By Steve Moran

In Ken Dychtwald’s new book Radical Curiosity, he talks about four flavors of aging:

  1. Chronological aging, which is simply the number of days or years you have been alive.
  2. Psychological aging, which he describes as the normal process of growing up while migrating through the various experiences and transitions in our lives
  3. Aging-related roles, which are fickle and defined by society. It was once thought that growing old and aging meant wisdom and a higher more respected role in society and families. Today that is much less true, rather than honored, it is dreaded.
  4. Physical aging, which is the thing that happens to your body and mind as you grow older.

Four Paths

This is a good place to start. But I would argue that as people grow older they choose one of 4 paths in their aging journey. Some choose it deliberately and some accidentally. Here they are:

  1. There are some who grow old early. They don’t take care of their bodies and embrace decline. Maybe embrace is not quite the right word, but they do nothing to fight it.
  2. Some deny their aging. They get lots of plastic surgery and try to act like they’re all still 30.
  3. Those who embrace the benefits of being on the earth for more years than others. Their behaviors change and they continue to embrace being the best selves like they did when they were young.
  4. Others that don’t come into their own until they get older. They are likely people who were always strivers, but who just could not seem to find the right path to purpose and fulfillment until they are older. This is me.

Implications for Senior Living

Because all four of those paths are available to everyone, people get to pick which one to choose. And often they can move from one to another. Senior living has done a great job of serving those in the first category and an okay job of serving those in the third category.

It is hard to imagine that someone choosing path 2 would ever move into senior living. Though I suspect a substantial portion of those living in The Villages in Florida would fit this category. Most senior living communities are not very happy places for older people in category four.

But, because these paths are choices, imagine how senior living could help residents and prospects move from one of the “less than” paths to one of abundance. The audience would be bigger, residents would live longer, demand fewer services, and would love living in your community.  

This is a tremendous opportunity.

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