The Changing Priorities of 21st Century Retirement Living – Providing Choice Will Be Key

Skiing trips instead of shuffleboard, laptops instead of feet on tabletops: Today’s retirees are playing and living under a much different set of priorities than previous generations. Words like choice, flexibility, fit and active are much more the 21st century vernacular than comfortable, relaxed and passing the time. Oh sure, today and tomorrow’s retirees still want to be safe and secure, but on their feet and on their own terms. Having a range of choices is now and will be a big part of the new face of retirement. So will health and fitness, which will better enable seniors to make those choices.

It’s no secret that more elderly are living longer and in better health than ever before. Boomers, the me generation, will continue to try to do things they’ve always liked to do, pushing the envelope as they go. A 2006 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry said the happiest retirees are those who have a sense of purpose and participate in activities they enjoy. According to, retirement now is a liberating experience filled with options never before available because seniors are healthier and more active.

The retirement and senior living communities that provide and adapt to this changing scenario will thrive along with the retirees. One frequent choice that’s high on the 55 plus generation’s short list is having easy access to resources for staying fit. According to a recent article, nine out of the 10 top builders in the U.S. are constructing active adult communities that typically will have 20,000 to 40,000 square-foot fitness centers. Aging expert Roger Landry says one of the secrets to aging successfully is to follow the adage “use it or lose it,” from both a mental and physical perspective. Whether it’s a choice in lifestyle, healthcare, services, cultural programs or amenities, having options will be critical to the retiree and provider. Home ownership or rentals, active adult, independent or assisted living, CCRC or unbundled healthcare, dining options, and a lineup of diverse group activities are just several of the basics. Wireless cafes – older adults are the fastest growing group of Internet users – personal trainers, on-site banking and concierge service are just the tip of an array of evolving options. For example, while the rental model now works for many retirees, a recent Australian study showed that seniors are attracted to buying homes later in life, as long as that house is in an independent living community. About 75 percent of the 1,000 seniors surveyed in the study said they would rather live in village setting than dorm-like assisted living, and 64 percent said they wanted to buy their own home in a community. A little over a third said they wanted to have their pets with them. And many so-called retirees want to keep on working, which will bring along a whole new set of choices. Albeit there are and will be financial issues and challenges, but retirement living companies that make providing choices a priority will be in step with a growing number of the people they serve. “What are my choices?” This will be a key question asked by 21st century retirees from New Jersey to California and around the globe.


About The Author

Sherry Wagner is the Executive Director at Princeton Windrows, an independent living retirement community in Princeton, New Jersey, specializing in enhanced retirement living for active adults, 55 and better. For more information, visit their website at

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
  • St. Barnabas Senior Services

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