Housing industry will see changes as population ages

The over-65 population is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years, and while a considerable amount of attention has been paid to what impact this could have on the healthcare industry, the aging population will also affect housing. A recent report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) revealed that the millions of Americans over 65 have widely different opinions on what kind of retirement housing they expect.

These recent trends were examined in the report, Housing in America – The Baby Boomers Turn 65, which analyzed the differences between leading-edge baby boomers (those who just turned 65), the silent generation (those between 67 and 85) and the greatest generation (those 85 and older).

For leading-edge baby boomers, the desire for an active lifestyle combined with a longer life expectancy has shifted the expectations of retirement housing. Baby boomers anticipate that retirement communities will conform to their desire to continue education, re-enter the workforce or travel the world, the report found.

Boomers are not the only ones concerned about having an active retirement. Older adults who are already into their 70s and 80s are placing a greater emphasis on healthy aging as well. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of seniors moving near college towns or into retirement communities that offer recreational and social opportunities.

"Over the last two decades, unprecedented change has occurred, and today three separate generations are over 65, each with its own outlook on life and distinct housing needs that are unlike those of past markets for people in their age group," said ULI's John K. McIlwain in a press release.

It would behoove retirement communities to prepare for the expected influx of seniors. Just two years ago there were around 40 million people in the United States over 65, but that figure may reach about 55 million by 2020.