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The Intergenerational Imperative: Why We’ve Never Needed Each Other More

Written for and published in ICAA Journal  by Lori K. Bitter, MS

Intergenerational. It’s the hot new buzzword in aging though it’s been around for years. It’s also steaming hot at a time when ageism is rampant and headlines report workplace warfare between Boomers and Millennials. To be sure, the unrest is real. Boomers lost jobs during the Great Recession and have struggled to earn again at the same rate. Millennials stayed in their parents’ homes, not earning enough to launch into an independent adult life. Throw family caregiving for loved ones into the mix and a clear pattern of interdependency begins to be clear.

SEISMIC SHIFTS
How did we get here? The current picture starts with increases in longevity. Since 1900 we’ve added 30 additional years of life. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans living into their 90s will quadruple between 2010 and 2050,4 while the United Nations projects a 351% increase in the global population of adults 85+ over that same period. Unfortunately, the expectations of roles and life stages are rooted in the 1960s. Contrary to common thought, those 30 additional years aren’t simply tacked onto the end of life. Rather, they are distributed throughout the adult life stages, creating seismic shifts that our culture has yet to catch up with.

“By ‘understanding the real root of what is happening across the generational spectrum,’ we can create approaches that recognize interdependencies plus value and benefit all generations”

Young adulthood, midlife and old age are all being transformed by the addition of these years. Yet the changes continue to be written off as generational stereotypes. Understanding the real root of what is happening across the generational spectrum allows us to recognize it and work with it for the benefit of all generations

We are culturally stuck in the life stage paradigm of the last century. We followed a fairly consistent and predictable life script: 1. Go to School
2. Find a Job 3. Get Married  4. Have Children  5. Work Hard 6. Retire.

A few lucky people had some years of leisure before they died. This model has gone the way of the rotary phone, but the universal mindset has not made the change. Or, as author and gerontologist Barbara Waxman says in The Middlescence Manifesto, “We have a cultural lag. People have a lot of needless dissonance between perception and the reality of how our lives are unfolding.”

Markers of change
Life is messier. The predictable script is gone. Yet there is a discomfort with the idea of not living up to the old ideal. Consider some of these markers of change:

  • Young adults
    Taking longer to enter and finish education
    Waiting longer to marry
    Waiting longer to have children
  • “Middlescents”
    Changing career direction
    Retraining/educating
    Starting businesses
    Taking sabbaticals
  • Older adults
    Working to age 70 and beyond
    Remarrying
    Continuing education

Adulthood at every stage has seen shifts. Rather than using ageist stereotypes to put one generation down to elevate another, or feeling uncomfortable for not fitting an old-school life map, we can embrace this opportunity to create an intergenerational approach that recognizes our inherent interdependencies and values every generation for their contributions.

CHANGING PARADIGMS
Let’s examine some areas in which the shifting maps of adulthood contribute to significant intergenerational issues.

Housing
Housing is one of the industries most impacted by these life stage changes. In the US, more than 50% of Boomers have less than USD$100k saved for retirement, though many view their homes as a significant retirement asset. Most will need to sell the large family home and convert that equity to retirement income. But the demand for these homes may be very small. (This will force many Boomers to look to financial tools such as reverse mortgages.)

Millennials are not purchasing their own homes at the same rates of previous generations. They report the size of their student loans as the major issue in not being able to save for a down payment or qualify for a mortgage. With student-loan debt topping USD$1.4 trillion (and growing), research by Citizens Bank found that 60% of college graduates ages 35 and younger expect to be paying these loans into their 40s. Concern also transcends generational divides. Research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that 2.8 million borrowers are 60 years or older, parents and grandparents of Millennial students.

The rental market
The dream of home ownership isn’t just an issue for younger generations. In 2016, home ownership in the US reached an historic low. While Millennials are part of the issue, surging Boomer interest in renting can’t be discounted.

A 2015 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that families and married couples ages 45–64 accounted for roughly twice the share of renter growth as households under age 35. In urban areas with highly competitive rental markets, it is younger renters who are losing to older renters with greater ability to pay, creating increased need for affordable rental housing.

To manage the cost of living in their homes or high rents, Boomers increasingly choose to live with a roommate. Just like Millennials, Boomers also live with roommates for social reasons. Companies, like Silvernest.com, are emerging to help older adults find roommates and provide a range of services to ensure the success of the match. Some of these matches end up being from multiple generations.

Multigenerational living
Alternatively, there is a growing trend of Boomers remaining in the larger family home and housing multiple generations under the same roof. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the US population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to Pew Research Center. For the first time, young adults have replaced elders as the second adult generation in the household.

Three-generation households—grandparents, parents and grandchildren—include more than 27 million people, while about a million people live in households with more than three generations. Another 3.2 million Americans live in grandparent/grandchild homes. Developers have begun to recognize the needs of these households and have created models to accommodate multiple generations. Companies have evolved to create accessory dwellings—nicknamed “granny garages”—to place on properties with existing homes to house family members. And nonprofits, like Fairhill Partners in Cleveland, Ohio, have developed apartments for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The rise in multigenerational living is one reason why fewer Americans live alone now than they did in 1990.

Caregiving
Increased longevity means more generations are now involved in providing care to older loved ones. In the US, the average age of family caregivers is trending younger at 49 years old. Caregiving has also become much more of a family affair. Generation X and the Millennial Generation are stepping into caregiving roles—47% of caregivers are 18–49 years of age. Part of this shift is due to their availability to provide care due to unemployment or underemployment.

The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP report that 20% of caregivers are over age 65. There are also 1.4 million (and this estimate is low) children ages 8–18 who take care of a parent, grandparent or other elder, according to the American Association of Caregiving Youth. These hidden caregivers miss school, have little normal social life, and no support network as they navigate caring for the adults in their lives.

A looming crisis?
Cultural shifts have also led to changes in family structures and stability. Divorced and remarried at “unprecedented levels” in their younger years, Boomers have largely been responsible for the doubling of divorce rates in the 50-and-older age group since 1990. Their families are also typically smaller (fewer than two children). So what will caregiver support look like in the future?

In 2010, the ratio of available caregivers to people requiring care was 7:1. This number will continue to fall, to 4:1, as America’s Boomers push over the 80-year-old threshold in 2030. Between 2030 and 2040, the 80+ population will increase 44% while the number of caregivers increases by only 10%. The ratio completely bottoms out to less than 3:1 in 2040, when the Boomers are in old, old age. (In fact, caregiver support ratios will tumble in many countries worldwide.) Additionally, the higher percentage of unmarried Boomers and Boomers without children will require new kinds of support systems not dependent on family caregivers.

Technology is emerging to address some aspects of care. There is still a growing gap, however, in the number of jobs that will be created as a result of aging, and the number of people available to fill those roles.

Aging workforce
Who will work in aging? At some point in the 1980s, vocational education began to disappear from high schools, and the expectation grew that the majority of graduates would go to college. The tide is turning. But it’s not turning fast enough to create the healthcare and technology workforce required for the aging Boomers.

Emerging models aim to address the need for this workforce, with a focus on bridging the generational divide. Connect The Ages is a social enterprise on a mission to connect 5 million students to careers in aging by 2025. The time is certainly right to bridge the potential of Millennials and Generation Z to the aging population.

“Most students aren’t aware jobs in aging even exist, let alone future-proof, interdisciplinary jobs with room for advancement,” says 28-year-old Connect The Ages Founder and AARP Innovation Fellow Amanda Cavaleri. “We want to help educators introduce careers in aging to students by first bridging generational divides. Through our grassroots campaigns, students experience the often unknown positive side of aging and have opportunities to explore this impactful, purposeful work.”

Connect The Ages has released interviews with dozens of Millennials in aging, including architects, entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, lawyers, policymakers and technologists. Complementing the interviews is a national grassroots outreach and intergenerational storytelling and mentorship campaign. Many of the Millennials who work in aging report finding the field entirely by chance. This is not a sustainable way to meet the industry’s needs. Connect the Ages wants to create an active strategy to engage more young people in the field.

THE IMPERATIVE
We are just scratching the surface of understanding the interconnectedness of the generations and the need to work together toward solving the issues ahead of us. The imperative for our organizations, and our industry, is to discover, support and create initiatives that work toward a better-connected intergenerational future that will advance the aging field with young people and benefit everyone. We’ve never needed each other more.

References

1. National Institute on Aging and World Health Organization. (2011). Global Health and Aging. Living Longer, pp. 6–8. NIH Publication no. 11-7737. Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/publication/global-health-and-aging/living-longer.

2. Waxman, B. (2016). The Middlesence Manifesto: Igniting the Passion of Midlife. Kentfield, CA: The Middlescence Factor.

3. Data 360. Life Expectancy Studies, 2016. Available at http://www.data360.org.

4. He, W., & Muenchrath, M. N., US Census Bureau. (2011). American Community Survey Reports, ACS-17, 90+ in the United States: 2006–2008, p. 2. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2011/acs/acs-17.pdf.

5. Collinson, C. (2016). Perspectives on Retirement: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers. P. 70. Los Angeles, CA: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Retrieved on June 26, 2017, from https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirement-survey-of-workers/tcrs2016_sr_perspectives_on_retirement_baby_boomers_genx_millennials.pdf.

6. Federal Reserve Board. (2017, June 7). Consumer Credit – G.19. Accessed June 27, 2017, from https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/current/default.htm.

7. Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (2016, April 4). Press release: Millennial College Graduates with Student Loans Now Spending Nearly One-Fifth of Their Annual Salaries on Student Loan Repayments [Millennial Graduates in Debt study]. Retrieved on June 26, 2017, from http://investor.citizensbank.com/about-us/newsroom/latest-news/2016/2016-04-07-140336028.aspx.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, The Center for Microeconomic Data. (n.d.). Data Bank. 2016 Student Loan Data Update. Number of Student Loan Borrowers by Age Group. Accessed June 28, 2017, from https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/databank.html.

9. Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University. (2015). The State of the Nation’s Housing 2015. Retrieved on June 26, 2017, from http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/research/publications/state-nations-housing-2015.

10.Cohn, D., & Passel, J. S. (2016). FactTank News in the Numbers. A record 60.6 million Americans live in multigenerational households. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved on June 27, 2017, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/11/a-record-60-6-million-americans-live-in-multigenerational-households.

11. National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute. (2015). Caregiving in the US 2015. Retrieved on June 27, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015-report-revised.pdf.

12. American Association of Caregiving Youth. (2015). More Facts about Caregiving Youth. Accessed on June 28, 2017, from https://www.aacy.org/index.php/more-facts-about-caregiving-youth.

13. Stepler, R. (2017). FactTank News in the Numbers. Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/09/led-by-baby-boomers-divorce-rates-climb-for-americas-50-population.

14. Redfoot, D., Feinberg, L., & Houser, A. (2013). The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Narrowing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers. INSIGHT on the Issues, 85. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. Retrieved on June 27, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/ltc/2013/baby-boom-and-the-growing-care-gap-insight-AARP-ppi-ltc.pdf.

15. Centre for Policy on Ageing. (2014). CPA Rapid Review. The care and support of older people–an international perspective. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from http://www.cpa.org.uk/information/reviews/CPA-Rapid-Review-The-care-and-support-of-older-people-an-international-perspective.pdf.

Destination Mumbai: Transforming Aging with Smartphones

by Ushma Mody, with Jeff Rosenfeld, Ph.D.

India’s economic boom has brought technology to the masses.  And no technology has been as transformative in India than the smartphone.  More affordable than the laptop or ipad, the smartphone has almost become a necessity in India.

Until about ten years ago, it would have been unheard of for lower-income Indians to own, or even have access to smart phones.  But by 2016, millions of Indian people had smartphones.  In fact, a 2016 survey of 70 nations worldwide found that India had the world’s second-largest number of smartphone users, exceeded only by China.  (Wikipedia, “List of Countries [N=70] by Number of Mobile Phones in Use”).

By 2017, the number of mobile phone users in India is projected to be 730.7 million, again the world’s second highest number after China. An estimated 10% of them, or 73 million, will be Indians aged 50+.  And nearly 10% of them will have smartphones (Forbes, “India Becomes the World’s Second-Largest Smartphone Market,” 3 February, 2016.)

India’s mature markets have embraced mobile phone usage with gusto.  Although people aged 60+ now comprise only 7.5% of India’s vast population, the percentage who are mobile phone users is higher than in younger cohorts of the population.

According to The Times of India, the percentage of mobile phone users aged 55+ had “…practically doubled between 2012 and 2013…rising from 5% in 2012, to 9% in 2013.” (Forbes, 3 February, 2016).  As India is reshaped by the Age Wave, smartphone usage will continue to rise. Without a doubt, mature markets will continue impacting on the development and marketing of smartphones.

The Business of Aging: India’s Age Wave Shapes  Smartphone Markets

During the past 6 years, the price of smartphones in India dropped steadily, which has both increased demand for smartphones, and encouraged the introduction of India’s first “Senior-Friendly” smartphone.

In October of 2014, telecommunications giant Mitashi began marketing the Mitashi Senior Smartphone AP103 (NDTV Correspondent, “Mitashi Play Senior Friend Android Smartphone Launched at Rs. 4,999” Gadgets 360, Oct 21 2014).  The AP103 was developed in response to India’s Age Wave, and was marketed aggressively to India’s  Seniors.  Among its selling points were:

  • The “SOS” Feature: In addition to standard smartphone features, such as internet, text-messaging, phone service and camera, the AP103 had an “SOS” feature, which allowed for rapid dialing to get help during an emergency; and
  • A “Senior-Friendly” Face: The AP103 offered larger font (by default), brighter colors, and larger buttons. This was supposed to make the AP103 is easier for visually impaired people to read.  Its larger buttons were said to be easier on arthritic fingers.

The AP103 was not well received by Seniors, however.  Sales were sluggish.  Complaints and criticisms went viral.  As early as 2014, the same year as the rollout, e-commerce websites were flooded with complaints and snarky reviews of the AP103.

For example, shortly after the roll-out in 2014, older people began complaining that the AP103’s microphone-system was faulty.  Even worse, there were complaints about AP103’s battery life.  According to comments and reviews on Amazon, battery-life was so low that the smartphone needed to be recharged more than once a day.

Worst of all, dissatisfied customers across India insisted that there was nothing especially “Senior Friendly” about the AP103.  The time was right for competitors to step-in.  A year later, in 2015, another telecommunications company did precisely that.

Smartphone Wars: Competition For A Market-Share

In 2015, SeniorWorld launched a competitive smartphone called EasyFone, which was also intended for mature markets.  EasyFone had similar but more sophisticated features: An SOS emergency call button which texted for help along with telephoning; a battery which held its charge much longer; and a standing dock which doubled as a charger.  The goal of this last feature was to automatically charge the phone every time it rested on this stand, thus eliminating the need for Seniors to (re)charge the smartphone

Other features include the option of adding photographs next to the names and phone numbers of important contacts; also, larger buttons and fonts.  In addition, the EasyFone comes in brighter colors. Snappy colors, larger font, and the option of “photo calling,” or selecting phone numbers from the phone’s directory on the basis of a photo rather than a name) proved to be appealing to Seniors. Like Mitashi’s smartphone, this one is also inexpensive, priced at around $80.

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-18-29-pm

There is also a SeniorWorld website (Indian-based).  Along with promoting the EasyFone, the SeniorWorld website offers a blog, healthcare self-testing options for older people, and even a “Hobbies” page which offers information on some of the most popular pass times of older people: Gardening, exercise, cooking and more.

EasyFone, along with the SeniorWorld website,  have been well received by India’s Mature Markets. People who had bought this phone for their parents report that they seem to be happy with the phone, and involved with the website.

Like so many Third-World nations, India is now experiencing a demographic transition.  Not only is India’s business world becoming more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the mature marketplace, the sheer size of that marketplace makes it more important than ever. The EasyFone is already being joined by new and more Senior-Friendly competitors.  Senior-friendly products such as this are ringing-in a new age for Smartphones, and a new age for India as well.

Contact:  Ushma Mody:      Ushmamody28@gmail.com

Jeff Rosenfeld:  Rosenfej@newschool.edu

References

Forbes, “India Becomes the World’s Second-Largest Smartphone Market,” 3 February,2016.

NDTV Correspondent, “Mitashi Play Senior Friend Android Smartphone Launched at Rs. 4,999” Gadgets 360, October 21 2014.”

NDTV Correspondent, “Five Senior-Friendly Phones Available in India, October 14, 2014.

The Times Of India, Seniors Ditch Old Tech, Call On Smartphones. November 7, 2014. Saritha Raj.

Wikipedia, “List of Countries [N=70] by Number of Mobile Phones in Use”.

Biosketch: Ushma Mody graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Parsons, the New School for Design (New York), majoring in Interior Design. Her favored secondary subject was history – of art, design and architecture. During her time at Parsons, she was named to the Dean’s list, and also won the award for Outstanding Design upon graduating. She worked for Wid Chapman Architects in New York, post-graduation. She currently lives in India with her family, and will be a Masters student at New York School of Interior Design, beginning in the  Fall 2016, semester.  At NY School of Design she will focus on designing Sustainable Interior Environments.

Aging & Innovation in Other Cultures: Destination Cuba

This week’s installment features the work of Steve Minkin, and is edited by Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Ph.D. of Parsons School of Design. 

When the embargo is finally lifted, Cuba could become an emerging market for American companies concerned with the “business of aging”. The statistics are strikingly clear. Cuba has one of the oldest populations in the Americas, and demographic trends virtually ensure that by 2030 the country will be the oldest in the hemisphere.

Cuba today has about 11.1 million inhabitants. The percentage of Cubans living into old age is moving higher everyday. In 2015, one out of every five Cubans was reported to be above 60 years old. By 2025 the ratio is expected rise to 1:4. In less than 10 years 25% of Cubans will be over 60.

In 2030, less than 15 years from now, 30% of Cubans will have entered their 60+ senior years. Revolutionary Successes:  It is common demographic wisdom that healthy, educated societies have low birth rates. Pre-revolutionary Cuba was characterized by a stark contrast between the lives of the rich and poor with very little in between. The country was controlled by a dictatorial, mafia-connected, brutal and corrupt regime. The majority of the country was uneducated. Infant, child and maternal mortality was rampant.

From its inception the Castro government emphasized education and a system of free national health care. As a result, Cuba, although poor, boasts the highest literacy rates in the Americas and the lowest rates of infant, children and maternal mortality. By these demographic measures,  Cuba fares better than the United States and is demographically comparable with Canada.

Cuba only spends a fraction of what we do on health care, but average Cuban life expectancy is equal to that in the United States.

One reason for Cuba’s longevity rate, is that this island nation is a very safe place to live. There is virtually no gun violence, and drugs are not a major social and public problem. Education and health have had powerful impacts on the age structure of Cuba. Most Cuban women delay childbirth in order to continue their educations and careers. The Cuban demographic profile is nearly reverse of that of most other Caribbean and Latin American countries, where the age structure looks like a pyramid.  A pyramidic population  is a “Young Population,” which means there is a high fertility rate, and lots of kids. The pyramid-shape results from the fact that the mortality rate is very high. Most of the children in a “Young Population” will die-off before they reach adolescence.  As a result, the population narrows as the cohort gets older.

The Cuban age-structure is now comparable to that of other demographically aged nations, and not the younger Latin-American ones:  The Cuban population-base is narrow.  It “fattens” with the succession of years, because most people live longer than  ever before. Cuba’s population is aging, and along with that, a larger percentage of Cubans are approaching “advanced old age” (80+) than ever before.

cuba-grandpaThe Cuban government makes it easy to postpone having children. Family Planning is nearly free and medically safe abortions are easy to obtain. When children are born, the mother, or if the family chooses the father, is allowed one year paid leave. After that free childcare and nursery school is followed by tuition-free quality education, encompassing elementary and high school, university and professional schools. Physicians, engineers, scientists, as well as, teachers, artists, musicians, dancers and all other fields graduate debt-free. However, newly minted graduates enter a low wage job market that is still largely controlled by the state. As a result, many educated Cubans seek opportunities abroad as economic migrants in search of higher incomes. This partial brain drain contributes to the aging of the populations and creating a rift in the more comfortable patterns of elder care many Cubans have grown used to enjoying. In socialist Cuba, most families live in intergenerational homes or apartments that are owned free and clear of debt.

As a result, the Cuban family remains the most common source of support for the elderly. Cuban Seniors are culturally respected, and as required, they are cared for at home.

The government and/or the Catholic Church and other charities operate Casas Abuelos or so-called grandparents homes. These provide daytime recreational and cultural opportunities as well as meals, health and social services. The responsibility to ensure that elderly are not locked-in, ignored and depressed remains a community and governmental priority. Doctors and nurses and social workers regularly perform home visits. In the future the aging population will likely face new social dynamics as the economy opens up to private enterprise, which currently accounts for about 25% of GDP. Opportunities for buying and selling properties are increasing and  increasing numbers of mobile young Cubans are choosing to live separately or migrate in search of work abroad.

As more elderly people live alone, tools for remote care will become increasingly necessary, especially in families where the younger generation has moved overseas. Emergency alert systems will find a place and could readily be incorporated into the existing neighborhood heath care structure based on 24 hours on-call medical services. Such devices could become widely available following investments in building the necessary  technical and marketing infrastructures. The outdated US embargo, however, places US companies at a serious disadvantage. The Chinese, Canadians or Europeans are likely to dominate the field unless the Congress votes to end the embargo – the “white elephant” standing in the way of US-Cuban business opportunities.

Next week, Destination Mumbai, with  Ushma Mody. 

Contacts:  sfminkin@yahoo.com; rosenfej@newschool.edu

The Un-Stuffing Of America: The #1 Business Opportunity Serving The Boomer Population

Reprinted from MediaPost Engage Boomers

It isn’t a technology solution. It is decidedly low-tech. It’s not a medical device, but it does ease suffering. And while we sometimes joke about hoarding, older adults are buried in stuff — the accumulation of a lifetime (or two). The resistance to letting go of it is an enormous issue for caregivers, senior living providers and aging in place experts. Of all of the issues of caregiving, this one is the gift that literally keeps on giving.

I profess my expertise. 

I come from a long line of near-hoarders. My grandmother, who passed away at 98 on our family farm, was a collector — antique furniture, dishes, books, family photographs, recipes … she had my grandfather’s college report cards squirreled away! And I had the task of helping to empty her home and prepare for her estate sale. (Read that as two truckloads of stuff making its way from Missouri to my very small Bay-area home — including her restored Victorian baby carriage — because who doesn’t need one of those?)

My mother, whose basement was nearly at intervention stage, had a fire and her house burned down. She lost everything, but continues to joke that she saved us from the work of going through that stuff. The positive outcome was that she and my stepfather moved to a very livable, beautiful home in an age-targeted community with plenty of features for aging in their home.

Caregivers & Professionals

In our research with family caregivers, it isn’t medication management or fall prevention that keeps them up at night, though they care deeply about those things. It is their worry over what to do with all of their parents’ stuff. The conversations with their parents can be as precarious as the “time to give up the car keys” talk. At a time in their life when seniors are losing friends, giving up hobbies and freedoms, their treasures are very important. The irony is that seniors believe staying in their homes as long as possible is easing a burden on their children. The reality is that it shifts the burden from the finances of long-term care to extended time and expense of wrapping up their affairs after death.

Senior housing professionals know that stuff keeps older adults from moving to homes that are better designed for their needs — both physical and social. Aging-in-place professionals and occupational therapists know the dangers all of the stuff creates in the home. Caregivers tell us that the aftermath of losing a loved one is so complicated by the dispensation of stuff that their mourning and grief is put on hold sometimes for several years.

The data is the stuff that companies are built on

Two-thirds of 18-34 year olds value experiences over possessions. They don’t value or want the stuff. And if HGTV is any indication, they are buying tiny houses with the storage capacity of a file drawer. That’s if they can afford to buy a home at all. Perhaps it’s growing up with the stuff that has created this desire for a simpler existence.

I work with smart entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas for apps and devices that serve older consumers, some more scalable than others. You want scale, consider this:

  • There are 50,000 storage facilities in the U.S. — five times the number of Starbucks. That’s 2.3 billion square feet.
  • 50% of storage renters are simply storing what won’t fit in their homes even though the average home size has doubled in that last 50 years.
  • Currently there are 7.3 square feet of self-storage for every man, woman and child in the nation. One in 10 Americans rents offsite storage. It’s the fastest-growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades (New York Times Magazine)
  • 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them; 32% have room for only one car (U.S. Department of Energy)
  • The home organization industry, valued at $8 billion, has more than doubled since 2000 at a rate of 10% each year (Uppercase)

Services like moving, packing, estate sales and auction sites are fragmented and require time, trust, and oversight. Rarely are there services of social workers, gerontologists or care managers to start the conversations, provide resources or support family caregivers. But everyday there are millions of families are trying to figure this out. This is a service worth figuring out. (After I figure out which key goes to which storage unit.)

*Data aggregated by becomingminimalist.com 

13th ANNUAL WHAT’S NEXT BOOMER SUMMIT COMES TO THE NATION’S CAPITAL , MARCH 23, 2016

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Nation’s Leading Conference Brings Together Boomer Marketing Experts and Industry Leaders to Focus on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy”

Washington, D.C. plays host to the 2016 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, the nation’s leading annual conference for the boomer and senior markets. Taking place on Wednesday, March 23rd at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the upcoming summit shines a spotlight on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy” and includes a prestigious lineup of speakers, sessions, and exhibitors. Learn More →

Join me in Chicago at ASA’s Aging in America 2015 & What’s Next Boomer Summit

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I will be in Chicago from March 23rd through the 27th for a week-long conference with aging professionals from all over the world. I am delighted to be presenting a program on Grandparents and Intergenerational Trends for ASA’s Aging in America Conference. Christine Crosby, Founder of GRAND Magazine will be joining me on this program:

The Grandparent Economy: How Families Are Evolving in Unprecedented Times
Tuesday, March 24th 1-2 PM
For more information: http://www.asaging.org/aia Learn More →

The Business Of…Assistive Listening Devices

For this week’s show, The Business of… Assistive Listening Devices for Older Consumers, we have guest Michele Ahlman, President of ClearSounds Communications, a Chicago-based privately held company that provides high-quality sound enhancing products for the boomer, senior and caregivers market. As a leading provider of niche telephone and communication products, ClearSounds is the leading manufacturer and distributor of ClearSounds branded products including amplified phones, signaling devices, TV listening systems, clocks, audio accessories and cellular products.

Learn More →

Autumn Issue of C2 magazine: The Future of Caring

So much has changed since our last issue of C2! The one constant is that the economic outlook continues to provoke anxiety. Older adults appear to be faring better in some respects than younger generations, though our studies show they continue to live under a cloud of worry. Many are expressing this as the loss of the American dream for younger generations, particularly their children and grandchildren.

Continuum Crew has experienced positive growth as the mature consumer market continues to be able to spend on a number of products and services for themselves and their extended families. In fact, a new MetLife Report on American Grandparents (July 2011) notes that households led by those aged 55 to 64 increased their non-health related spending by an average of $11,700 over the past ten years, when their household income rose just $1,200. Further, in the same ten-year period 55- to 64-year-olds spent $7.6 billion on baby food, infant equipment and clothing, toys, games, and tricycles – a 71% increase. Household spending for the 25- to 44-year-old households with children present saw a far smaller rate of increase indicating that baby boomer grandparents are helping in all new ways. (Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Surveys).

It has never been more important to listen carefully to consumers to understand what they want from products and services, and how they want to be engaged. Continuum Crew launched Crew Media earlier this year to purchase Eons.com – the only baby boomer social network. Founded in 2006 by Jeff Taylor, also founder of Monster.com, Eons has more than 800,000 members who have started more than 1,700 groups focused on their passions and interests. Learn more about it from community manager Ri Regina on page 13.

Also under the Crew Media banner is our partnership with GRAND – the digital magazine for the grandparenting lifestage. As a first-time grandmother to baby Gabriel McClain, I am proud to be GRAND’s new publisher.

Another initiative we launched this past spring is Move Beyond Age, a coalition of individuals and companies who are committed to making smart design a quality of life issue. We are encouraging companies to design better products and services for older consumers, which in turn create better experiences for every generation. Take a look at Jeffrey DeMure’s article on the Bookend Markets, Bill Yates on GreatCall, and Stephen Winner on the Silverado Story, for examples of companies and thought leaders who understand the importance of designing smart products and services.

Also new to Continuum Crew is The Business of Aging radio show on WeEarth Global Radio Network – WGRN. The show is also available here on our blog and on iTunes. In this issue we share our first show of the season, an interview with Patricia Lippe Davis from AARP Media Sales on her view of the mature consumer marketplace. We are currently in our second season and hope you will join our listenership as we talk about successful strategies for engaging consumers over 40.

With that, I am pleased to present to you our latest issue of 
C2 magazine, Issue 27, Autumn 2011

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our market and our work here at Continuum Crew!

Lori Bitter,
Editor-in-Chief, C2 magazine

Building With Multiple Generations In Mind

The recently released MetLife Report on American Grandparents revealed that 1 in 10 households is headed by a grandparent with at least one grandchild living there. The study reports that part of the reason for this is high rates of unemployment among the children’s parents. Interestingly, in 1980 there were only 28 million Americans living in a household that included two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation. By 2008 the number was 49 million Americans living inter-generationally.

In a recent New York Times story about this trend, Kermit Baker, a senior fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard and the chief economist of the American Institute of Architects, said, “Immigrants are a source of growing demand (for intergenerational homes), and their household composition is different in fundamental ways from the domestic-born.”

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ClearSounds


Continuum Crew is proud to announce we are working with ClearSounds!

ClearSounds, along with its founding company, HITEC Group, is a small, women-owned business that has served the needs of people with hearing & vision loss with simple, cost effective solutions for almost 30 years. ClearSounds Communications is the leading manufacturer of cutting-edge assistive listening devices and amplified communication products for individuals experiencing mild-to-moderate hearing loss, which include corded & cordless phones, bluetooth headsets, neckloops, signalers, clocks & TV listeners.