The Challenge of “Selling to an Ostrich” – Aging in Place

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There are days I’m sure, just like I do, that you ask yourself “Is this all worth it?” and “Can I really make a difference” as a business owner and an entrepreneur.  I get it, trust me, I do.  But I’m so passionate about my belief in the VALUE and OPPORTUNITY that successful Aging-in-Place can bring to your life, your happiness, your longevity, and your retirement finances, that I continue to PUSH AHEAD, “preach” the message, and press on – I share my thoughts and opinions and expertise as a licensed architect and NAHB Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist at every chance I get, and I don’t plan to stop.

But back to the question (or questioning of ourselves) that created the title of this blog posting – How do we reach and help change the outlook and opinion of a nation?  More pointedly, how do we “Sell” (and idea, or our products and professional services) to “an OSTRICH” per se?

How do we convince a society to PLAN AHEAD?  Is it even possible?  We live in a world where a multi-million dollar airline carriers are largely profitable due to last minute trips booked at higher prices in the last 3 weeks before departure.  We live in a world where there’s a mutli-billion dollar industry (gambling) that banks on the fact that we don’t know when to “cut our losses”, when to leave well enough alone, when to walk away, or when to know more basically, in psychological terms, when the risk outweighs the reward.  Can’t you walk down the Vegas strip and clearly see that THEY have the advantage?  Why would you even RISK your hard earned money (beyond just it’s entertainment value price/cost) when you look at the exorbitant extravagances that surround you (clearly paid for with YOUR LOSSES).

We live in a world where 45% of our health care costs are used by 5% of our population, and that is heavily weighted in the elder populations of our nation.

Why don’t we see the VALUE and SAVINGS that come from planning ahead?  Why do you think the great Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so long ago?  Why do we still fight that idea with all of our subconscious might, putting off preparations for our future that would greatly benefit us, our families, our caregiver, our finances, our independence, our longevity, and our happiness?  This may be the $ million dollar $ question that needs to be answered first, I’m not sure.

We don’t do it in our national health care model.  We don’t do it in our personal lives related to our own health (most of us).  We don’t do it in our personal financial planning (not enough of us anyway).  We have an innate issue in our psychology or physiology that makes us over think, rationalize, and convince ourselves that all those statistics out there from all of that research that all of those major organizations spend so much money collecting and analyzing, somehow just “doesn’t apply to me”.  More clearly, we say to ourselves “THAT will NEVER happen to ME”.  That’s about OTHER people.  I won’t be one of THOSE.  I’m not like THEM.  We direct it all away from ourselves, assuming our own statistical immortality that allows us each to rationalize our own procrastination… Until it’s TOO LATE.

AFTER the fall, AFTER the illness, AFTER we are tossed into a medical, financial, and emotional panic – only THEN do we as individuals decide that we are now “paying attention”.  But this is simply TOO LATE.  After the fall, you can’t plan for home safety.  After the illness, you can’t plan for financial savings to cover the hit to your family and retirement income.  After the emergency, we aren’t in a position to make calm, rational, well researched, financially advantageous decisions.  We PAY MORE in panic and backpedaling mode.  Now you’ve put your life into that “11th hour” type scenario.  It’s that last bet you put down on the blackjack table, when you should have walked away.  It’s that airline ticket you finally decide to purchase that you’d been looking at for months, and you kick yourself for not getting the pricing you’d seen 90 days ago, now that the flight is in 2 weeks… Does that make ANY SENSE as a way to live your life?  Does that make sense as a way to treat your spouse, your family, your future?  I didn’t think so… 

What I do know, as professionals, is that we are poised and positioned in each of our industries, to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  I think that together we CAN instill insight that can lead to a change.  Architects, attorneys, builders, occupational & physical therapists, doctors, financial planners, city council members, mayors, county commissioners, governors, state representatives and legislators – WE can, TOGETHER, get out of our “SILOS of thought and practice” and reach across to other industries to AMPLIFY the message of education for PLANNING AHEAD.  You can’t do it alone, and neither can I.  TOGETHER, we CAN!

After 3+ years of speaking monthly at live events, blogging regularly on the topic for the last 18 months, and co-hosting a radio show for coming up on 12 months, we here at EtMM DO feel we are “making a difference” in the industry of Aging-in-Place.  This effort has thus far resulted in our Architectural firm claiming about 30-40% of it’s residential projects being related to, or incorporating, Aging-in-Place and Universal Design elements to the new home construction and remodeling projects we’ve been hired for in 2013 to date.  But it’s just the beginning, and we know it’s a long road to hoe.

We’ll be in this for the long haul, we’re here to stay, and we plan to grow our “audience” with continued educational resources, authoring literature, live speaking events, and online webinars and podcasts.  We continue to share how Aging-in-Place PLANNING and design can extend your life, your finances, and your independence at home – and we don’t plan to stop.

Please get in touch with us at EtMM or ADM Architecture if you’d like to know more about how to PLAN for your successful future in your own home and community.

Image Credits:
Bellagio Hotel:
I can’t HEAR you:


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2 thoughts on “The Challenge of “Selling to an Ostrich” – Aging in Place
  • Great column and heartfelt expression of the frustration that comes in watching people suffer needless pain, expense and burden. It does seem as if our cognitive systems trick us into underestimating our future odds of disability and illness. Besides, planning and prevention have been made to seem like the province of alarmists. It will take continued commitment and public education — which you’re providing — to help people feel more comfortable that they can make their homes safer and smarter for aging without paranoia or panic. Keep up the great work – and congrats on the high portion of your work relating to aging in place! Rachel Adelson, author, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style

    • admin says:

      Rachel – Yes, it’s a battle against much of what “human nature” is, that’s for sure. Yes, planning and prevention are not the “hip way”, delay and procrastination seem to be more trendy – until it’s TOO LATE – just look at our own government’s actions as of late (LOL). Let’s stay in touch and look for ways to add MEGAPHONE to our MESSAGE on a national level! Thanks to you for all you do as well, and keep up the great work!!

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