If you like this post, please share:

If you liked this post, please share:

Recently, I came across a worldwide survey of older adults by the McKinsey Health Institute (MHI) on what matters to them. But not just what matters to them, but also which of those factors are most strongly associated with their overall perceived health.

The top 6 in the list of 53 factors of individual health in the survey are:

  1. Having purpose
  2. Managing stress
  3. Participating in physical activity
  4. Engaging in lifelong learning
  5. Establishing meaningful connections with others
  6. Having financial security

Something's Missing

And while there's a lot of great stuff in the survey analysis that can inform senior living design decisions, I'm struck by the fact that there's apparently no awareness among older adults of the connection between their health and the health of the planet.

Is this a generational thing? Or a cultural thing?

Perhaps MHI did not include climate change on its list of 53 factors. I was unable to get a detailed copy of their report -- but shame on them if they didn't.

Because according to the World Health Organization, climate change is the single biggest health threat facing people of all ages.

Caring About Climate Change

Do I sound like a broken record?

I wrote about the moral imperative for healthcare to reduce it's carbon footprint in my last post. The senior living industry also needs to step up it's game.

But if their customers don't care about mitigating the effects of climate change, why should senior living owners and operators care about it?

Well, for one thing, many of the real estate investment trusts (REITs) that fund projects in the healthcare and senior living sectors have strong Environmental Social Governance (ESG) polices. Both Welltower and Sabra Health Care recently released reports on their ESG initiatives.

And, according to a recent research white paper by Gensler, environmental responsibility is among the things that are increasingly being required of senior living developers/owners by jurisdictions. "Governments at all levels are now ranking proposals and awarding infrastructure contracts based on the bidding company's ability to deliver simultaneously on resistance to climate change, economic equity, and the needs of a longevity-ready society," the white paper states.

Possible Marketing Strategy

Gensler's paper also states that environmental responsibility is expected by residents. But I'm not so sure.

However, according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans (69%) support the U.S. becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Older adults, though, are less engaged in doing something about climate change.

There are many studies on generational attitudes towards climate change. Google it if you want to know more.

With the right messaging, though, senior living owners and operators can help their residents/potential residents make the connection between their health and the health of the planet. They can also use what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint as a marketing strategy.

That, among other things, will help them design communities that appeal to Boomers who are in their 60s and 70s now.

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Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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