As we close out 2021 and look forward to 2022, senior living team members and residents are feeling optimistic and hopeful. While the new year still finds the world locked in a pandemic, there are practices and innovations happening in senior living communities around the globe that are helping residents and team members feel safe and ready to take on 2022 with gusto.
One thing is certain: Senior living is ready to make the new year one to remember for residents and staff.
What’s on the horizon? Communities are ready to pick back up where they left off before the pandemic stalled any new plans. We’ll surely see new innovations and technology to enhance lifestyle for senior living residents, as well as new ways to meet the needs and preferences of everyone at communities, staff included.
Here are a few things to expect in 2022 and beyond.
Balancing Safety and Socialization
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic was finding ways to keep residents engaged with one another without spreading any germs. In 2020, we saw the pendulum swing drastically toward the infection control side of things, and rightfully so. However, this focus ended up isolating residents, which is typically the opposite approach of a senior living community. Consistent socialization is a key component of senior living, as most communities follow research that connects isolation with rapid cognitive decline, decreased immune response, and other health complications.
In 2021, thanks to vaccinated staff and residents, we began to see communities putting healthy socialization back into community life while still following infection control best practices. In 2022, communities will continue encouraging social health through even more group activities and opportunities. We’ll likely see new ways for residents to interact and engage with one another more easily through virtual programs as well, when the need arises.
A Focus on Smaller Communities
In 2022, bigger may not always prove to be better when it comes to senior living. While large and expansive senior living communities are not going anywhere, it will be more and more common to find “pocket neighborhoods” or dwellings within those larger communities.
These smaller neighborhoods, or pods of residents, are not only better for infection control purposes, but they create the feeling of smaller community living, which can make for more meaningful friendships and interactions. Each pod or neighborhood might share a living room and dining room, along with a team of caregivers, making the setting more intimate and personal.
Smaller pod neighborhoods also allow senior living communities to specialize care within those areas. For example, pods could be grouped by social interest, health needs, or even dementia stage. The possibilities are endless.
A Move to Cities
Right now, it is common to find different senior living communities spread throughout the suburbs. Finding a community in a larger city can be more difficult for seniors who want to experience everything a bustling metropolis has to offer.
In 2022, look for more and more senior living communities to find ways to cater to the urban retiree. Organizations are exploring strategies to bring luxury senior living to larger cities in a way that still feels like a friendly neighborhood and less like skyscraper living.
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More Concierge Services
The move to a more hospitality-based approach will likely continue in 2022 for most senior living communities. You’ll find this come to life through the introduction of more concierge services.
Senior living communities can’t afford to take a cookie-cutter approach to serving residents. Each individual is unique and comes with different needs, preferences, and requests. In order to better serve each individual, more senior living communities will find ways to increase the personally tailored services on offer to ensure every resident has what they need, when they need it.
While some communities are looking at hiring personal butlers, the majority of communities will focus on their concierge and customer service. A hospitality-centered approach will take center stage via a concierge team that helps residents with day-to-day essentials and conveniences, including:
- Offering more information about upcoming community events
- Signing residents up for a trip
- Helping residents make catering reservations with the dining team for upcoming family gatherings
- Ensuring transportation is secured for a resident’s next medical appointment
Finding New Ways to Enable Aging in Place
As residents grow older and face potential medical challenges, the old model of senior living required them to move out of their independent living or assisted living apartment to find additional support in a skilled nursing or memory care community.
In 2022, look for senior living communities finding new ways to serve residents in the independent or assisted living home they love through vetted, on-site home care services or via specialized early stage memory care programming.
Bringing More Healthcare Services On-Site
A quick tour of senior living communities in your area will show you that most exceptional communities offer visits from primary care physicians or specialists on-site. In 2022, this shift will continue, and more senior living communities will offer this convenience.
Watch for exceptional communities to continue to grow this feature, offering more screenings, check-ups, and other appointments in specially created medical offices right on campus. You can anticipate that senior living communities will continue to partner with local clinicians and professionals to bring their services to residents on campus without decreasing resident choice.
Challenging the Old “Activity” Model
Senior living communities are no longer simply offering a few activities per day to engage residents. Instead, there has been more focus on life enrichment programming over the past few years, thanks to new research that has pointed to the correlation between healthy socialization and overall wellness.
While there was a slow-down in the movement due to COVID-19 precautions, look for 2022 to be the year that life enrichment programs come back to the forefront. Exceptional communities will find new and innovative ways to engage and reach residents beyond a traditional activities model. You will likely find communities changing their assessment process to get to know residents better and then finding small and large group programs to meet those needs.
Speaking of challenging the traditional way of doing things, 2022 will be the year many senior living communities begin furthering their personalized care approach. For many communities, wellness will become more personalized to each individual resident. Instead of having residents participate in physical activities, emotional health activities, and other programs, wellness will become more person-centered.
Watch for communities that are asking what wellness means to each individual resident and then finding ways to coach them to those personalized goals. Communities know that wellness doesn’t need to look the same for every resident. They’ll find new ways to connect with residents, get their personal views on wellness, and assess how the community can support individual wellness goals.
Finally, as with most industries, senior living continues to leverage technology in the new year. You can expect fall-detection technology to increase in senior living settings, as well as the introduction of medical monitoring technology to become more of a staple in skilled nursing communities.
As communities incorporate more technology into resident programs, they can tailor the environment, activities, and care to each resident’s needs, as well as simplify the task of documentation for team members.
Are you ready to see what senior living can look like in the new year? Start your senior living story with the right information so you can make a confident decision as you plan for the future. We have all the resources you need to begin your research.
The content on this site is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute financial, accounting, or legal advice.