People are living longer these days. In Singapore, seniors can expect to live up to the age of 84 – which is among the longest lifespans in the world. This longer lifespan can be attributed to our excellent healthcare infrastructure and high quality medical and nursing care. But many seniors will spend between 8 – 10 years in poor health. And a minority will inevitably end up in our nursing homes and other community care facilities.
The commonly held perception of a “typical aging uncle and auntie” is changing. As life expectancy continues to rise, the new face of aging would include seniors who are better educated, better travelled, more diverse, more IT-savvy and with a higher preference for “care experience” instead of just providing basic nursing care.
Leaders in this aged-care segment, who are prepared to adjust and enhance their delivery model to suit the needs of these aged seniors would be able to get ahead of the curve as the demand for senior living homes spiral upwards.
As the baby boomer generation enters the senior living market, the perception that nursing home as “a place to die” must be completely eradicated. This transformation of perception, if successful, represents new opportunities for service-providers to elevate its senior living experiences.
This transformation would include new investments to re-design its communal facilities and model of care aimed primarily at promoting, privacy independence and dignity for our seniors.
Studies has shown that this new generation of seniors would also like the opportunity to remain physically fit and socially active while living in a care community. Group classes like Qigong, Tai chi, yoga, aerobics, water aerobics, mindfulness, strength training can be promoted to keep these seniors actively occupied.
Other purposeful hobbies like gardening, cooking, pet care, mahjong, karaoke, movies, arts, music lesson, reading clubs, arts and crafts can be introduced to increase social interaction and cultivate close relationships in our transformed senior homes.
From the perspective of food and nutrition, new seniors would expect a greater variety of menu choices and theme dining experiences. Inspiring home-style cooking can be combined with occasional hawker experiences and restaurant standard festive menus to replace mundane catered meals. Therapeutic texture modified and soft diets can be presented or molded tastefully for seniors with Dysphagia.
As the world’s population continues to age, the call for senior living transformation continues to be louder. It is important for leaders in this care sector to relook at their existing framework and explore new care delivery models for this fast-changing demographics.
It is without a doubt that change in “care experience” in our senior living sector will be driven by this new generation of seniors, opening up new possibilities and service offerings for senior care and community care providers.