We all know the research. Older adults value independence. A recent study stated that 96% of adults over the age of 65 said it was “important to stay as independent as long as possible as we age.” For most of us, the picture we have in our heads when we make a statement like this is some version of our best self – healthy, financially secure, free from worry and risk. It’s the version of ourselves that does what we want when we want. But when in life has that ever been true for anyone?
For many senior living marketers, this statistic represents a base obstacle to community living. It quantifies, in a hard number, the mindset that says, “If I have to move, I’m going to lose some of my independence.” For some who ultimately make this decision, a move is a compromise of sorts. A “make the best of it” decision based on all the variables. But does it have to be? Can’t a move to a community be an enhancement of independence, a regaining of independence, a prolonging of independence?
Senior living marketers know the value provided by communities and the freedom and independence they offer residents – at all levels. We know residents, once they’ve settled in, begin to realize this and openly share that they had it wrong before they got there. So let’s work to reframe the meaning of independence with our prospects. I know many of you already do.
Let’s remind prospects that independence has meant different things during their life. As teens, simply having a car and a little money from an after-school job offered independence, even though they still relied mostly on others for their well-being. When they were old enough to move out of their parents’ home, they established their independence even though they had very little money to enjoy that independence. Later as adults, they were able to gain financial independence that gave them more choices, but not unlimited freedom of choice. At every stage, independence is defined by the context of the situation. No less important or valued, but never perfect.
So why must a move to a community be seen as the opposite of independence? Let’s demonstrate choices they have in all aspects of community life, highlight other residents who still work, travel and entertain, share with them their opportunity for involvement in community governance, and more.
Let’s not let an overwhelming figure such as 96% of older adults saying they want to stay as independent as possible be a negative. Let’s embrace it with the knowledge that communities provide, rather than hinder, independence.
If you look at it that way, 96% of every prospect you meet with has a reason to say yes.