The Disease of Aging, Airbnb, and Products for Longevity

Posted by CC Andrews

Nov 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

When the opening line of a panel discussion on aging and the longevity economy is something like this: “Every single person in this room over 25 suffers from a disease, and that disease is the disease of aging,” https___press.atairbnb.com_app_uploads_2017_01_airbnb_vertical_lockup_web copy.pngthose of us steeped in this field take notice. To begin, suggesting that the human condition of living is considered a disease is a bit provocative, if not ignorant. In addition, the moderator of said panel followed the introduction with, “eventually the disease of aging is going to kill us,” which I assume at this point was meant to be merely bombastic, especially since the panelists were thoughtful, engaging humans, all of whom were clearly living with this aging “disease.”

Convened by the Milken Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit think tank, the purpose of the panel was to discuss aging and longevity and the impact these two issues will have on the global economy. The discussion included a diverse array of people who have either studied aging and longevity or have dabbled in it due to their work.

Among the most interesting of perspectives came from Chip Conley, strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership at Airbnb, where adults 50 years and older make up only about 6 percent of its employees, compared to 25 percent in the entire U.S. workforce.

Despite the depressingly small number of elders in the company, Conley, who joined Airbnb at the age of 52, believes that older workers and younger workers have much to gain from each other. “I have had the experience of being both a mentor and an intern at the same time,” he said, also noting that while the average age of company leaders is declining, “meaning power is moving younger, and these people who are getting a lot of power don’t have a lot of training, nor do they have a lot of people with gray hair around to give them advice.”

In an effort to address Airbnb’s workforce problem, Conley pointed to the “wise elder” who can help with “emotional intelligence and good thinking around strategy, and will not be a competitor to his younger colleague, who uses him as a sounding board.” One of the company’s solutions is to create an affinity group of employees 50 and older who can address the issues and have their voices heard. “Elders have proven to be helpful in creating better teams, better at helping them operate, and better at creating collegial and collaborative environments where teams works better,” he said.

Presented with a question about what products and services are being developed to cater to the genuine needs of elders, Joseph Coughlin, PhD, director of the MIT AgeLab, asserted that it’s not just about the needs of older adults, “because, as the saying goes in the auto industry, everyone knows that a young man will never buy an old man’s car and an older man or an older woman will run away from it as well.”

The idea, he says, is to create products that excite and delight. “The reason why older adults aren’t buying products that are made for older adults is not because [the consumers] are old and declining, it’s because we have yet to invent a longevity product that is worth buying,” he said. Others may disagree with this last statement, but I agree with his premise that there needs to be more products focused on exciting and delighting older consumers.

Circling back to Airbnb, Conley noted that there is a growing number of “digital nomads” who recognize that they can mix their work and their pleasure because they are armed with a mobile device, a laptop, and wifi connections. They live in Airbnbs and they travel the world while working, he says. What’s more, the fastest-growing group of Aribnb hosts is adults 50 years and older. The reason behind this is because many people who are over 50 own their own home, are empty nesters, have extra rooms in their homes, and want to add to their retirement income. Airbnb hosts also have the highest guest ratings.

These slices of information make me wonder if the folks over at Silvernest and others with similar home-share-for-Boomers business models have heard about this. Airbnb’s experience certainly seems to suggest that these housing alternatives are likely onto something.

The perspectives here were diverse and not the usual advice (others on the panel included a representative from AARP and the economist-author of “The 100-Year Life”). Watch the full discussion to get some newer perspectives on the longevity economy. It may stimulate some fresh thinking of your own.

If you want a focused approach to strategic decisions around navigating the longevity economy, facilitated by experts in the senior living field and candid feedback, contact Quantum Age today.


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Topics: Aging, Senior care, senior living, longevity

Survey Finds Urbanites Confident About Staying in Cities as they Age

Posted by CC Andrews

Oct 18, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Cities—you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Whichever side you are on, there is no denying that urban areas in the United States and across the world are growing. Some expert futurists predict that by 2038, most QA blog welltower .jpgurban areas will become megacities that will be “major political forces in countries due to their embrace of smart technologies to manage transportation, energy, and waste.”

Welltower Real Estate Investment Trust apparently has a similar prediction because they recently conducted a survey that examines what city dwellers think about retirement and aging issues and it’s pretty interesting. The survey, which was conducted in the spring, “among an audience of 3,000 adult participants across 10 cities” (Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington, D.C.), included Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers.

Titled “Aging in Cities 2017 Report,” the study yielded some interesting data about how different age groups feel about aging, health care, and their financial preparedness for retirement. It also identifies, for those of us plugged into the longevity economy, some new opportunities with regard to people who want to age in cities and how their attitudes may impact urban living for the years ahead.

Herewith are some highlights from the report:

1. Health Care Services and Facilities for Aging in Cities

  • This section of the report found that six out of 10 (61 percent) of city dwellers felt that having a good doctor is their highest health care priority as they age. Distance from health care facilities was less important, according to 21 percent of respondents.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt that there was a need for different options for aging at home, and 40 percent identified a need for more senior living communities within their cities. Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers were found to be most focused on senior housing options: 54 percent expressed the need for options to help aging citizens stay in their homes and 43 percent believed their cities were in need of more senior living communities.
  • Sixty-six percent of the respondents expressed concern about dementia and one-third (34 percent) wanted more options for dementia care in their cities. Forty percent said say their city needed more mental health providers for older people and 33 percent cited the need for more memory care communities.
  • Worth noting are the data around how dwellers of specific cities felt about health care services. In Chicago, for example, respondents wanted to focus on mental health providers and dementia care, while those in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco wanted more senior living communities and memory care facilities than the overall average.

2. Cost of Living and Financial Priorities

  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents said they believe they will have the financial means to live in the city at 80-plus, with 75 percent of Millennials and 58 percent of Baby Boomers reported believing they will have enough money to live in the location and place of their choosing when they are 80-plus. Toronto, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, and Seattle residents who were asked to think about their 80-plus year-old selves said that maintaining their current quality of life in the area they live now was the top financial priority. In New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, however, residents reported that lowering their cost of living and housing costs from what they pay now was their top priority for retirement yea
  • This may not be surprising but serves as an underscore to what many longevity economy operatives know: The top five activities that respondents expect to give them purpose at 80-plus years of age are: pursuing a hobby, volunteering, exercising/group or individual sports, caregiving for family and friends in need, and engagement with their religion and place of worship. One in five respondents said that full- or part-time work, either in their current occupation or a new field, would give them purpose at that age.

3. Home Features for Aging in the Cities

  • For 36 percent of the survey respondents, aging in place in their current home was the first choice when asked what they wanted in their 80-plus years. One-third said their preferred choice would be to move to an age-friendly home, either a smaller apartment designed with special features (18 percent) or a senior living community with full amenities and access to the city’s offerings (17 percent).

Welltower Executive Vice President Mercedes Kerr says in the afterword of the report that she hopes it will “spark new conversations to create positive change that benefits our senior population.” I couldn’t agree more. In addition, I hope the report will also illuminate the opportunities for innovation in aging services.

Contact us to learn how Quantum Age can help you leverage opportunities sparked by the longevity economy.



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Topics: senior living, longevity economy, cities

Competition & Reinvestment: the Future of CCRCs & Senior Living

Posted by CC Andrews

Jan 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

No matter how often the stats about the impending wave of aging Baby Boomers are cited, it seems that senior living providers, policy makers, and even society as a whole have yet to heed them.QA Blog Photo future senior living.jpg

A session at the recent LeadingAge conference highlighted this fact, and the presenters’ message was clear: if you don’t do something now to shift your paradigm and focus on consumers’ needs and desires, among other things, you will miss out on a golden opportunity to not only thrive in the longevity economy but also stay true to your organization’s mission.

Mark Andrews, co-CEO of Irving, Texas-based Greystone Communities, led the session, which was aimed at identifying opportunities and challenges for providers while at the same time maintaining a margin that “enables long-term mission growth.” According to him, the current landscape of the industry is as follows:

  • High growth curve and a demographic shift;
  • A long economic recovery;
  • A strong real estate market and improved household wealth;
  • Low interest rates;
  • Increasing competition;
  • Evolving and changing customers;
  • Aging CCRCs; and
  • A growing number of providers.

Historically, Andrews noted, providers have had a paternalistic approach to their business model. “We knew what was best for the consumer and we would make it available when we thought they needed it.” With that, Andrews outlined some things that providers should do (and know) to ensure success going forward: 

  1. Your business model needs to change to be more consumer-focused and resident-centered. The new model, Andrews explained, must wrap the continuum around seniors’ needs and offer services “when they think they need it,” versus the provider making that decision.
  1. Communities with lifestyles of engagement, purpose, and connectedness will thrive. In addition, you will have strong demand if you have the right product, right location, and the right approach to services.
  1. Services need to be priced in a way that suits the consumers’ economic circumstances. It will require a different mindset and the ability to serve the upcoming generation of seniors, who will want much more flexibility and programming than the current model offers.
  1. The labor pool will be a significant factor. Movement to a $15 minimum wage will affect providers’ ability to recruit and retain staff. “It will have a profound impact on the economics of senior living and your ability to afford it,” which will lead to some stress, said Andrews.
  1. Reinvest and remodel your aging physical plant. One-quarter of all CCRCs are between 20 and 35 years old and 22 percent are between 15 and 25 years old, while 12 percent are more than 35 years old. Knowledge is power in this case, Andrews noted: if your CCRC is relatively young, you will have an advantage over most CCRCs in the country.
  1. A large number of replacement independent living units will be required over the next 15 years. Between 175,000 and 200,000 additional incremental and replacement independent living units will be needed between now and 2030 to keep up with replacing aging physical plants as the demand for them grows.
  1. Competition is on the rise. A growing number of providers nationwide are investing in expansion and repositioning and/or growth. Behind this development are the following factors: more capital availability, aging communities, and growth in for-profit rentals in assisted living, memory care, and more.

Whatever your tax status, it’s a good idea to consider how you might strategize and reposition your community—time may not be on your side if you wait much longer.

If you want a focused approach, facilitated by experts in the senior living field and honest feedback, contact Quantum Age today.

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Topics: senior living, longevity economy, CCRC, life plan community

Rise in Senior Spending Fuels Longevity Economy

Posted by CC Andrews

Jul 28, 2016 7:40:35 PM

Businesses may have to pay heed to the adage, “listen to your elders.” According to a recent report from the worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute, the 60+ age group will be one of the top three consumer groups to generate half of the global urban consumption from now to 2030.2016-Harley-Davidson-Forty-Eight1.jpg

The retiring and elderly in developed economies, along with China’s working age population and North America’s working age population, form a consumer seismic shift that will “reshape global consumer markets over the next 15 years,” the authors write in the April 2016 report titled, “Urban World: The Global Consumers to Watch.”

Reasons for the economic dominance of the elderly include the high number of baby boomers—the post-World War II generation that resulted from the largest spike in birthrate—entering the 60-plus age group as well as the growing number of those who are aged 75 and older.

Typically these consumers spend more per head than younger people. Although health care remains the main service that is purchased (In developed countries, a 30-year-old consumer spends on average $3,000 per year on health care, while a 60-year-old and a 90-year-old respectively spend annually $8,200 and about $35,000), this group also spends more than 40 percent on transport, housing, and entertainment, the report states.

For example, people over 50 bought nearly two-thirds of the new cars sold in the United States in 2011, the report states, adding that half of all Americans riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles are baby boomers.

The elderly increasingly want to “age in place.” As such, the authors claim that those aged 55 and older account for nearly half of the U.S. spending on home improvements.

Yet this population is not nearly as homogenous as previous generations. Several factors affect the buying power of this age group: retirement age, rate of divorce, spousal death, and the need for, and timing of, assisted living. While they will continue to spend on health care, this generation uses technology at rates closer to those of the 20- to 30-year-old Millennials, enjoys more active lifestyles and vacations, and spends more on good design and higher-cost items when their savings can support it, states the report.

While many in the 60-plus age group are wealthy, others have not saved enough to sustain their retirement. The latter may have to supplement their income by downsizing, renting out rooms, or taking out reverse mortgages, suggests the report. Many baby boomers are also delaying retirement.

According to the report, nearly 65 percent of U.S. baby boomers plan to work past the age of 65; of those, 62 percent plan to continue to work either to maintain income or health benefits, while the rest will do so because they enjoy their work.

This tech-savvy, resourceful, and energetic group is causing many businesses to rethink their consumer models and tap into the longevity economy.

“Companies in every sector—some of which have never been associated with the elderly—will need to prioritize this market as never before,” wrote the same authors in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

For insights on how you can tap into the longevity economy, engage with Quantum Age today.

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Topics: Aging, senior living

Unprepared, Uniformed, and Reluctant to Leave Home

Posted by CC Andrews

Jun 8, 2016 8:37:24 PM

No, this isn’t a post about recent high school graduates—it’s actually about their parents, or more specifically,hands-1310277-1600x2000.jpg Americans 40 years and older. I am among that group, and we are, for the most part, unprepared to pay for long-term care (something many of us will need in the second half of our lives), uninformed about how it will or can be paid for, and reluctant to go anywhere else but to our own bedrooms to be cared for if or when we need that care.

How do I know this? Here are some stats: A recent survey of Americans 40 and older further illuminates the problem that most of us are woefully ill equipped for the likely inevitability of needing long-term services and supports (LTSS). The survey found that 77 percent of this cohort would prefer to receive long-term care in their own homes, with far fewer choosing to receive care in a senior living community (11 percent) or a nursing home (4 percent)—no surprise here. Released by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, the survey also asked this same group about their preparations for long-term care, and one-third say they’ve done no planning at all for their own care needs.

Moreover, a majority (64 percent) have little confidence that they will be able to pay for it, and just 13 percent are “very sure” they have long-term care insurance, while 4 out of 10 mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay for their care.

Making matters worse, the cost of long-term care is getting more and more expensive and more and more out of reach for a majority of Americans. The Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey found that the price tag for long-term care has risen steadily over the past five years. The average hourly rate for a home health aide is $20, a rate that has risen by only about 1.28 percent in the last five years. Assisted living care, at $3,628 per month on average for 2016, has grown by 2.16 percent in the last five years.

Nursing home care—at $225 per day—has made the largest jump in cost, of 3.12 percent in the last five years. No matter how you look at, the cost of long-term care is high—staggering in some cases--and there is no indication that any of these costs will decline in the coming years.

There is a very cool calculator on the Genworth website that helps you figure out what your future costs of long-term care will be, right down to the closest major city. I decided to find out what the price tag will be for me 15 years from now in my fair city of Cleveland, and the numbers are sobering: In 2031, the average annual cost for a home health aide will be about $72,184; an assisted living community will set me back $74,315; and a private room in a nursing home will be $142,165 per year.

If you’re skeptical about whether or not you will need this type of care one day, here’s another stat: Seventy percent of people who turn age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives.

What can be done about it? Back in February, a group known as the Convergence Center for Policy Resolutions released a set of recommendations for long-term care financing reform. The framework was developed over the last three years by a group of policy experts and senior-level decision makers representing a “wide range of interests and ideological views,” known as the Long-Term Care Financing Collaborative. Members of the group include Howard Gleckman of the Urban Institute, Jennie Chin Hansen, immediate-past CEO of the American Geriatrics Society, and Gail Wilensky of Project HOPE. Here are some of their recommendations:

  • A universal catastrophic insurance program aimed at providing financial support to those with high levels of care needs over a long period of time.
  • Private sector initiatives and public policies that will revitalize the long-term care insurance market to help address non-catastrophic LTSS risk.
  • Efforts to encourage retirement savings and develop more efficient and innovative use of home equity to assist middle- and upper-income families finance LTSS needs for those risks that are not covered by catastrophic insurance benefits.
  • A modernized Medicaid LTSS safety net for those with limited lifetime incomes who are not able to save for these care needs, as well as for those who deplete their assets paying for medical and long-term care costs, including more flexible public programs that can deliver care in the setting most appropriate to the needs of individuals.
  • Stronger support for families and communities that are the bedrock for people receiving care at home.
  • Better integration of medical treatment and personal assistance.

Although the group acknowledged that many details are yet to be worked out and many questions remain unanswered regarding LTSS financing, they call for more research and “better support stakeholder agreement and informed policy making.”

Not surprisingly, support for policies to help caregivers face the costs of providing long-term care is widespread. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed for the NORC study said they support state programs to provide paid family leave, 83 percent support tax breaks for caregivers, and 73 percent support a Social Security earnings credit for caregivers taking time out from the workforce to provide care.

Just as the cost of college tuition looms for many of us 40-plus Americans, so too does the specter of shelling out thousounds for long-term care. This cohort needs to be educated about what kind of care they will need as they grow older and the reality of how much it will cost.

As these issues are worked through over the coming months (and years), it is wise to look for opportunities for your organization to inform the conversation. Explore solutions you might offer to meet the needs of a cohort with widely varying levels of need, extremely high expectations … and limited resources.

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Topics: Senior care, home care, long term care, senior living, assisted living