A man boom is coming, and it will make the senior scene of tomorrow vastly different from the one today.
Forget the baby boom. A man boom is coming, and it will make the senior scene of tomorrow vastly different from the one today.
Instead of a sea of women in senior communities, nursing homes and adult daycare centres, Census projections predict the population will even out as life expectancy spikes for males and flattens out for females. The result: a more equal ratio of guys to gals age 75-plus by the year 2040.
That’s why man caves and couples apartments and men-only support groups may be part of retirement living in the near future.
“It will be interesting to see if we have enough men that they’re finally asking the women to dance, rather than otherwise,” said Edith Lederberg, executive director of the Ageing and Disability Resource Centre of Broward County in Florida, the United States, which plans local senior services.
By the time South Floridians who are in their 40s and 50s today are hanging out in retirement community clubhouses, they’ll find almost eight men there for every 10 women, according to Sun Sentinel projections based on the 2010 Census. That compares with six men to 10 women in Broward County in 2012, a jump that translates into tens of thousands of more men.
A more balanced number of elder men and women has big implications for how people will live as they age.
They’ll want different kinds of housing, including facilities geared toward couples, activities that cater to both genders, and support groups focused on the specific challenges that male caregivers may face.
In senior housing, South Florida ageing experts are beginning to consider what this will mean and how to prepare for it.
“I see this as a significant shift,” said Bruce M. Gibson, principal of Senior Capital Advisors in North Miami, which handles the financing, sale and development of senior housing projects.
Typically, the average resident in an assisted-living facility or nursing home is a widowed female, Gibson said. Having more men, and probably more elder couples entering long-term care together, will change the way new facilities are constructed and older ones are renovated, he said.
Common living arrangements today have two single females, often unrelated, sharing a nursing-home room or an assisted-living apartment, Gibson said. He predicts nursing homes will shift toward private rooms, and assisted-living centres will build one-bedroom units to accommodate couples.
Senior communities and centres will need to offer activities and classes that men like, in an atmosphere where they’re comfortable.
The Volen Centre, a senior and community centre in Boca Raton, is creating a “man cave”: a room with a large-screen television locked onto the sports channels, and comfortable chairs “where men can just hang out,” said Jared Policano, the centre’s senior director of operations.
Men also will increasingly have to step into caregiver roles, as they will live long enough to see partners developing diseases like Alzheimer’s or having a stroke. At this point, there are few caregiver resources targeting men. For example, there are no men-only support groups in Broward County listed by the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter.
“This is a trend that is creeping up on us, and we need to expand our services,” said Mary Barnes, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Community Care, a social service agency. “There really is a gender difference when it comes to caregiving.”
What’s behind the senior man boom? A combination of better medical treatments and health habits.
Dr Daniel Jimenez, an assistant professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, said the male life span is increasing partly because of advances in treating cardiovascular disease, more common in men.
The upswing in smokers kicking the habit also has contributed, Jimenez said, because a higher percentage of men traditionally have smoked.
In the meantime, rates of women abusing alcohol and drugs have risen, he said. Women are increasingly shouldering workplace responsibilities and stress along with caring for their children and sometimes ageing parents, Jimenez said, which is taking a toll on their health.
Two years ago, researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released new estimates showing men nationwide – born in 1989, 1999 and 2009 – could be expected to live up to seven years longer than those born two decades earlier. Women’s life expectancy for the same birth years, however, had slowed to a crawl.
Some places are starting to notice subtle changes already.
“We see more men coming to our senior centres than ever before, wanting to do things like shoot pool,” Lederberg said.
Men at Covenant Village of Florida, a Plantation, Florida, retirement community, say they have noticed more single male newbies in their communal dining room. Anticipating the increase, the community’s management is recruiting more single men for its newcomer mentor programme.
“I don’t feel out of place,” said Clive Fenton, 75, who moved in alone two years ago after his divorce. “It’s a welcoming group.” — Sun Sentinel/McClatchy Tribune nformation Services