Have you ever imagined that the individuals born somewhere around 1946-64 can influence the country’s most dynamic industry – the healthcare industry? They do. This game-changing generation who survived all odds to reach 70 are aging rapidly given the current socio-economic and environmental changes.
Do you know that nearly 1 out of 5 drivers in the US is a baby boomer, thanks to increasing life expectancy rates! Statistics report that around 3.4 million babies are born in the first year (1946) of the Baby Boomers’ generation.
That’s a huge number!
There are several reports analyzing the medical, demographical and psychological conditions of baby boomers aged 65 and above. One common and most essential takeaway from all these reports is that the older population has also contributed to high rates of chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and diabetes among other illnesses that demand long-term treatment and care.
“The number of Americans ages 65 years and above, is projected to rise by more than 100% to reach over 98 million by 2060 as compared to 46 million in 2016. This group is expected to comprise 24% of the country’s population by 2060 as compared to 15% currently.” – The Population Reference Bureau Report, January 2016
If you’re wondering how these statistics can be related to the Interior Design industry, you need to understand that any changes in the healthcare industry are directly proportional to the healthcare design sector, and here’s how.
Less is the new More!
Baby Boomers are among the significant contributors to the design industry on residential and commercial fronts as well. Given the retirement, lower income and healthcare expenses, the baby boomer generation is downsizing on their homes and furniture needs. However, they are not compromising on comfort, style and function.
This demographic is spending more on healthcare and seeking custom-made interiors that accommodate their decreased ability and mobility needs, with adequate space and less clutter. Hence, residential designs that require low maintenance and needs low physical effort have become the need of the hour.
Changing the face of clinic design needs
The PRB Report also highlighted that about 2.3 million Americans aged 65 years and above would need nursing home care by 2030 – a drastic 75% rise since 2010. This could be attributed to specialized care, better medical treatments and increased life expectancy.
Considering the need for regular monitoring, long-term hospital stays, regular and frequent visitors, psychological conditions and physical limitations of this demographic, hospital interiors are being customized. Baby Boomers want things to be placed within reach, recessed lighting, calmer surroundings, adequate room to get around, no brighter colors, zero clutter and much more. Be it an additional peep hole at a lower height, additional set of railings on the stairs, anti-slippery mats and rugs in living and bath areas, healthcare interior design has adapted itself to the changing clinical care needs of the Baby Boomers.
Aging population means growing opportunities to interior designers
The aging population of baby boomers, while calling out interior designers to customize their design strategies, also represent a varied set of opportunities across both healthcare and healthcare interior design industries.
My decade-long experience says that addressing baby boomers design needs is a challenge, and we should be ready to accept that. After all, if we cannot address the interior design needs of experienced and wiser individuals, successful business with the younger generation is out of question. It all depends on how well we embrace age-related design by understanding their positive influence on interior design trends. ##