With the promise of COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, there’s hope the nation can return to some kind of normalcy in the coming year. Eyeing the post-pandemic world, lockdown-weary active seniors are ready to cut loose and enjoy themselves.
Many are sharpening their focus on independent-living communities that not only provide creature comforts and an aesthetically pleasing brick-and-mortar living environment, but hospitality-inspired entertainment, trips and outings enabling highly-sought connections.
Saying, in effect, “Let us entertain you,” is good business for senior living communities. As an industry executive noted, it’s one thing to welcome age 80-something residents forced to give up their homes for senior living. It’s quite another to deliver a hospitality-like setting so attractive it doesn’t feel like a retirement environment to well-heeled active seniors.
The result: Savvy senior communities are emphasizing the delivery of socially-focused programming to bring mature adults together in fun, entertaining and educational ways once they’re safely able to drop the masks and rub shoulders again.
What types of programs fit within this broad and expanding category?
Options might include those ranging from TED talks and wine-and-cheese tastings to cultural outings to area theaters and virtual reality experiences. At least one independent-living community operator not only serves up these types of entertainments, but places their mature adult residents in charge of choosing which divertissements will be offered.
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A quick look at the range of activities offered at well-regarded senior living communities show keeping residents entertained and enlightened is as key as the physical setting itself.
At Newton, Mass.-based Five Star Senior Living, a continuing care retirement communities company, the range of enrichments include martini mixers, museum and theater outings, photography classes, movie matinees, poker and bridge get-togethers, fishing trips, film screenings, lecture series, creative writing, dancing, painting and poetry workshops.
Meantime, Chicago-based Vi Senior Living places a decided focus on the highbrow. The offerings include outings to local theaters, ballets and cultural centers, guest speakers and university-sponsored lectures, along with somewhat less-cerebral beach excursions.
At Seattle-based Merrill Gardens Senior Living, the entertainment in any given week can include jazz concerts, national food day celebrations, skits, bread baking, TED talks, giant crossword puzzles, pet therapy and scenic drives.
Among the most creative in entertaining residents is Denver-based Spectrum Retirement. Spectrum residents nationwide, along with their families and the staffs, have vied to create the best gingerbread house. In gridiron-crazed Ohio, Spectrum communities hosted open-to-the-public tailgate parties, where residents and the local citizenry came together to root for the Ohio State Buckeyes on football Saturdays.
Another senior living community company stressing hospitality-inspired entertainment is Revel Communities, whose communities include Revel Vegas in Las Vegas, and Revel Nevada in Henderson, respectively in and near one of the world’s entertainment capitals.
Revel targets the eternally vacation-minded resident with a lineup of entertainment-focused amenities that rival those offered in resort activity packages. It also prides itself on putting the programming decision-making in the hands of residents.
Entertainment options at Revel Communities are customized to residents’ lifestyles and preferences, and based on location may include such offerings as creative artist studios and horticultural fun within community gardens.
Revel recently displayed its commitment to keeping residents entertained with its elevation of two industry veterans with long experience in that end of the business.
Adding Ginni Ryan and Danette Opaczewski to the executive leadership team, Revel reported, should take the company past offerings like Drag Bingo to enrichment programs and entertainment fueled offerings. Among them may be the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, a UCLA Extension Program, letting residents leverage non-credit online courses to continue lifelong learning.
“We strive to prioritize the people side of our business,” said Jay Petkunas, chief executive officer at The Wolff Company. The firm is a private equity, development and management company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Revel its senior-living brand.
“Adept in both delivering authentic hospitality and creating lifestyle experiences that resonate with senior residents, both Danielle and Ginni bring the perfect balance to diversify our executive team. We have every confidence they will help us raise the bar in senior living.”