I wrote this back in June 2015, almost eight years ago. The oldest baby boomers were over 70, and the youngest boomers had just turned 50 in the previous year. But interestingly, this question is still top of mind for many; unfortunately, only a few new options have come into the marketplace. It would be interesting to understand the implications that COVID has had on the home’s emotional value. Whether seniors feel more emotionally connected or if they see it as an isolating place amid quarantine. Some of the romance of staying in your home as you age has changed. But the media didn’t help with perceptions of senior living and further perpetuated the many seniors’ and families’ concerns.
Original post-June 2015
In April 2015, The New York Times asked: “Should you downsize and move to a new neighborhood [or] renovate the family residence to suit your needs as you age and lock in for the long term?” It is a question many seniors—and soon, baby boomers—have or will ask themselves as they look ahead and plan for their later years. Financial and emotional concerns and medical ailments drive this decision, and consider all the options.
The fundamental objective for senior living marketers is to convince prospects moving through this decision-making process that they should relocate to their community. Unlike most purchases prospects make—a new phone, a car, or laundry detergent there is some level of aspiration. The purchase of a place to live as seniors may stay with them for the rest of their lives, and community living is not somewhere they aspire to live. The decision’s perception can also carry some finality in their life plans.
A February 2015 Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study found that the relationship between your home’s financial and emotional value shifts over time. From ages 65 to 74, 56 percent said a home’s emotional value was more important than 44 percent who said its financial value was. At 75 and older, 63 percent said emotional value while 37 percent said economic value.” Marketers must work to show a prospect that not only does the move make sense financially but emotionally as well. Therefore, they would only move if a prospect has some crisis with their health or needs. What if we better understood each prospect’s specific emotional tie to their home?
In the movie “Still Mine” a rural farmer battles a bureaucrat for the right to build a new house on his property for his ailing wife. When their existing home no longer suits her health needs, he states at the movie’s end, “building that home is my sense of purpose. It is the reason I get up in the morning. If I didn’t have that, what would my purpose be.”
As we have all experienced through a sales conversation, the emotional tie to the home is vital. Is this because the home provides that sense of purpose, the reason to get up in the morning, and the thing they need to maintain each day? And if immediate health needs are not an issue, our prospects’ first solution for accommodating their aging bodies may be to modify their home rather than look at a move. When prospects say, “I don’t want to leave my home? Are they saying I don’t want to lose my sense of purpose?”
While home modifications, once complete, will solve some of the mobility challenges for seniors and allow them to stay home. Being socially isolated is still an issue with the loss of family and friends, relocation of neighbors, lack of social opportunities, and limitations due to health.
In the Blue Zones, a study by National Geographic and the world’s best longevity researchers identified pockets where people live measurably longer and better. They have recognized nine Power Principles for longevity. Three of the nine principles relate to social connectedness, and four, if you count the benefits of wine — cause who drinks alone?
Social interaction is a crucial element of living a long and happy life and a true benefit of community living. Therefore, could we counteract the emotional benefits of the home with the health and happiness benefits of social connectedness?