Upon hearing the phrase “senior living,” visions of walkers, oxygen tubes, and bed pans come to mind. Senior living is the broad term used to encompass everything from independent living developments to CCRCs (Continuum Care Retirement Communities), yet there are certain perceptions associated with this elderly demographic that are ripe for disruption.
Ranging from 52 to 70 years of age, baby boomers are the newest addition to the senior citizen cohort, and they’re bringing with them a new outlook on aging. Empowered by empty nests and financial freedom, baby boomers are embracing their 55+ years for the opportunities they hold rather than dreading the obstacles present. This outlook, coupled with buying power and declining mortality rates, has sparked a multi-billion dollar market for a group now being termed “active adults.”
How ‘Optimistic Aging’ is Evolving Senior Living
In 2013, Rohit Bhargava coined the term “Optimistic Aging” to characterize the new wave of excitement and vigor associated with the empty nester years and beyond. According to a study by the National Council on Aging, 89% of older adults feel confident that they could maintain a high quality of life throughout their senior years—a statistic that’s having profound effects on senior living development.
The gap between middle-aged adulthood and assisted living has grown even wider, creating a need for developments that support a dynamic and recreational lifestyle for older adults. These developments have come to be called active adult communities, or as some might say, a baby boomer’s playground. Active adult communities can range from age-restricted independent living communities to multifamily apartments that primarily targets older residents. The common thread, however, is that each of these communities promote a distinct lifestyle—one that’s oriented towards social and recreational activities.
Not only is this demographic evolving development trends within senior living, but the implications for marketing communication are changing as well.
Defining Boomer Characteristics
In the years ahead, senior living demand will be met with supply, and marketers will be tasked with differentiating their community within a cluttered market. Before marketers relegate all senior citizens to a traditional marketing mix, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- 88% of baby boomers are internet users (source).
- 50% of baby boomers spend at least 15 hours online every week (source).
- 96% of online baby boomers use search engines (source).
- 95% of online baby boomers use email (source).
- 82% of baby boomers belong to a social network, the most popular being Facebook (source).
Baby boomers are looking for information online. Senior living communities who recognize this have the opportunity to be both a resource and a solution. For adults who are 70+, it’s important to note that decisions are increasingly made by the children—often Gen-Xers—who are even more tech savvy than the boomer generation.
As baby boomers enter the next phase of life with excitement and anticipation, new doors are opening for senior living developers and marketers. They may just find that new tactics can improve the quality of their leads, not to mention measurability and cost-effectiveness.