Age-restricted communities marketed toward retirees are changing to keep residents safe during the pandemic. Popular amenities and community activities that initially attracted many residents are now on hold as operators prioritize health. Though some communities have found workarounds such as staggered dining to continue some services, experts in the retirement community expect demand to decrease while the costs of keeping residents safe increase. CNBC reports that the $73 billion industry is going to take a massive hit in the coming years as homeowners look to age in place as modifying their current homes seems like a safer option than risking living near other at-risk individuals during another pandemic.
At the private retirement community where 90-year-old Lee lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, the last scheduled social event was a Valentine’s Day dance in February.
A few weeks later, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised anyone 60 or older to stay home. There have been no more potluck dinners, poker games, special outings or other social activities scheduled at Lee’s complex. And it’s unclear to her when that may change.
“We are more or less locked down and not allowed to mix with each other,” said Lee, who asked that her last name and residence not be used, for privacy reasons. “We’re not allowed to have any visitors except family, and we have to wear a mask.”