By Steve Moran
Once upon a time, in my adult lifetime, Assisted Living did not exist. It was not that there were not “old folks homes” and various kinds of senior living options but it was not really much of a thing. Then one day some people got this idea that this could be a thing . . . but because it is a thing today, does that mean it will still be a thing 25 or 50 years in the future?
Even if it is a thing in 25 to 50 years, it is possible, even probable, that it will be a very different thing.
Electric Sports Cars
Essentially since the time of horseless carriages in the 1920s and 30s, the wealthy and the thrill-seekers have sought to “push the bounds of speed and impress their neighbors”. When I was a kid, it was Corvettes, Porches, Bugattis, and Jaguars. They had heart-racing performance, and prices that were eye-popping, with the most impressive selling for well over a million dollars. What you get for that kind of money is completely impractical and cool.
The new frontier is eclectic sports cars. The purists continue to snub their noses at these “new-fangled” electric supercars. They take too long to charge and, because of batteries, weigh twice what gas-powered supercars do.
And yet . . .
They can go from zero to 60 in less than 2 seconds and produce amazing horsepower. If you are a purist, you are likely convinced that electric supercars will never be the thing. But it is worth noting that at one time . . . a long long time ago, that is what horse purists said about every kind of motorized vehicle.
Senior Living is 100% on the right track. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that people need people more than perhaps we ever appreciated. If we are honest, we also learned that we are simply not as good at this as we can be. We behaved as if physical safety is the most important thing. In truth, physical safety should only be “table stakes”.
The Big Question — Winners and Losers
There seems little question that for the next few years, electric supercars will be more a curiosity than a thing to bet on. But there is going to come a day when the only gas-powered supercars will be classic cars, that are cool to collectors but no longer cutting edge.
This is true for our model of senior living. The question that every operator, every capital provider, every leader must wrestle with is whether they are going to continue to embrace the old care-based monogenerational model or figure out how to make senior living/assisted living the most desirable way for older people to experience their last and most meaningful chapters of life.
My Biggest Fear
My biggest fear is that too many operators will waste this moment in time, attempting to go back to the time before COVID, which was not what most older people wanted. I am fearful that our current model of senior living will be the equivalent of horse-drawn carriages and gas-powered supercars.