The response to the issue of retirement living in Ireland has, in the main, been concentrated in the Nursing Home sector or in private retirement villages close to the sea, lakes or golf courses. The demographics have involved up until now the core of the “stoic” generation of non-complaining people who have survived trials and hardships during their lives and do not want to “cause trouble” for their children.
The market is well set up for this need but it is changing fast, too fast for many in the industry. The word retirement is anathema to the “boomer’ generation, born after the Second World War. These people grew up in the sixties, an era of space exploration, flower power, rock and protest music and free education for all, and drugs! The ideas and cultural development that flourished in the sixties still influences our lives and those of later generations. Today’s “boomers” are well educated, individualistic, rich in culture and assets (but not necessarily money).
These individuals will not be led, they have aspirations and ambitions they wish to pursue. They don’t retire. They embark on a new career that reflects their position in life, education at prestigious universities, (for example, if they had been deprived of opportunities in their early life).
If we accept that “boomers” are not interested in nursing home care, what then for the nursing home sector? They must come to meet the customer and in doing so, change their attitudes and bring health and support to people in their homes. They will need to provide help with everything from dealing with doctors/chemists to general household tasks in the homes of their clients. Nursing homes will be needed to support the medical accommodation needs of dementia sufferers, and the increase in younger aged people damaged by drug overuse in their youth is another area that is in need of support. Nursing homes will focus on the medical needs of such patients, but their ethos and service, admirable though they are, have no attraction for the “boomer” who does not wish to be reminded of ageing or illness.