Senior Housing (or Independent Senior Living) is a model similar to co-living and other flexible residential models, aimed at self-sufficient people over the age of 65.
It is a fast-growing trend in the market for flexible spaces in real estate, as it intercepts an increasingly large segment of the population and satisfies social and service needs.
This model is designed explicitly for the needs of people over 65 in good health who, freed from the constraints of work, want to face their retirement years dynamically, inquisitively, and valuably.
People who have stable economic possibilities secured by retirement and wish to invest in a secure residential space with all living amenities.
The typical Senior Living configuration consists of a set of independent apartments for one or two people, generally leased out, which:
- preserve the concept of housing as a private environment, inclusive of every need and perfectly capable of meeting all needs;
- are organized around a series of common spaces and services that encourage sociability and the practice of various activities.
It is a solution that overturns the common thinking associated with old age, which is no longer to be seen as a period “of withdrawal, sedentariness and isolation,” but on the contrary almost as a return to youth, marked by moments spent in the company of other people and experienced actively.
The segment of the over-65 population is already very large and is expected to increase further, being able to meet its strongest needs:
- the social and community aspect, which is difficult to preserve as the years go by,
- services and conveniences, which simplify daily life and satisfy needs,
is the reason that is generating so much demand for Social Housing facilities and making it a viable investment today and even more profitable in the future.
In recent years, the real estate market has been highly dynamic and, supported by increasingly smart and functional technology, has been able to adapt to new and changing needs: coworking, co-living, cohousing, social housing, student housing.
Now it can do the same, answering the call represented by this segment of the population and improving the quality of life of the over-65s.In this article you will discover the essential contribution made by technology and all the potential of this model, both for residents and for owners and operators.
The birth and future of senior housing
The first housing structures attributable to Senior Housing originated in Northern Europe in the 1960s. It is a solution that is immediately appreciated and spreads to Canada, the United States, and Japan.
In Europe it expands particularly in Germany, France and the United Kingdom, countries where there is little presence of the family in a caring role.
Over the years, the model has remained true to its social nature, to which it has been able to add all the benefits of technological progress:
- Wide range of services available,
- increased security.
- Simplified and centrally managed access,
Today it is the ideal solution for an ever-increasing share of users: it is no mystery that the average age is rising. According to Eurostat statistics, in 2021 more than one-fifth (20.8 percent) of the EU population was over 65 years old.
In Italy, the most recent ISTAT demographic surveys indicate that as early as the beginning of 2022 the over-65 age group constitutes 23.8 percent of the population (14 million 46 thousand individuals) and will reach 32 percent by 2065.
Senior Housing: the explosion of the trend
These numbers give us a picture of society where the over-65s, both as a household and as an individual, will occupy more and more space, destined to increase further due to low birth rates and longer life spans.
Senior Living represents in this social context the ideal model for meeting the needs of these people, ensuring an active social life, within a facility equipped with comforts and services, totally protected.
And thanks to technology that is increasingly serving and tailored to the person, the management of all access to the facility’s environments, common and private, is made simple and plays a key role in neutralizing barriers for those with mobility impairments, functioning as a true pass for each gateway, which can be opened remotely with smartphones (or other media).
In addition, every need, from laundry to specialized medical visits, can be integrated among the services available to residents and be immediately available and easy to book:
the technology platform thus becomes a true ecosystem, which develops and improves along with the people who use it.
At the same time, outside vendors and staff will also be able to take advantage of the technological facilities to access the facility, at the times and in the manner predetermined by the building manager, aspects that ensure efficiency and safety.
The weight of the over-65s on the economy will be increasing: as the size of the population group and their propensity for a life lived to the full grows, the share of spending generated by them will grow.
There are valuable elements for investors to consider:
- this age group can prove to be a goldmine of opportunities and gains for those who can meet their needs, starting today, by earning revenues from rents and integrated services;
- represents a market that is still undervalued and marked by individuals with stable incomes, an element that should not be underestimated, especially considering the frequent periods of economic crisis and the reduction in workers’ purchasing power;
- flexible spaces are already well established within society and are revolutionizing the way we live and work; for those accustomed to these solutions, social housing will be the natural next step tomorrow.
- it is possible to integrate countless services directly into the building or in collaboration with local businesses, in total security, thanks to the available technological solutions, effectively activating service offerings as well.
Handbook for the accessible real estate revolution
What Senior Housing is NOT.
To understand the potential inherent in the Senior Housing model, it is important to know the differences with solutions that might seem similar on the surface.
Specifically, one might mistakenly confuse it with nursing homes, RSAs and RSDs, facilities, however, that cater to non-self-sufficient individuals and offer care support tailored to their needs and problems.
The ideal solution for those people who are in constant need of medical support or for dependent elderly people who are left alone or cannot be taken care of by family.
Unlike senior living, there are no independent apartments; people occupy rooms (single or shared) with a constant presence of caregivers.
These facilities also have common spaces to encourage social interaction and allow people to feel less lonely. Several activities can be undertaken, in line with the possibilities of the residents and organized by those who manage the facility.
Nursing homes (RSAs)
Their function is to give a home to the most frail people, who are cared for 24 hours a day by doctors and nurses.
Each individual guest needs specific attention, and activities are generally calibrated to each person’s needs.
Health care residences for the disabled (RSD)
They are places where residents encounter fewer obstacles caused by their disability and have a more independent lifestyle.
The main goal of RSDs is to enable people with disabilities to live in a safe and barrier-free environment so as to encourage them to feel independent and take care of themselves.
All with a constant presence of medical care team and preserving an interaction with the family.
In health care facilities, an access control system that can simplify the management of large staffs, monitor sensitive equipment and cope with emergencies is essential:
Find out here how Sofia Locks’ system can improve management and security in any healthcare facility
From assisted living facilities to senior housing
Assisted living facilities predominate in Italy, and only a fraction of facilities for the over-65s are for self-sufficient people.
But in today’s society, the Senior Housing model is bound to carve out important spaces and exponentially increase in popularity.
The general improvement in quality of life and medical options that allow people to remain in excellent health even as they age, combined with the decreasing availability (in terms of time and proximity) of younger generations to their parents, naturally drives the self-sufficient over-65s to seek community solutions.
Having already conquered the world and much of Europe, today Senior Housing is also being recognized in Italy for its important social function and as a perfect response to market demands and population needs, attracting both public and private interests.
The three pillars of senior housing
We have seen how, thanks to Senior Housing, the third age can be lived to the fullest, on the one hand preserving private and intimate spaces, and on the other hand with shared places and services that ensure a social life and help maintain healthy mental and physical capacities.
Compared not only with early attempts at Senior Housing, but also with those of a few years ago, the potential expressed by this solution today has the added benefit of smart and enabling technology, which in addition to Manage and simplify all the access control part provides a wide range of services.
According to WHO, the pillars of active aging are participation, health and safety , all areas in which, as we shall see below, the role of technology has a great impact.
All environments, indoor and outdoor, are designed to foster exchanges between people and keep interests alive, so as to improve the quality of life through sociality and combat loneliness and alienation.
There may be: indoor and outdoor recreation rooms, gymnasium, bar, TV/Cinema room, swimming pool, spaces for parties or where to entertain family and friends, outdoor places dedicated to mobility and the opportunity to spend time in the green.
Common spaces are the heart of Social Housing; their managed and controlled access has a key function for the optimal utilization of different areas.
Support and privacy
Residents, thanks to agreements with specialized centers or outpatient clinics, have the possibility to book checkups and medical examinations, quickly and even at home, at their smartphone.
And in cases where access is needed by physicians and health care workers, such as for the rehabilitation path after an operation, one can conveniently receive care without tiring travel and with full respect for privacy, thanks to smartphone-managed access control and temporary enablers.
One of the problems that has emerged in recent years concerns the increase in theft and fraud against people of a certain age.
The issue of security is crucial in Social Living housing complexes: any access point, from the common areas to the individual doors of the dwelling, Is managed through smart systems that allow residents to move around easily while blocking any intrusion attempts By those who do not have clearances.
In unfortunate cases of loss or theft of the access device (e.g., badge or smartphone), you can promptly report what has happened for an immediate blocking of access credentials and an equally prompt generation of new credentials. There is no comparison when considering how long, expensive, and invasive the intervention times are when the same situation involves a physical key.
All common areas are managed through a centralized system and provide access to authorized personnel only when necessary.
Family members also benefit because, in addition to knowing that relatives are safe, they can manage visits more independently, especially in those temporary situations marked by severe limitation, due to illness or rehabilitation phase.
Senior housing in Italy: from social function to market growth
In Italy, the development of this model has been gaining momentum for a few years, and recently there has been a strong acceleration by investors.
The interesting fact is that in Spain, a state more similar to Italy in demographic characteristics and family background, development started a few years ago and has found fertile ground, growing and representing a well-established segment today.
There is still a wide gap between supply and demand in the Italian market, an aspect closely watched by investors, as well as the steady revenue streams that this solution guarantees.
The growth of social housing is facilitated not only by the rising demographic of the over-65 self-sufficient group, which will bring more and more potential users into this market, but also by:
- the inadequacy of owner-occupied housing, which is unsuitable for single people and/or whose management will become too expensive (oversized and with excessive utility costs, obsolete facilities, presence of architectural barriers and inadequate space, unsafe);
- state support for active aging of the population, so as to curb the use of nursing homes and achieve savings in public spending.
A real confirmation of the state’s interest in promoting investment in Social Living facilities is the project promoted by INPS through its property management fund “Aristotle Senior,” on which INPS President Pasquale Tridico said:
“I am proud of this project for the development of innovative social infrastructure that will enable efficient and widespread response to our country’s sociodemographic trends.
Also with this operation, the Institute acts as a pivot, coagulating other realities in an investment for welfare, in a strategic sector such as the silver economy, and tying it to a high-quality social objective to guarantee the elderly a context of welfare and care, as well as sociality.”
Senior Housing is a model that is attractive to both the public administration and private investors, because in addition to the many benefits to the individual, it contributes to the redevelopment of the area by providing it with a structure with a high social impact-a contribution that is even stronger if it starts with the redevelopment of abandoned areas-and leads to the formation of a community with growth effects on the economy in the surrounding area.
The potential of smart and access control technology in senior housing
We have seen the great impact that senior housing will have in the real estate market and the role that technology plays in making it a sustainable, flexible, inclusive model with enormous commercial potential.
In particular, smart technology is integrated into the Senior Living model in the two fundamental areas of security and flexibility. Below we have selected the main aspects managed and their benefits.
Access control technology to ensure security
- Management of common areas;
- Remote control with real-time notifications;
- Integration into centralized management of security doors in individual homes;
- Facilitated management for those with motor limitations;
- Independent accessibility of guests.
Hardware and software technology for maximum flexibility
- Centralized software platform that enables real-time configurations for common space management;
- Management of temporary operator and health care access;
- Temporary access management for maintenance personnel;
- Reduction of 75% in the amount of hardware installed resulting in lower costs;
- Ability to easily adapt the structure with respect to changing needs over time due to reduced hardware and software customization.
All these technological possibilities are included:
- In Luckey software : Sofia Locks’ PropTech access control system.
- In the HyperLocks range of hardware : the versatile smart locks that revolutionize installation and maintenance time and costs
Senior Housing: an opportunity to be seized in Italian real estate
Senior Housing, established globally and increasingly present in Europe, represents an unmissable structural opportunity for Italy.
In our country, life expectancies are among the highest in the world, and the current model of senior management is outdated and beginning to lose its attractiveness, Senior Housing is destined to be a strategic asset for the entire housing market.
For once, coming in behind other European countries is not a disadvantage: those investing in Italy today have clear reference points to evaluate the competitiveness of this model and the returns it offers.
Real estate operators who can move quickly to consolidate their market position in Senior Housing will become a benchmark in the industry and benefit from all the benefits that characterize this model:
- is a great way to diversify assets, with virtually no risk;
- is a solution that addresses the needs of a specific segment of the population, over-65 retirees, who have an assured income;
- is the answer to the increasing demand for customized housing solutions perfect for the working elderly population;
- is a stable model because it is not based on momentary economic trends but on an established demographic trend that is difficult to change;
- is a source of continuous income, guaranteed by rents and basic and optional services;
- services can be tailored to specific needs, thanks to technology, so as to increase revenues through tailored proposals.
Sofia Locks has played a leading role in spreading new trends in real estate for years.
We apply digital technology and platform economy to the real estate market for new investment opportunities.
Through the development of enabling and functional hardware and software solutions that perfectly meet different needs and adapt to rapid changes, we are the ideal partner to conquer the real estate market: for any information contact us here.