Aging in Place: A Marketing Challenge

Education is the best provision for old age.

~Aristotle

Aging in Place

Ever heard the line: “Fiddling while Rome burns”? What the phrase is conveying is a timeless message about human nature and its unintended consequences. It means to occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a crisis.

The origins are argued by Roman historians, but it is attributed to Nero who supposedly played the fiddle (violin) while Rome burned during the great fire in AD 64. Interestingly there was no such instrument as the fiddle in first century Rome it was probably the lyre, further, the historian Suetonius reported Nero was responsible for the fire and he watched it from a tower while playing an instrument and singing about the destruction of Troy. Regardless of validity the story is widely applicable.

Aging in Place is a Euphemism for What?

I bring up Nero to make a point about the challenges of marketing Aging in Place, not just to younger generations, but especially to older ones. The “Informal Caregiver” (not paid) profile is changing as baby boomers age. In the United States 10 million between the ages of 18-34, the Millennials, are moving into the ranks of caregivers. This generation is also associated with ubiquitous use of technology which will play a central role.  This all came to mind when I was watching a youtube video title: THIS WEEK IN TECH 649: Aging in Place, the show is from the TWiT Network with host “The Tech Guy” Leo Laporte. Full disclosure I listen to Leo on occasion and enjoy his show. He and three other guests were discussing CES (electronic show) for some time, and then finally came to the topic of “Aging in Place” technology (Mark: 2:02:48). What struck me was how dismissive Laporte was about aging in place. Leo didn’t know the term and when his guests educated him, he began to joke about it—referring to himself sitting in his chair as “aging in place.” The two younger presenters seemed to take the concept/topic seriously.

Gerontophobia

Laporte (born 1956) displayed what many others do when confronted with mortality issues of aging—they joke it off. This is a common form of Gerontophobia (fear of aging). The problem is distancing oneself from aging postpones proactive steps in developing a strategy. In this case it has to do with aging-in-place technology that “The Tech Guy” (given his age) is more likely to benefit from. The younger guests understand the potential for older people of aging-in-place technology in the home.

I’m encourage by the reactions and knowledge of aging-in-place tech displayed by the millennials in this video. The caregiver baton is being passed on to them and this is a good sign. However, I’m disappointed by Laporte’s lack of interest in the concept—It may hit too close to home as a reminder and this is THE challenge in marketing aging in place to those who most need it. For marketers of aging-in-place technology it is advantageous to focus on the generation one to two layers out from the end-user for obvious reasons. This is a cautionary tale, to focus on a suitcase that follows you around is titillating, but to neglect technology that helps to keep you in your home as you age (usually a crisis buy) is tantamount to fiddling away as Rome burns…

 

See

This Week in Tech 649: Aging in Place

 

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