By Steve Moran
So much talk about what boomers want out of senior living, and it completely misses the point. Boomers have no idea what they want out of senior living. They do have a pretty good idea of what they don’t want, and that is senior living as it exists today.
But even that is not quite right …
They don’t want what they perceive senior living to be, which is often not what it really is.
What Retirement Looks Like
As I write this, it feels pretty jumbly, meaning I am far from having it all figured out, but here is what I am thinking about — the big question:
Where does senior living fit in the retirement story?
Right now, mostly senior living is about what happens when one’s life starts slowing down. This is true even with independent living communities. It is even largely true with CCRCs — life plan communities — where they primarily attract planners who are very much thinking about what happens when they need care, but also want to create a today lifestyle.
It seems weird to me that no one really considers active 55+ to be part of the senior living ecosystem. We don’t much try to claim them, and they want nothing to do with “care.” (I understand their perspective more than our perspective.) This is wrong on both counts. At some point, a percentage of those residents in Storyliving by Disney and Latitude Margaritaville will need higher levels of assistance and care.
But what they have 100% right — and why people are flocking to them — is that they are telling a story about a wonderful life in retirement, a next chapter in the book called humanity.
They tell the story in a way that makes you believe (and is largely true) that those next years will be wonderful and fantastic, even though they will be different than when you were in your 20s, 30s, and 40s. It is by its very nature a life that comes with limitations because of age and changing life stages, but it is a wonderful thing, something you can look forward to as a new chapter and new adventure.
I Believe …
That it is possible for senior living, even assisted living and memory care, to be seen as a next chapter that is a wonderful new adventure. That they can represent days, weeks, months, and years of endless, though different, possibilities.
We need to be thinking about how to tell this story, our story, better. We need to see what we do as something that creates new adventures, new relationships, new meaningful moments. We need to be able to say, sure, you have these physical and maybe even cognitive challenges, but look at how good life can be. You can now have these new and wonderful adventures that were not really available to you before.
We boomers want that more than anything else.