ICAA releases a conceptual framework for a reimagined senior living community designed for middle-income older adults

The secret to developing a new model of living for older adults revolves around lifestyle experiences

Where can older adults find an engaging lifestyle that is cost-effective and sustainable? The senior living organizations that offer both housing and services for people 65 years and older have an answer: develop communities that offer a bountiful lifestyle for a middle-class income while being equally cost-effective and sustainable for organizations.

The new model of communities will reach the large group of “middle income” older adults-those who are not wealthy but above poverty and low-income levels-through the combination of residence, amenities and services structured around the dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, environmental, vocational.


To frame the model, aimed at middle-income boomers (born 1946-1964) and their elders, International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) convened over 70 industry thought leaders at the ICAA Forum, May 2021. The results of the meeting are captured in the ICAA Forum report, Wellness attracts the middle-income market, available at https://www.icaa.cc//listing.php?type=white_papers

“The social isolation that occurred during the pandemic gave people a lot of time to think about what they value and how they want to live,” says Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. “Like everyone else, older adults became acutely aware of how much they missed getting together with friends and family or attending in-person events. Isolation also forced many of us to recognize how our lifestyles affect our mental and physical health. The new middle-income community is intended to answer that need for social connections.”

As the attributes of a wellness-centered community for the middle-income market developed during the ICAA Forum, demographics and psychographics, economic considerations and revenue potential focused the following strategies:


–Value and choice fuel the decision-making of people with middle incomes. They will expect a range of lifestyle experiences and dining options selected from an a la carte menu.

–Residents will be engaged in developing the activities available at the property or coordinated with the larger community; many will likely work part-time or full-time because of desire or need. This added income helps make their lifestyles at the middle-income community possible.

–The built environment will be comfortable and age-friendly rather than elegant, with common spaces easily adapted to different uses and regular access to the outdoors.

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