This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 29, 1999

Exclusive Retirement Communities

94 days until January 1, 2000

As the 76.4 million members of the Baby Boom generation in the US continue to age, new communities will emerge-specially designed for them. A number of these exclusive communities already exist, setting initial standards for what can be done.

Leisure World in Silver Spring, Maryland, outside Washington, DC, is one example of this type of community. The gated environment is home to about 7,000 people who live in a variety of housing types, ranging from high rise condominiums to one-level multi-unit dwellings. The community has a health club, community center, churches, shopping areas, and its own security patrol. Restrictions that prohibit children under 18 from living in the community for more than 90 days keep the population homogeneous. Leisure World is a quiet community with minimal crime or other problems.

Boomers, born between 1946 and 1965, will retire, but not quite the same way as their parents did. They'll work longer, gradually seeking to mix part-time retirement with part-time work. These folks, sliding into retirement, will look for communities with a system of graduated care. At first, they'll want totally independent living with no restrictions and no personal support. As they get older, they'll want some level of assistance-perhaps meals, transportation, or activities. The need for assistance will grow as they continue to age and become less independent. Communities specially designed for people going through this continuum of care transition will become popular.

Based on research and resident preferences, these communities will look more like parks than institutions. The serene environments will have an abundance of trees, grass, and flowers. Such green environments have been shown to reduce stress, the need for medical attention, and the dependency on prescription drugs. Expect herbal remedies and other natural approaches to care to thrive in these environments.

Long-term care providers will team with residential developers to create more of these special communities. These neighborhoods, or new towns, will feature a wide range of conveniences, security, and communications interconnectivity. Internet access will be popular as residents communicate with each other, their children, and their grandchildren electronically.


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