care workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine, which may allow retirement communities to return to something resembling normal—we hope by the middle of the year.
In 2020, Americans sought medical help from a distance in record numbers. Telehealth visits rose 50 percent in March, and according to Recode, were on track to hit 1 billion by the end of 2020. As telehealth visits have normalized, we are likely to see this trend continue. Especially for vulnerable populations and those with pre-existing conditions, staying out of medical facilities limits exposure to COVID-19, but many other illnesses, too. Additionally, telehealth is a convenient way to get a quick appointment, rather than waiting weeks for a traditional appointment. Your doctor is now just a few clicks away!
Americans love our furry friends. Thus, seniors increasingly want to live in communities that are pet friendly. Nearly 60 percent of households own a pet, which was increasingly true in 2020. Puppy sales and adoptions especially skyrocketed. Many shelters saw double the number of adoptions they’d usually experience. That means a lot of puppy moms and dads are looking for housing with walkable neighborhoods and facilities that can accommodate canine or feline best friends.
The use of technology to make our homes smarter and more convenient continues. From keyless entries to appliances you can control with an app to wearable technology, our everyday lives are made easier, and more complicated, by today’s technology. The Internet of Things trend shows no signs of stopping. Tech assistants such as the Amazon Echo (aka Alexa) and Google Home can help you remember your daily schedules, take medicine, or visit doctors.
Reconnect in 2021
Of course, we all became more familiar with video calls in 2020. If you haven’t already, try Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet or other technology to connect. Most of these services have a limited free version and can work on your smartphone, tablet or computer. While 2020 was challenging for us all, especially when it came to staying close to friends and family, may 2021 be the year to reconnect. Make it a priority to reach out to someone and wish them a Happy New Year!