SCORE Westchester counselors report that their clients have expressed increased interest in exploring opportunities in the assisted living and senior services sectors. The aspiring entrepreneurs and Westchester small business owners are certainly on the right track for several reasons, not the least of which is that nationally, according to Bureau of Labor statistics, the health care sector will generate 3.2 million new jobs by 2018—more than any other industry—and most of it driven by the needs of an aging and exponentially growing population.
Closer to home in the Hudson Valley region, the health care sector is projected to provide 36 percent of job creation through 2020, according to the New York State Plan on Aging (2011-2015). In Westchester, assisted living facilities will no doubt account for a significant part of that growth. As The New York Times reported on July 28, 2011, Building with the Elderly in Mind: “After a several year hiatus, four assisted living facilities and a continuing care community are finally being developed in Westchester County, an underserved market with a large and rapidly growing population of wealthy elderly residents, builders say.”
The article went on to explain that projections from the county’s planning department indicate that Westchester’s 60 and over population is expected to increase 34 percent by 2030, reaching 244,690. Meanwhile, the number of residents 85 years and older has increased over the last decade by 29 percent to 22,727 and is expected to climb to 26,585 by 2035. As Frank Rose, an adviser to the assisted living industry noted, “In Westchester and the rest of the country, the demand has never been greater.”
At the same time, the sheer size of the baby boomer population—78 million strong—who are expected to work after retirement and outlive their parents—will create an increased demand for services that meet their quality of life needs.
Andrew Carle, founding director of George Mason University’s program in senior housing administration, recently described the boomers’ influence. “Baby boomers have virtually revolutionized every product and service in the marketplace,” Carle wrote in The Washingtonian. “We’re the reason there are a hundred flavors of baby food. As we get old enough to retire and go into senior housing, do you think we’re suddenly going to settle for one flavor [of anything]?”
The New York State Plan on Aging added: “Medical advances will allow boomers to live more actively, with less disability and as a result baby boomers will want services that allow them to remain independent.”
The dramatic changes in the demographic landscape in Westchester and elsewhere provide opportunities for Westchester small business owners, and this is a topic that the Small Business Administration—an important partner of SCORE Westchester—has addressed nicely in Starting a Senior Care Business.
So, if you’ve been seriously thinking about hitching your future success with your Westchester small business to the rising senior services star, SCORE Westchester small business mentors will be happy to sit down with you and review your business idea. Who knows, your venture may prove to be the gold that makes your golden years shine brightly. To schedule a FREE consultation, visit www.SCOREWestchester.com.