Boomers – Aging with Freedom
The Baby Boomers’ Third Age
The Baby Boom demographic bubble is impossible to ignore. Face it, we’ve dominated post World War II economics from our childhood (First Age) through our working life (the Second Age). Now that Boomers are entering retirement years, another swath of life faces transformation from both the sheer numbers of Boomers and our distinctive tastes and preferences. At Aging With Freedom®, we’re trailing edge Boomers with both older and younger siblings. We’re dedicated to understanding Boomers in their Third Age – retirement and what that means for senior living and senior service providers.
The senior services industry is full of buzzwords and myths that we think can mislead because they are from the seller’s perspective and fail to understand the Boomer’s voice or reasons. A few examples that shape our analysis:
Aging-in-Place vs. Aging With Freedom
One sore point? Boomer’s preference to avoid traditional senior living communities is summarized as age-in-place. Just because Boomers don’t want to move into your retirement community doesn’t mean they want to stay put or desire stagnation. Boomers value choice. They hate to give up their freedom. Many Boomers’ choices are constrained by finances. But they still want to choose. The answer isn’t marketing to sell them the exact same last stop as their parents. It will require offering new choices tailored to Boomers, including their financial circumstances.
Generational Monolith vs. Diversity
Boomers are not a monolith of uniform tastes and preferences. There’s considerable variation by age within the cohort, by geography, by wealth and income, and more. The experience of women in the workforce as professionals and consumers is a common thread but the range of individual experiences in work life is wide. We often think of diversity in the obvious demographic categories of race or gender, but for Boomers, the niche communities of their passions may be more important. One-size-fits-all answers are likely to satisfy no one. The pursuit of meaning is a part of the Boomer story, but there’s not a single answer to the question. We’re interested in the distribution curve as much as the averages. The average conceals as much as it reveals. The interesting stuff is often in the tails of the distribution.
Technology-phobes vs. Geeks
The biases around the elderly and technology bug us. The centenarian in the nursing home may not have the appetite to program a DVR or learn how to Skype. But the Boomer leading wave is in their early-70s. We built the space shuttle. We made the transition from DOS to Windows to Mac OS to iOS and Android. Boomers bought every technology gadget that came along from Palm Pilots to Blackberries to iPhones to Teslas. We ruthlessly tried technology from AOL dial-up to broadband. Netflix and Amazon? Yep. Those are our dollars.
We think it’s a good bet that Boomers will lead the demand for self-driving (autonomous) vehicles. Boomers want a Jetson Rosie the Robot in our home. We love computers we can talk with, just like Star Trek. Alexa, Okay Google, Siri, and Cortana are welcome in our homes and phones. We get the power of big data and data analytics to change our choices and change the world. Boomers are going to remain big consumers of technology. And technology is going to change our experience of aging. We’ll be silver-haired geeks. Innovation is a key to future success in the senior market. Stop dissing our technology appetite.
Hungry for Innovation
We’re out to understand where Boomers are going in senior living and senior services. The transition to retirement? Is an opportunity. We are paying attention to the questions and challenges facing Boomers. We’re watching for innovative technologies and great business models, the great answers to things Boomers care about. Follow us to go along for the ride.