A Case for Convergence
The future of what we now call the Senior Living Industry needs to be forged by a more collective voice. We are all familiar with Miles’ Law which states that “where you stand depends upon where you sit.” If you apply this thinking to our own Industry, an important question emerges. Does this future of aging rely upon attributes that are unique to any single age cohort? The clear answer is no. There are a myriad of consumer personas characterized by the tidal wave of baby boomers alone. The Senior Living Industry should represent what constitutes quality housing, care and connectivity for everyone. This requires us to learn from and incorporate what is happening in adjacent spaces. If we learn to rise above the market silos we have created, we will better honor our shared journey as a community. Aging begins at birth and the future belongs to all of us.
Progressive Senior Living providers are now focused on battling ageism and promoting more community connectivity. They recognize that lifestyle and personal preferences beyond supportive services alone must be sourced and delivered. To compete with an expressed preferences to “age in place” at home, it is necessary to offer an equivalent alternative – with broader programming. The unspoken issue is that freestanding homes do not offer an ideal setting for any age group either – they are only superior to the loss of independence that senior housing options conjure in our psyche. Even the allure of suburbia is fading because of a preference for quality over quantity in life and we are starting to question our role (and responsibility) in creating the built environments we share.
When we leverage technology and economies of scale we get more value out of products and services. Increased consumer education reflects a market force that is not unique to seniors or boomers alone. Information access is the common thread disrupting all of our business models and worldviews. We want more, better, faster and we know now that it is possible.
Urban living / Coworking
Coliving and Coworking environments are being created in revitalized urban settings with growing prevalence. The same principles apply – exhibiting trends of community connection catering to lifestyle preferences. There is a coworking space in Syracuse, NY. that recently published a post titled, The Case for Micro-units. The author John Talaric relays that, “Coworking spaces supply these independents with a rich working environment where they can meet, make business connections, and be more productive than outside of home offices and cafes.” Is this not analogous to challenges confronting the Senior Living Industry? Community spaces supply isolated people and organizations with a rich environment where they can meet, make social connections, and be more productive than they can be from inside of their independent homes.
The example above is obvious and trite, but the argument for more integrated community development is simple – our world is changing and we need more customized property development that responds to evolving needs and preferences. The future of aging is not about our elders alone. It is a future that we need to imagine for everyone. We need better Cities and Towns cultivating connectivity rather than fostering fragmentation.