Phillip W. Heath, is an executive at InnovAge, a provider of healthcare services for older adults in Denver, Colorado, and has worked in senior healthcare for more than 25 years.
It’s true. 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day, and it’ll keep happening for the next 20 years or so. And as it happens, Baby Boomers will join other generations in the line for healthcare resources. While some describe Baby Boomers as “entitled,” in this instance knowing what one wants—and this applies to any generation—is critical.
While many Baby Boomers are well-off, as any of us live longer—in 1960 the average life expectancy was 70; in 2012 it was 78—money has a tendency for running out making it difficult to support an independent lifestyle. Many older adults are on the cusp of becoming vulnerable, only a few months away from not having the ability to live independently. Older, poor, highly-vulnerable adults have many challenges: declining health, unsafe housing and cognitive deterioration.
As we live longer care needs to focus on:
High Tech = Better Customer Service, Better Care
Rapid advances in technology allow us to bring services to older adults in ways we couldn’t imagine a few decades ago. This technology positively impacts the care an older adult receives by monitoring utilization of health services and medications, for example. Technology can keep tabs on chronic and acute conditions, and hospital stays. Monitoring and acting on this information provides better, timely care, which leads to improved customer satisfaction and health.
Get What You Want: Pendleton/Nike Mash-up
Today you can customize athletic shoes, even a pair of Nikes with Pendleton plaid, through a few clicks on a website. Baby Boomers expect nothing less and providers of health services must deliver even for those with limited means.
This can be achieved through specialized low-income housing, medical care, end-of-life support and other services. The services can be customized by the person receiving the care, or the person’s family, adding or subtracting services as needed.
Making New Friends
Older adults often struggle to remain engaged as their world shrinks, spending more time alone. But if their world can expand, even if just a bit, with new friends and experiences in a safe environment, Baby Boomers can receive support by a care team and other older adults participating in similar programs. These “adult day programs” have recreation and field trips to support this older population—naturally bringing them into contact with others.
Providers of health services to older adults should always be asking: what’s in it for them?
- Are they getting the health services they need?
- Is technology used to improve the experience?
- How is socialization nurtured?
When these challenges are addressed, healthcare organizations will fulfill an unmet need in the Baby Boomer community for people of all means.