How Baby Boomers Are Changing Our Landscape

At 75 million strong, the Baby Boom generation has had an enormous impact on our culture. And right now, as the Boomers age and become “seniors” they’re having an enormous impact on the health care field, specifically how and where health care is delivered.

It’s no surprise that aging Boomers would impact health care. Although this generation has access to more and better information about their health, their health isn’t necessarily better than that of their parents’ generation. Baby Boomers are seeing higher rates of obesity and cancer than previous generations. For health care providers, those millions of Boomers are potential customers.

One strategy for capturing that market segment can be found at your neighborhood shopping center. Because as e-commerce is causing traditional brick and mortar retail to contract, medical uses are moving into the spaces retailers have left behind. Medical facilities used to be the “tenants of last resort” but today they’re welcomed by landlords; their repurposed space is also welcome news to the municipalities they reside in.

As a result, urgent care centers, or walk-in clinics, are popping up left and right, usually affiliated with a large hospital or medical center. For the large hospital the suburban urgent care centers are an effective way to introduce themselves to new customers and establish new doctor-patient relationships.  Physician referrals within the hospital’s orbit help fill beds and the satellite locations help build the hospitals’ brands.  Other health services, physical therapy for example, are also attracted to suburban strip centers with their convenient locations and abundant parking. Before you know it, the old “shopping” center is a rich resource for health care services.

On a larger scale, Penn Medicine Cherry Hill is a good example of the possible scope of a system’s suburban satellite. Penn’s sprawling location features an on-site lab, imaging, a retail pharmacy and programs that cover cardiology, urology, sleep, orthopedics and many more areas of health.

Another major change driven by aging Boomers is the residential real estate market. As Boomers become empty nesters, many are selling their suburban homes and choosing a smaller, more urban home style. The new “town centers” that are being developed on sites that used to be malls feature a mixed-use format that includes retail, residential, lots of trees and a pedestrian-friendly design. With a diverse tenant mix these town centers usually include some medical use as well.

Communities that are clearly age-restricted—55+ for example—are also on the upswing.  And Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRC’s, offer residential formats that span the aging process. From independent living to assisted care, skilled nursing and memory care.

The Baby Boomers are making their significant presence known and felt as they age. As impactful as the 75 million Boomers are, imagine what changes the 81 million Millennials will demand when they hit their golden years. The only thing we can be sure of? Things will change.

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