Young woman helping her client, a senior with her shopping and technology needs.
No matter your age, consider your viewpoint on your own independence as you roll through life. The freedom to chose a career, the place you want to live and the lifestyle you wan to pursue. Now, flash forward and pretend you are 65 years old. Will you want the same freedom and independence? You bet. Well that is exactly the mindset of the current baby boomers that have decided they want to age in place instead of moving to a retirement home or community. And with the nightmare of the current pandemic affecting the elderly, moving into a retirement home might be out of the question. And that decision will spawn whole new products and services for this population of around 71 million in the USA. Let’s look at what aging in place means and the size of the market.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition, aging in place refers to “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” In both the home health and Home Medical Equipment( HME) industries, experts agree: most seniors would prefer to spend their golden years in their own home. According to a survey AARP conducted in 2018, 87 percent of adults over the age of 65 want to age in place. So, how big is this marketplace? Big.
The so-called longevity economy, which serves the needs of Americans over 50, is currently a $7.1 trillion market and composes 46 percent of the U.S. economy, according to Oxford Economics. As baby boomers continue to age, the market is forecasted to grow to more than $13.5 trillion by 2032. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. This represents nearly 20 percent of the entire projected U.S. population in 2030. In order to understand the mindset of this population, let us look at the two core reasons of why they are aging in place.
The first driving force is independence. Baby boomers have been generational change makers who strived to go to college, build successful careers and raise children who would also go to college and be even more successful than their parents. These boomers utilized the spirit of freedom and independence as they made their career and life decisions. And even though they are older, they are not about to give up that freedom. The second reason is related to an emotional sense of place.
The strong desire to remain in one’s own home can generally be attributed to place attachment, or a deep connection to the home. Place attachment describes a special bond between people and specific places. Many older adults have spent years or decades in their current homes; some of their most memorable moments happened there with children, family, friends, and community. Contemplating the idea of packing up those memories and moving somewhere new can therefore pose a huge emotional hurdle.
Here are some of the products or services this population will need or consider as they age in place.
Virtual concierge services. This is a broad area but one that will be growing. As seniors age, they will need a variety of services and support that goes beyond an Uber ride. There will be opportunities to create a sort of “virtual concierge” either by phone, video chat, text or email that will provide special services on demand.
Co-housing. As seniors age, some of them will lose their significant other and be alone. The solution to this problem will be to coordinate the co-living of 2-4 seniors in a neighborhood into one home with perhaps a caregiver also living on property.
Visiting caregivers. This industry segment is currently exploding and is typically a caregiver visiting the home a few days per week just to check in the seniors and see to any needs they might have. Gen-X and Millennial children love this service as they have peace of mind knowing someone is looking in on their parents.
Prepping the home for safety. One of the most significant threats to seniors aging in place is falls. So another industry segment will be businesses that come into the home and safety proof it with railings, safety bars in the shower and myriad of other safety or mobility adjustments.
Home health care monitoring and alerts. With video monitoring, RING and the Apple Watch, there is quite a bit of technology moving into the home. Some of these technologies can be tied together with an app, which remotely monitors someone’s health or movement, and in certain circumstances, can send alerts to family and friends.
Prepared meals. The one thing the boomers are doing now is eating better. They are moving to healthier food choices and in some cases eating more vegan meals. As they age, they will be cooking less and delivered and prepared meals will be the norm.
Technology support. With all the technology coming into the home, seniors will need help to manage it all. They will need support with everything from software updates, resetting wireless routers, setting thermostats, setting alarms and the list just goes on.
Baby Boomers own over 80% of the wealth in the United States and they will spend their money to live an amazing life. Investigate what they will need to live well, solve their problems and you will be able to build a company around this population segment.