By Sara Zeff Geber, PhD
While everyone races around trying to anticipate the senior housing wish list of baby boomers, there is a subset of those 70 million people who don’t have their daughter’s basement as a fallback position when they need some help.
Almost 20% of baby boomer women did not have children. That’s double the percentage of childless women in all previous generations. On top of that, there are many more men, women, and couples who have children who live thousands of miles away or who have been estranged from their parents for decades. In addition, more people over 60 than ever before live alone. These solo agers represent over 30% of baby boomers, and they are prime candidates for life plan communities.
Like most baby boomers, their primary goals for their later years are:
- Financial security
- A comfortable place to live
- Food and drink they enjoy
- Something to look forward to when they get up in the morning — something that gives them a sense of purpose
Overall, the average solo ager is better educated, has a bigger nest egg, and has better insurance (including long-term care) than their counterparts who are grandparents. However, they run a greater risk of isolation and loneliness as they get older, and after two years of COVID, they are acutely aware of that. Aging in place alone in their two-story suburban homes will very likely turn out to be a crappy solution for them.
7 Radical Ideas to Attract Solo Agers
How do you make your life plan community attractive to these solo agers? Here are some suggestions, many of them linked to the challenges solo agers will be running into without that ubiquitous adult daughter (caution – some of them are radical!):
- Segment your property into smaller subcommunities that better resemble neighborhoods. Encourage potlucks, happy hours, etc. in these areas.
- Offer help, not only with move-in, but with the downsizing, the real estate transaction, and the move itself. Share the cost.
- Connect every new solo ager to a “buddy” to help them get acquainted with their new home and community.
- Ensure that every solo ager resident has an advocate to accompany them to medical appointments.
- Select a stable of experienced, professional fiduciaries and/or patient advocates in your area to whom you can refer your solo aging residents. Share the cost.
- Create a singles table (or several) in your dining room. If you don’t have anything larger than four tops, invest in several large rounds.
- Create special events just for the solo agers in your community. Remember, they don’t have family coming to collect them for Thanksgiving dinner or other significant holidays.
When you hold marketing events, live or online, be sure to stress that you are particularly welcoming to solos. Many unattached people are concerned that they will face a sea of couples if they move into your community. The communities that welcome solo agers will find they have an enormous competitive edge in their geographic area.
Sara Zeff Geber, PhD, is the author of the award-winning Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers. She is a regular contributor to Forbes.com on retirement and aging, and frequently speaks at senior living conferences and at marketing events for life plan communities. Sara is also a Nexus Insights Fellow. Find her on LinkedIn here.