By Steve Moran
Not just senior living but the whole world and even -- or maybe especially -- Baby Boomers are trying to figure out Baby Boomers.
Here is the headline from The Wall Street Journal: Baby Boomers Looking for Reinvention Try College—Again.
What is happening is that Baby Boomers who are either late in their career or even at the end of their career are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Lots of great minds are thinking about this problem/opportunity/challenge right now.
Next month Chip Conley will start beta testing a resort in Mexico where he will be helping people figure this out. And yes, I am going to make the big sacrifice of being a beta guinea pig spending a week checking it out and I will report back . . . I know, hard duty.
The Point of Life
There is a lot of chatter about Millennials and their deep-seated desire to work for companies that are making a difference in the world and this is a good thing. I would argue the Millennials are late to the table and that it is largely the Boomers who launched this trend. They are the ones that taught their kids this should be a core value, deeply embedded in their DNA.
I believe we are hardwired to serve (maybe too metaphysical for you, so I will stop with that). In prior generations, churches and religious organizations provided a framework for meaning and purpose but today there is a large degree of skepticism about religion or at least church organizations, often even in those who are still pretty committed to religion.
So today there is this big hole.
What If …
What if someone started a senior living community or better yet an organization where the whole focus was reinventing in the last chapter or chapters of your life? You might argue, reinvent if you have memory issues or if your body is frail? My answer is “Sure why not?”
I continue to be fearful that we are woefully underestimating the capacity to serve, to give back, to work, to grow, to go nuts . . . on the part of our resident and prospect population.
I have on a few occasions written articles where I suggested senior living communities ought to have positions where residents can work for wages. I have never or almost never had anyone say . . . “You know that is a cool idea” or “We are already doing that.” I have heard a number of folks tell me why it is a bad idea. Mostly revolving around the idea that residents would gossip.
Gossip is a problem and not just with residents. I think the problem is that we assume they can’t or wouldn’t and anytime we assume that about anything is in my view a problem.
I would note that one the smartest people I know and one my most trusted advisors is Jack Cumming who is a senior living resident . . . and regular contributor to Senior Housing Forum.
I am pretty sure he is not looking for a job at a senior living community but honestly he would be a real asset and would be worth the salary.
A senior living community that is focused on purpose would be what I am looking for and the data suggests it would serve the needs and desires of a lot of Boomers.