Although the divorce rate in the U.S. is on the decline, among those 50 and older, the rate has doubled since 1990, based on data from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green University.[i] This study revealed that one of out of every four people going through a divorce is 50 or older, and more than half of these divorces are couples that have been married for more than 20 years.[ii]  Gray divorce is the term used to refer to the these later-in-life divorces.

While divorce can be difficult at any age, it’s especially challenging for people over 50, with emotional, financial and health implications, especially for women.

Norma Perez, PhD, is a psychologist in Lakeway, a suburb of Austin, TX, whose practice includes divorce support for seniors. She attributes the rise in divorce rate among seniors to both the shift in the attitudes toward divorce as well as the rise in women’s empowerment. “There’s no longer the stigma attached to divorce, and women are recognizing that they have a voice,” said Perez. “They are more confident of their ability to live independently and design a life that’s better for them.”[iii]

Finding a new life at senior living communities

“Post-divorce, it’s both a matter of grieving the loss of the life they had, and how to rebuild a new life,” said Perez. “Women are afraid of losing their friends as a result of the divorce.” But, she says, senior living communities offer a solution.  “One of the aspects I most like about senior living communities is that they provide an instant social network of peers with generationally similar life experiences. There’s also the opportunity to diversify your interests. Active adult communities make it easier to broaden your horizons, and meet new people through organized activities, and groups for tennis, cards or crafting.”

Choosing a rental community can be a smart financial decision for a gray divorcee. By selling her home, she can free up the equity, giving her more financial freedom, and making it easier to control expenses. Mortgage payments, property taxes, and homeowners insurance are all eliminated, along with the expense of maintaining of a larger home.

Senior rental housing also gives her the flexibility to move closer to adult children, or to try out a different city to begin this new phase of life.

From an emotional standpoint, leaving behind the family home to begin anew can be very freeing.  “It’s an opportunity for a fresh start in a vibrant, engaging community designed for successful aging in place,” said Tod Petty, executive vice president of Lloyd Jones Senior Living. “Our AVIVA-branded rental communities offer a built-in network of friends, social activities and wellness services.”

Seniors who divorce often find themselves without the support system they had counted on: a spouse to care for them in their old age, and a circle of friends that they had as a married couple. One of the biggest health concerns of gray divorce is isolation, which many studies have linked to a greater risk for higher levels of depression, higher blood pressure, weight gain and chronic diseases.[iv]

So, a very important benefit of senior-living rental communities is the camaraderie of peers, and a fun, active social environment with planned activities—helping to avoid the isolation that often comes with gray divorce.

Petty adds, “We’ve designed our AVIVA communities to encourage engagement. The clubhouse is the social hub of the community, which includes a resort-style pool, fitness center, bistro, multipurpose rooms for activities, and social lounges. Plus, healthcare services are available if they are ever needed.”

For those going through a divorce later in life, creating a strong foundation and clear expectations about the future is the first step to reinventing oneself, and active adult communities can be just the place to begin anew.

To learn more about AVIVA senior living rental communities, visit






Lloyd Jones Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Chris Finlay, was a featured speaker at the “Outlook on Active Adult from the C-Suite” panel during Senior Housing News’ Active Adult Virtual Summit (July 15, 2020). Here are the key takeaways from his talk:

  • Finlay believes that an all-rental model holds untapped potential for developers and residents. As seniors age in place, with the addition a la carte services as needed and emerging technology, they’ll be able to enjoy an elevated quality of life for longer.
  • The rental model will also meet the growing demand of seniors who want to sell their home and retain equity to better manage their retirement financially.
  • To address this demand, Lloyd Jones offers its Aviva brand of active-adult living. Finlay introduced the three Aviva products.
    • Aviva Cottages are a for-lease cottage product which Finlay envisions will be especially popular with seniors in suburban markets making their initial transitions from single-family homes. These single-story cottages with attached garages will surround a resort-style clubhouse where events and activities abound.
    • Aviva 55 is a three- to four-story building, better suited to urban environments where lot sizes are smaller. This product is similar to a luxury apartment community but available solely to residents at least 55 years of age and will appeal to consumers looking for the lifestyle afforded by these locations.
    • Aviva Independent is a more traditional independent living product, with the first building set to break ground in Port St. Lucie, Florida later this year.
  • Active adult communities tend to be slow to lease-up (about six a month), but once occupancy levels reach stabilization, they tend to remain constant. In order to control operational costs in new construction during lease-up, Aviva Independent Port St. Lucie was designed to include two wings flanked by a central clubhouse, enabling Lloyd Jones to lease up one building while the other is under construction.
  • The industry average for how long seniors stay in an adult active community is five to seven years, but the average stay for residents in Lloyd Jones Senior Living communities is over ten years. Residents form close, lasting friendships, and with the addition of home healthcare services and future technology, they’ll be able to stay even longer.
  • Active adult represents the biggest real estate opportunity that Finlay has seen in his 40-year career, but it is also a challenging sector to enter. It requires correctly identifying the right markets to build active adult, deducing demographic trends for growth, and being ahead of the curve in terms of the services and technology that residents will need in order to comfortably age in place for the next five to ten years.


Trailblazers in the active adult space have their sights set on capturing multiple consumer segments for the product.
One possible scenario involves building a continuum within the active adult sector where residents can transition from single family cottages to apartments, en route to an eventual transition to full-service independent living. This continuum would be all rental, with a la carte services added by residents as needed. Real estate firm Lloyd Jones is already working on this model, and expects it to be mutually beneficial for owners and residents over time.
Other developers — such as Newport Beach, California-based Avenida Partners — are targeting markets with active adult rentals at different price points, in order to capture the growing demographic of baby boomers expected to flood the space over the next 10 to 25 years.
Active adult represents the biggest real estate opportunity that Lloyd Jones Founder, Chairman and CEO Chris Finlay has seen in his 40-year career, but it is also a challenging sector to enter.
Notably, operators find themselves having to convince seniors to make the move from a single family home to a smaller space, as well as educating prospects on the benefits of a move. This requires a lot of footwork by sales and marketing teams, months and even a year before a building opens, Avenida Partners Managing Partner Robert May said Wednesday during Senior Housing News’ Virtual Active Adult Summit.
It also requires correctly identifying the right markets to build active adult, deducing demographic trends for growth, and predicting what residents will need in order to comfortably age in place for the next five to ten years.
“You need to hit the bullseye on all those,” May said.

Building an active adult continuum

Lloyd Jones is a prominent name in multifamily development and has long been involved in the age-restricted sector as well, Finlay said. More recently, the firm launched its Aviva-branded active adult model.
The Aviva portfolio is being build with three distinct models. Aviva Cottages are a for-lease cottage product which Finlay envisions as an entry point for the first wave of boomers transitioning to active adult. Aviva 55 is three- to four-story buildings, and the firm is building a more traditional independent living product, with the first building set to open in Port St. Lucie, Florida later this year. It will include two wings and a central clubhouse, enabling Lloyd Jones to lease up one half of the building while the other half is under construction.
An obstacle to building more cottages is a lack of available land to build a horizontal development at a scale necessary to generate adequate returns for investors. But Finlay believes that the model would be especially popular with seniors in suburban markets making their initial transitions from single-family homes. Conversely, the Aviva 55 concept is better suited to urban environments where lot sizes are smaller, and will appeal to consumers looking for the lifestyle afforded by these locations.
Finlay believes that an all-rental model holds untapped potential for developers and residents. As seniors age in place, they can use home health care services and technology to maintain an elevated quality of life for an extended period of time. The rental model will allow residents to manage their retirement nest eggs better.
“We feel that there will be amazing demand for people to sell their homes and retain equity to help with retirement,” Finlay said.
Active adult communities tend to be slow to lease-up, but once occupancy levels reach stabilization, they tend to remain constant. For new buildings, Lloyd Jones pencils lease-up pro formas at around six new move-ins per month, but the average length of stay among residents is over 10 years, and the oldest resident in an Aviva community is 103, Finlay said.
He noted that occupancy across the Aviva portfolio is at around 99%, while operating margins are comparable to independent living’s average of 35%. Resident satisfaction, meanwhile, is high.

A localized sales approach

Newport Beach, California-based Avenida has two active adult lines: an affordable model with rents averaging $1,850 per month; and a market-rate line with average rents between $2,100 and $2,200 per month.
Avenida’s move to create an active adult product that can flex between different price points depending on a building’s location and other factors is similar to what senior living providers are doing in other parts of the continuum. For instance, Eclipse Senior Living, Atria Senior Living and Merrill Gardens all have ambitions to create different operating models to serve various parts of the market.
Nearly all of Avenida’s buildings range between 140 and 160 units, which puts pressure on the developer to be correct on locations, programming, activities and demographic trends, because active adult is not a needs-based move, compared to the rest of the senior housing care continuum.
Avenida’s target markets are very localized, with around 50% of its residents coming from within 10 miles of its communities, May said during Wednesday’s virtual summit. About two-thirds of its residents sell their homes in order to move into a building.
Because active adult is a newer segment of senior living, developers in the space hit the ground early to educate the target demographic on the benefits of the product. Avenida keeps track of housing sales in its markets to identify potential customers and generate leads. Additionally, its sales teams spend up to 12 months before a community welcomes new residents educating prospects on its offerings and services.
The firm also reaches out to senior housing providers in its markets. This alleviates fears that they are going after the same customer, as well as establishes mutual referral networks to send referrals who would, for example, be better suited for independent living to a competitor, and vice versa.
May sees the biggest obstacle to a move as the family that does not want to sell its home. Once Avenida is able to overcome that objection, however, it has move-in coordinators on staff to assist families with closing escrows and downsizing their belongings to prepare for the transition.
“We think that people want to move, but they don’t need to move. It eventually morphs into a need as they fight isolation and depression, and they discover a sense of community in our buildings,” he said.

Lloyd Jones is a real estate investment, development and management platform that has operated in the multifamily space since the 1980s, doing more than $750 million in projects in total. Now, the Miami-based firm is pursuing a senior living pipeline, developing “independent living-light” properties under the Aviva 55 brand.
“In general, what we feel is that technology is going to rapidly allow people to age in place and not have to end up going to an assisted living, which as we know is getting more and more medically acute,” Lloyd Jones Chairman and CEO Chris Finlay told Senior Housing News.
Finlay’s perspective appears to be widely shared among senior living professionals. In a recent survey of industry pros conducted by architecture firm Perkins Eastman, respondents identified “aging in the community — decentralized care and services” as the No. 1 disruptor of the standard senior living business model.
In particular, respondents said that new technologies are enabling aging in place and decreasing older adults’ reliance on professional caregivers in settings such as assisted living.

Lloyd Jones is aiming to create middle-market, 55-plus age-restricted properties with these trends in mind.
“We’re not looking to do super high-end, we’re looking to do it as cost effectively as possible and do it where we provide services on an a la carte basis through relationships with food vendors, health care agencies, transportation and other services that these folks will need and use,” Finlay said.

The Aviva 55 model

Lloyd Jones is not a total newcomer to the senior living sector. The firm first developed an independent living/assisted living building in New Hampshire about 20 years ago. Currently, Lloyd Jones owns between more than 700 age-restricted units with no additional services, all located in Florida.

The idea for Aviva 55 came, in part, from observing the dynamics at these current 55-plus properties.

“We see how people really want to stay there and age in place,” Finlay said. “In one property, in Jacksonville, we have a lady who is 103 years old. She is completely independent. [The residents] make friends with their neighbors and they’re taking care of this lady … They become like little mini-families.”

For Aviva 55, the idea is that by layering on some services, Lloyd Jones can further facilitate aging in place in a middle-market product that should appeal to aging boomers who want to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

The plan is for Aviva 55 buildings to have a health and wellness coordinator and an activities coordinator on staff, to facilitate socialization and residents’ wellbeing. Lloyd Jones also intends to forge partnerships with local organizations to provide support services on an as-needed basis.

Already, older adults are increasingly embracing the on-demand economy to meet needs such as grocery delivery and transportation. To support this, Aviva 55 buildings will have robust internet infrastructure, Finlay said. Strong WiFi will also enable health care-related technology that might be put in common areas.

For example, Finlay is interested in facilitating telehealth by creating spaces equipped with tech for virtual doctor visits. It’s possible these spaces could also be used for onsite exams or treatment through partnerships with area providers.

From a physical plant perspective, expect Aviva 55 buildings to be three to four stories, with surface or podium parking, and between 100 and 200 units. It’s a 100% rental model, and Finlay is estimating development costs of about $250,000 per unit.
“You can provide a very nice amenity package and common area packages without getting crazy,” he said. “Most of what I see is over the top … We’re going to try to be as efficient as possible in the design … we’ll try to keep the interiors, while very nice, not ridiculous.”
In multifamily, Lloyd Jones has carved out a niche in workforce housing, and the firm plans to target a similar demographic with Aviva 55. This strategy also should insulate the properties from oversupply pressures currently hitting assisted living and more high-end independent living communities, Finlay said.

“I think there’s certainly some softness and a lot of competition in the high end space, in independent living and assisted living,” he said. “I think in most cases … when you start charging $7,000, $8,000, $10,000 a month, that’s a very small demographic that can afford that. Those properties are meeting with some resistance.”

The rollout

Lloyd Jones currently has three Aviva 55 projects on the books, and would like to eventually be developing 10 or more a year, Finlay said.
“We’ve got a big team out looking for sites,” he said. “We’re really hoping to scale this part of our business pretty rapidly.”
Last December, the firm closed on a deal to build a 150-unit building in Sunrise, west of Fort Lauderdale. The other projects are in Port St. Lucie and Naples. In Port St. Lucie, Finlay hopes to break ground before the end of the second quarter of this year, and in Naples, the timeline is to start development on the site within 6 months.
Lloyd Jones is also exploring acquisitions of existing independent living or assisted living buildings, to scale them back to the “IL-light” model of Aviva 55. Going the other way — acquiring a multifamily building and layering on services — is more complex from a regulatory perspective. In some cases, it could involve emptying the building of residents for 90 days before reopening as an age-restricted property, Finlay said.

Lloyd Jones has a number of capital partners for Aviva 55 projets, Finlay said, although he declined to disclose their names.
“There’s a ton of capital going after this space right now, because I think everybody realizes that the demographics are certainly overwhelming, and there’s a lot of need,” he said, adding that “capital is not a concern” in terms of scaling up Aviva 55.
Going forward, Lloyd Jones is looking to expand the Aviva 55 footprint beyond Florida. Texas is the next state being targeted, followed by Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Finlay has demonstrated good timing not only in his real estate career but prior to that. He was a pilot for Eastern Airlines for 15 years but took early retirement and got out of that company two years before it went bankrupt in 1989. Finlay describes that as “fortuitous timing”; it’s possible that the timing is also fortuitous for Lloyd Jones to be early mover in this emerging independent living-light product, if demand and competition ramp up as Finlay anticipates.
“I think there’s going to be a big move to this asset class,” he said.

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