What’s the New Standard in Senior Living Communities?

It’s hard to believe that it was in May that I blogged about being ready to “turn the corner” on everything that was impacting the country.  I guess I was a little impatient.  In the meantime, it is as we predicted that there would be some creative times ahead in the design and construction of senior living communities. 

We have spoken with a lot of our colleagues in the senior living operations and design community in the last couple of months to learn about what they want to implement into their future projects to increase health and safety when a contagious health crisis such as Covid-19 hits.  At the top of the list is upgraded HVAC systems to better filter airborne pathogens as well as increase fresh air circulation.  A close second is UV technology to kill microbial particles (both incorporated into HVAC systems as well as other equipment options for...

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The Stepping Stone for Baby Boomers

The “Silver Tsunami” of Baby Boomers is not knocking on the door of assisted living communities just yet and still has several years to go before they are.  So how are senior living developers going to entice these folks to leave their homes?

A recent article in Senior Housing News noted that in a survey of 120 senior housing professionals, 87% of them responded that they are currently pursuing active adult apartment projects.  They see the need for a stepping stone so to speak; getting seniors to leave their homes that are nowhere near ready to move into an Independent Living community much less an Assisted Living community.  Seniors in this segment are still looking for active, vibrant lives and are not ready to see what the future looks like by living in communities where they would see just that. 

If seniors can stay in place longer in these communities with the...

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The Great Depression’s Impact on Senior Living Occupancy

All of us in the senior living industry understand that inventory growth has exceeded demand, causing vacancies to rise.  I was at a recent symposium and one of the speakers said that the decline in demand was caused by the great depression, an intriguing concept.  Research indicates that from 1927 to 1933 that birth rates decreased by more than 425,000, over 15%.  This would certainly impact demand, it seems.

The speaker then said that this reversed in the 4th quarter of 2017 and that demand was picking up.  A study of US census information shows that it started picking up in 1937, escalating significantly through the start of world war two.  1937 was 82 years ago.  The average age for entry to senior living communities is 84 according to most of our clients.  This would mean there may be a little more time to wait for a resurgence of demand, unfortunately.'


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Not Your Father’s Senior Living Community

As the baby boomer generation begins turning 70, senior living providers will have tremendous opportunities.  At the same time, they will face the challenge of reinventing their business and providing innovative solutions to meet the needs and demands of this new generation. Today’s seniors are looking for options that deliver the comforts and amenities of home.  This trend is changing the design and construction of senior living communities.  Designers are incorporating more residential design elements and finishes into new buildings, resulting in vibrant and comfortable spaces that are very inviting for residents.  The buildings being designed and constructed today are not your father’s senior living facility. By involving a general contractor very early in the planning process, working collaboratively with the design team, an owner can understand costs, lead times and constructability of various design components, and have the ability to make timely decisions.  The general contractor can also provide potential alternative options...

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Integri-D Building Peace of Mind

Since our founding in 1976, The Douglas Company has focused on building senior living and multi-family projects for owners and developers who depend on us to control the risks and costs of the many facets of development.  During that time we have developed comprehensive processes for nearly everything we do. From preconstruction, project start, through construction, project completion and warranty, we have 68 detailed and documented processes in place that are followed, tracked and reported on consistently.  Additionally, we are continuously training our staff on these processes to assure consistency in the delivery of quality products.  These proven processes, and The Douglas Company’s discipline in following them is a true competitive advantage and provides our clients with the added value they deserve and expect from The Douglas Company. Earlier this year, we decided it was time to “brand” our processes to help our clients better understand how The Douglas Company will fulfill...

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Senior Living: Meeting the Changing Needs

The Interface Conference in Atlanta proposed some interesting questions with possible answers.  Everyone talks about the first baby boomers turning 72, intimating that this is a positive for senior living.  But the average entry age for senior living properties is about 85, depending on who you talk to, so there is a long time to wait for the first baby boomer.  Not surprisingly, developers are starting to think about how to attract baby boomer retirees.  Minimal, à la carte services in an affordable, yet reasonably sized apartment is one.  Home health care can be layered on at a later date.  One provider is using food trucks for his kitchen, a different truck, with different types of food every night.  It’s amazing to me to see the number of people my age retiring.  Though they are closer to 60, there is a discussion of downsizing, lower maintenance, more freedom, and more...

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Baby Boomers — The New Wave in Senior Living

The baby boomers, the massive increase in births that occurred between 1945 and 1964, started turning 65 in 2011.  The population of people over 65 stood at just over 41 million people in 2011.  With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 each day, the over-65 population is projected to grow to over 85 million by 2050. The baby boomers have shaped the housing market for many years, and as baby boomers approach retirement, there is no doubt, they will shape the senior housing market for years into the future.  Market studies indicate that as baby boomer age, they want to maintain an active lifestyle either within their own community, or a community near their adult children.  While many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, a higher percentage of the baby boomer generation, compared to the previous generation, desire an easier “carefree” lifestyle. Senior (age restricted) apartment communities, villas,...

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Better, Not Bigger

There is a large need in the senior housing market to develop and build affordable communities. The current economy mandates, due to higher interest rates and high construction costs, the need to design and develop senior facilities that produce better, not bigger, designs. The best senior community operators are looking at downsizing all of their new senior properties to respond to the current market conditions and to increase competition in most markets. As many young Americans are attracted to micro-units, so too will seniors. The key to having an affordable design that will compete in the market is controlling the square footage of the living units, and the common space, while still providing top tier amenities. The Douglas Company is working on developing a prototype design for an assisted living and memory care communities that controls the square footage of the entire building footprint, but still provides a design that feels like...

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Senior Living for the Middle Market

Lately, as I talk with our senior living clients, many of them seem to be thinking about the same challenge.  Similarly, that same challenge seems to be the topic of seminars at recent industry conferences, as well as the subject of several articles published in many of the trade magazines.  How do we provide senior living solutions to the middle market?

For much of the past thirty-five-plus years, development and growth of the senior living industry have been off the charts.  Everyone understands that as the baby boomers age, we will be hard-pressed to meet the demand, however currently there continues to be concern and discussion that the market is becoming overbuilt.  But upon further study, one will quickly discover that most of the growth and development has been either on the high-end or on the affordable/subsidized end of the market.  Very little new development has been targeted at the middle...

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Modern Senior Living Communities: Embracing the New

I am continuously amazed at the quality of environments our clients are hiring us to construct and the fantastic services they are providing for our senior population.  Outstanding socialization opportunities, healthy diets, exercise programs, and support for meds and other health issues legitimately extend both the quality and duration of the lives they serve.  But many seniors fight the opportunities to move into these bright, airy, social environments in favor of staying in their dark, lonely homes.  I can say I don’t fully understand this. As a general contractor specializing in senior living solutions, I have a distinct advantage to see all of the new options available.  The senior living environments we are building today far surpass those of even 10 years ago.  These ‘holistic’ environments are innovative. They not only provide for the medical and physical needs of the individual. They take special care to plan and build spaces that...

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To Bid or Not to Bid Your Senior Living Project

During the height of the recession, I wrote a blog on the same topic.  Times have changed since then, so circumstances have changed, and it’s worth revisiting.  Prices keep increasing, making projects more challenging.  As construction activity has increased, the number of trade subcontractors and skilled workers has increased only nominally, and supply and demand are pushing up prices, including for materials.  With all the challenges of price increases, owners are asking themselves if they should competitively bid their project to get the best prices. To best understand this, it is important to look at the underlying processes.  Development is a complex endeavor, and risky.  Though it is tempting to think that the best price comes from competitively bidding, what is on the drawings is 85%-90% of the cost of a project, so critically important.  The key is to understand and control what is on the drawings to reduce and control...

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What is Right in Senior Housing?

The future of senior housing is important to The Douglas Company and its clients.  As such, statistics matter.  We receive and attempt to interpret the NIC data, which shows incremental increases in vacancies, which is a concern.  But National Real Estate Investor Magazine, a respected source, does a survey each year, which is projecting more growth in the next twelve months for senior housing.  Some of the trends quoted are as follows:
  • The number of boomers hitting retirement creating a shortage, even now.
  • Outdated facilities, in terms of what seniors want.
  • A large number of underserved markets.  For example, 30% of last year’s new supply was in seven metropolitan areas, with 12% in Dallas and Minneapolis alone.
  • Rising rents.
  • Eager buyers of stabilized properties.
  • The availability of both equity and debt capital for experienced, capable providers.
  • Relatively stable, good acquisition pricing.
Let’s hope National Real Estate Investor is right, for the...

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Memory Care Design

The expansion of memory-care living communities is part of the ongoing evolution of senior living construction, which has seen rapid changes over the past few decades with the demand expected to continue to grow with the baby boomer generation. The Douglas Company started building senior living projects back in 1983 and has since had a business model dedicated to senior-living, including memory care and dementia communities. The main objective when working as part of the design-build team is to provide: a safe and comfortable home-like environment that is supportive of the resident’s need to maintain independence. Some of the most important considerations when constructing a memory care facility is designing to have specific services and features for residents that suffer from dementia; such as a secure environment to prevent elopement while allowing healthy wandering, sensory-based programming, color-coded hallways to facilitate easy navigation, theme rooms with vintage aspects, tranquil spaces and vibrant garden...

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