Backed by prescience gained through hard-won experience, leaders share how lifestyle and care will evolve in coming years to anticipate and exceed the needs and expectations of older Canadians.
In our Inspiring Leaders Series, we interview visionaries driven by a passion for excellence that’s manifest in Canada’s most innovative retirement communities.
Quality relationships [are going to] mean everything! Understanding the needs of a human in different stages of their life is critical. When someone is not engaged for some reason, it's up to us to fix that. It's up to us to [give] them something that is going to improve their quality of life.
Two things come to mind for me. The first big one is active living, active ageing, no longer one-size-fits-all. It's about living a great life in the last, call it 10 to 15 years of your life, not moving into … I hate to use this terminology because we don't use it, but … moving into "an old folks’ home." It's about moving to an environment where you're with peers, you're actively living a life that is stimulating and that you can count on. So that's the first thing is, there's going to be that.
The second thing that dovetails from that is the demand for that. I think boomers … and I'm a boomer … I think boomers are going to demand that senior living adapt to their needs, and [be] vital and vibrant and have nuances that are different for different types of people. It's not a one size fits all.
I think that they will want to live that healthy social lifestyle. They will be looking for providers to give them that.
I think we need to be very cognizant of the fact that people are living longer, which is very good news. However, with longevity comes illness at times. So, we do have a dedicated MemoryPlus neighborhood in our Richmond Hill location that has been very successful. And we are planning to build more MemoryPlus neighborhoods. Certainly, we see the need for having a dedicated dementia care neighborhood. Many operators would certainly speak to that in the same lens.
I think it's important to have many different types of service levels. So, if we’re offering, for example, apartment living designed for residents that are just now maybe downsizing from a large home and still wanting some independence along the way with regard to cooking and other things that they'd like to do, then that option will exist within a Delmanor community. And others are doing a similar model.
When we look at, what can retirement operators offer older adults living in a retirement setting, it’s about being able to age successfully and being able to support them to the best of our ability. By offering independent living and assisted living and in some cases, memory care, [this] is definitely a responsibility that we take seriously.
Seniors are retiring now with a lot more wealth. The boomers are the wealthiest demographic ever to retire. So, they have the means. Now they're looking for the lifestyle to go with that. It's not just about... subsistence, and housing, and food, and a clean place to live. It's about lifestyle, enjoying all the various years of our lives. It should be better, quite frankly, and it is for our independent lifestyle. There's no reason that can't be applied to assisted living and long-term care.
I see buildings in the future that basically have its own little city, where there's stores, there's the doctors, there's everything that's medical, massage therapists, dentists that are nearby, and [all] easy to access because that also allows the residents to embrace independence. OPAL is all about enhancing one's lifestyle, but at the same time fostering their independence. I think the industry needs to understand that. And what can we do, as a whole, to help these residents live as long as possible and to maximize their life as long as possible?
We're about to see the most number of seniors ever in the history of this country. So, the good news for those individuals who are now going to be hitting those years [and asking] where they will want to think about, where do they want to live, how do they want to live, which operator do they want to be supported by? The good news is there's going to be tremendous investment by the public sector and by the private sector to take … some of the approaches that we've had as an operator over the last number of years, but to amplify that significantly.
I think the perspective is going to be that seniors’ housing [and] senior living communities are going to be tremendously attractive two to three years from now because of all of the innovation and investment that's going to be coming into the sector.