Great “Boomer Consumer” webinar, but Where’s the Ladder Propped?

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“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to

the wrong place faster” – Stephen R. Covey

I attended a very informative 90 minute online webinar today, titled “THE BIG BOOM THEORY: WHAT THE BOOMER CONSUMER WANTS”.  The information was valuable in regards to feedback from a group of seniors and potential clients that toured different community living environs around the country and were then surveyed and asked for feedback on a multitude of topics related to the Independent, Assisted, and/or Skilled Nursing (usually the facility was a combination of all 3 types of living style units) complex that they’d just toured, and the idea of moving into a community / facility in general.

I was very impressed with the accolades & credentials of the contributing panelists that led & taught the seminar.  Here is a quick listing of the presenters with links to their organizations –

1) Rob Love, Love & Company

2) Drew Kepley, AIA, LEED AP, SFCS Inc.

3) Patti Adami, ThirdAge, a division of CliftonLarsonAllen

4) Derek Dunham, Varsity Branding Inc.

They shared the wants and needs of the “boomer consumer” related to surveying they’d done that collected the demographic’s opinions on things such as: dining, amenities, transportation, housing opinions, financial concerns, the economy, and more.

What struck me most, right toward the end of the Q&A session, was a comment Patti made, which I’ll paraphrase here, “We’ve spent over 10 years trying to get “younger” boomers into these types of facilities.  Even when we’ve added or renovate our spa treatment facilities, pools, high end theatres, weight and exercise rooms, dining rooms, etc.  NOTHING seems to be working.”  

WHY do you think that is? 

The don’t WANT TO LIVE THERE! (at least they don’t want to YET, and they don’t want to ADMIT they NEED it, at least not yet.)  Or so says the 89% of those polled by AARP!!!

In the last 15 minutes of the webinar it was open to an online chat Q&A session.  I typed my question “With 89% of those polled by AARP in this demographic PREFERRING to stay home, what are we doing to address the systems challenges of getting those topics addressed today (ie. transportation, dining, socialization, etc.) TO the client IN their house, where they’d rather stay & live?”  When the moderator read the question I’d written, the first panelist response was “Can we extend the webinar for another 3-4 hours?” followed by a sincere chuckle from all 4 of them.  His point?  This is a BIG ISSUE, and one that has many layers and facets (and that we couldn’t get into it here in this format and with the remaining time constraint).  That’s fine, I understood (and I’ve emailed each of them to ask if they’d like to continue the conversation in a recorded interview with EtMM soon).  They admitted it was a big challenge as well as an opportunity for new and emerging technologies and companies that they were seeing coming into the marketplace.  I agree with that, and I understand that it’s a much bigger discussion topic, and a “fully integrated systems” challenge, as Mr. Louis Tenebaum mentioned at length when we interviewed him a few months ago.

My real point, subtle (maybe?) but valid for sure, was that their ENTIRE Multi-Billion Dollar Elder Housing INDUSTRY is only addressing 11% of the WANTS and NEEDS of our U.S. population!

It’s psychology at work.  “We’re too young to need this” says the 53 year old that drove to the tour just fine on their own from 20 miles away, and who’d rather be at a Zumba or Yoga class than go on a blue haired short bus to the casino or supermarket for the afternoon outing.  There is a stigma about it, and that may never change – not easily anyway.

So let’s address the real (or most importantly, perceived by the client as “real”) needs and wants of the “Silver Tsunami” – that group of 10,000 people that are turning 65 years old every day – one every 8 seconds.  Let’s help show them how they CAN STAY in their OWN HOME!  Let’s show them that with good accessible modifications and Universal Design alterations via a remodeling project that costs significantly less than the “moving out to the facility” solution, they don’t have to change locations due to a change in ability!  Let’s show our clients how they can “Age In Place” for longer, and be happier, staying where they want to stay… at HOME.  How about we do THAT!?


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