One of the largest generations today — baby boomers — have already entered or will soon enter the 65-plus age bracket.
It’s projected that not only will the U.S. senior population rise dramatically over the next decade or so, but the number of seniors will eventually outnumber just about any other age group, putting increased pressure on housing, medical care and other needs tailored to that demographic.
“Ten thousand folks a day are turning 65 in the next 18 to 19 years,” said Suzanne Pugh, president and CEO of Aldersgate, a senior living community in east Charlotte. “In less than 20 years, 20% to 25% of the population is going to be over 65, which has never happened before.”
Today, the 65-plus population in Mecklenburg County comprises about 10% of all residents, according to county and U.S. Census data — lower than North Carolina and the United States, both of which are about 15%. But the number of older adults here and elsewhere continues to rise quickly — the senior population grew 3% annually here from 2000 to 2010, according to Mecklenburg County data.
Senior housing has also become a more attractive sector for commercial real estate investment, in direct response to changing demographics nationally.
A CBRE report from last year notes that private-equity buyers and REITS have entered the senior housing and care space more aggressively in recent years, accounting for 77% of all transaction activity in that sector in 2018. The report also noted that senior housing continues to provide a yield premium over conventional multifamily investment.
In response, Charlotte senior communities like Aldersgate — once called continuing-care retirement communities but now more commonly referred to as “life plan” communities — are investing hundreds of millions in expansions to address not only the rapid influx of seniors but also changes in lifestyle preferences.