Real estate is a kissing cousin of the life insurance and annuity sectors. Life insurers invest some of their general account cash in real estate, mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Customers use the income from permanent life and annuity products to pay for housing.

Here’s an article from our sister publication, GlobeSt.com, about a topic close to any income planner or long-term care planner’s heart: where aging baby boomers will be living. This is the first of five GlobeSt.com articles about intersections between your universe and the real estate universe that we’ll be running this week.

Senior living apartments are going to be “the next big thing,” as the baby boomer generation ages and continues to move into urban markets.

Multi-unit interior and exterior design firm Straight Designs aims to create a new model for senior living properties. The company’s luxury communities include stunning clubhouses and swimming pools, along with floor plans that accommodate mobility aids.

“Everyone in the multi-unit industry knows that senior living apartments are the next big thing, especially in an effort to accommodate for all of the baby boomers that are entering this specific market,” according to Andrew Baek, the creative director at Straight Designs.

“The big difference now is that we are moving away from your typical ‘grandma’s home aesthetic, and now turning this around to create an amazing space that anyone in any age group would love to live in,” Baek says. “We are trying to change the mold of the vision of senior living by completely erasing the lines between age groups when you enter any of our renovations. We aim to always make sure that our designs scream resort-style living, regardless of location or ‘set’ markets.”

(Related: Manhattan Gets $20,000-a-Month Homes for New Breed of Seniors)

Design has never been a central focus of senior living, but the increasing demand for quality spaces proved that the market needed a new, updated approach.

“There is a clear visual when you think of senior living design,” Solomon Mansoor, principal designer at Straight Designs, says. “That thought alone is why the entire market needs a new approach. The senior living market is currently full of neutral tones that all just mesh together to create an unimpactful space. There is rarely any excitement or color at all in these types of properties.”

Design for the senior living market needs to be approached in a new and rejuvenating direction, Mansoor says.

Straight Designs says it treats a senior living project much as it would treat a standard multifamily project, and provides a similar amenities package, along with the services that seniors need.

“Why take away innovation just because the apartment is catering to senior living?” Mansoor asks. “It makes no sense to conform to that way of thinking through design when there are so many other possibilities for fresh and unique ideas that can make a space just as special for senior residents as they can for younger residents.”

Baek says it’s crucial to stay progressive.

“It’s also very important and helpful,” he says, “if developers and all parties involved understand that our intent is to cater to an incoming demographic that will surely succeed and replace the last of the ‘yester-year wool-knit’ senior living generation.”

Straight Designs says that, in the future, we can expect to see more quality, well-designed and amenitized senior living projects.

“Senior living consists now of a massive and exploding baby boomer market,” Mansoor says. “This market is as or more sophisticated and nuanced than even the current generation is, as their exposure during their teen years and beyond was directed to far more explosive, if not radical, influences during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s….This market needs to be catered to and celebrated, instead of being neglected.”

— Read Aging in Place: Considerations for Retiree Clientson ThinkAdvisor.

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