Elderly Facilities: A History

The future of eldercare in the United States is a hot topic for government agencies, politicians and senior groups nationwide. The “Baby-Boomer” generation is getting older and many are becoming senior citizens by the day.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 35 million people who were 65 years of age or older. That figure represented about 12% of the U.S. population, and is only expected to grow larger with time.

The increasing needs of the senior demographic have led to an evolution of luxury amenities for seniors and their overall needs. As more adults become 65, there are more elderly facilities being built and ways created to cater to this fast-growing demographic group.

The Evolution of Elderly Facilities

In past years, retirees went to live in communities often called “old folks homes.” These homes usually consisted of a small house with four or more residents and a live-in caretaker. Over the years, retirement homes have become more elaborate and expensive. They often resemble luxury apartment communities and can house up to several hundred residents at a time and employ even more staff members.

As elderly facilities evolved, they began to cater to different segments of the elderly population, now offering at least one of three levels of care:

Independent Living
In recent years, independent living communities have become very popular. Many retirees who no longer wish to live on their own, find the same comforts of home living among people in their own age group. Many facilities have formal dining rooms, personal luxury suites and other great amenities.

Assisted Living
For seniors who are slowing down, having a harder time taking care of daily chores and/or begin to show signs of memory loss, assisted living can provide needed support and companionship. Assisted living communities employ professional caregivers to help seniors live safely and comfortably.

Skilled Nursing
Although many seniors would prefer to live independently, living needs can often change overnight. A fall, surgery or chronic health condition can lead to a senior needing the skills of a professional nurse 24 hours a day. Since major hospitals are not geared to handle long-term care, many seniors move into a skilled nursing facility (also known as a nursing home) after prolonged medical treatment.

The Future of Elderly Facilities

Taking care of the elderly has become big business. It has grown so much that major hospitality chains have invested millions of dollars into constructing and running these facilities. Many elderly facilities are operated like major corporations, catering to residents’ needs and providing additional services and amenities for a fee.

As more adults age and become senior citizens, the senior living industry will continue to expand and the quality of the accommodations, amenities and services provided by elderly facilities will increase.

Written by senior housing staff writer.