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Why developers shouldn’t only cater to wealthy baby boomers

Trends affecting residential facilities for the elderly

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

Why developers shouldn’t only cater to wealthy baby boomers

Trends affecting residential facilities for the elderly

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

3 min read

It’s understandable that many developers want to create high-end retirement homes aimed at wealthy boomers – it’s a very lucrative undertaking, after all. While there’s a market for that, it’s important not to lose sight of what pensioners on lower incomes may need when it comes to housing.

This will be a lucrative undertaking too, given that our elderly population is projected to double by 2050 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s World Report on Ageing and Health says that the number of people in South Africa aged 60 years and older will more than double from 4.209 million people to around 10.06 million people in 2050.

But are developers really catering to their needs and desires? Here we look at the trends influencing residential facilities for the elderly:

They want affordability

In 2019, we wrote about ‘Why developing retirement facilities under R1.5m is a no brainer’. Costs and building materials are now more expensive in 2021, so this needs to be accounted for, but the trend for affordable housing must still be considered.

And with financial players like Old Mutual looking to create a new Pan-African affordable housing fund imminently, it makes sense for developers to get into this space – especially if they have ambitions to build beyond South Africa’s borders.

They want holistic wellness

Gone are the days when developers merely had to consider creating space for nursing facilities in developments. Nowadays, pensioners want developments to cater to their holistic health needs, which include not only their physical health but their mental wellbeing too.

They want life rights

Life rights have become more popular in South Africa because they are cost effective and offer less hassle. They appeal to pensioners who have less capital to invest and to those who don’t want to worry about maintenance and upkeep, as the developer remains the sole owner of the unit.

They want smart homes

Gogo may not be as tech savvy as an eight-year-old Fortnite fan, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t learned a thing or two during lockdown. The pandemic has forced many elderly people to familiarise themselves with technological advances such as video calls, streaming videos, and user-friendly apps.

As a result, many are now happy to have this all connected so that they can live in smart homes. It means developers must bear in mind that retirement homes, even if they’re affordable, need to have fibre-optic cabling to ensure that Wi-Fi access is a standard.

They want to ‘smartsize’ their lifestyle

We’re all familiar with the concept of ‘downsizing’. It’s an American term, which refers to people moving into a smaller home than the one they currently own. People typically do this as they retire – often so that they can unlock the cash invested in their homes.

However, a new trend is now emerging – ‘smartsizing’. This is also an American term and means that people want to create a lifestyle of simplicity and enjoyment. It’s not just about reducing the space people live in, but making sure they only use the space that they need.

It’s also about ensuring that you live in a space that gives that sense of community. One thing the pandemic taught lots of people is that reducing the isolation from friends, family and grandkids is what matters – not the size of your home.

So, while the elderly may need a home, they don’t need the space as they embrace travel or visit family and friends regularly.

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