Relationships and our interactions with others fundamentally define our happiness. This is even more evident when talking about seniors. AARP reports the divorce rate has doubled for those over 50 years of age since 1990. Also according to AARP, there are many reasons associated with this this surge, including long-term relationship deflation and decline, changes in lifestyle, health, children’s lives, and much more. Overall, it seems the most common theme is simply living very different lives with little common overlap for long periods of time. Divorce may be the right solution for failing relationships, but it also presents potential obstacles such as loss of support networks, financial challenges, loneliness, boredom and depression which can be very stressful.
As a result, we see more singles who want to be entertained and socialize entering senior living communities. Often, due to their relationship changes, the community essentially becomes their family unit. With spouses no longer being a primary consideration, the responsibility to provide meaningful experiences for residents has fallen to the community activities director. Tim Burris, A Place for Mom's Market Development Coach for the Southeast region reports, "The clubs are responding by supplementing their staffs with independent activity directors to keep this new wave of seniors satisfied."
Technology has certainly played a role by way of individual entertainment via television, movies on demand, interactive games, and electronic community calendars, but this new wave of single seniors will demand more. Communities have come a long way from bingo and blood pressure, and continue to increase and vary their offerings to entice seniors. The evolution of how seniors socialize continues and requires a bit more specificity than organizing mass events and activities, as modern as they are. The expectation bar is being raised even higher. It’s no longer about putting groups of seniors together for a specific event or activity, but rather digging into their passions, hobbies and interests, and offering them opportunities to form meaningful relationships with like-minded peers. Personalization is the key to future resident engagement platforms. Seniors are interested in socializing with peers who share common interests. With niche communities on the rise, we can anticipate seeing much more along this innovative vein with the incorporation of integrated resident engagement platforms.