“People Don’t Always Plan To Age In Place, But It Happens Anyway”

Reflecting on how quickly the years have passed

Like many things in life, we don’t always plan that well for the future. This is true for some people more than others. Some people begin planning their retirement the day they take their first job out of college (or even while in college). Conversely, some people live essentially in the moment and don’t really focus on long-term needs such as retirement savings or income – even if actual retirement does not occur.

Taking things one day at a time or not looking too far ahead is a common lifestyle for many people. With daily burdens to consider, people who rely on them for support (children and parents, among others), financial obligations to take care of (paying the bills), and trying to remain afloat (so-to-speak) each day seems to consume the energy of many people – leaving them exhausted and with little interest in thinking about themselves or their long-term needs.

Many people are not so-much procrastinators as we think of it in terms of aging in place as those who put off making decisions that will affect their future or coming to terms with the fact that they are getting older and facing a different set of needs than was the case even recently. Rather than procrastinators, many people are living in the moment. Making decisions for next week, next month, or five years from now is not even on their radar. Today is. Now is.

So, how do we work with this large (but immeasurable) segment of the population of middle age and older who have not begun to or emotionally cannot consider about anything but the here and now? It’s a challenge, but the first step in meeting this challenge head-on is to recognize and accept that this population exists. They need our help, and may even have the resources to pay for some improvements (although it may not always seem that way to them), but getting through to them is a much taller order.

Not all of us are going to be able to serve this group of people who need our help because we have sufficient demands on our time for our services already, We have done a good job of establishing ourselves and creating a strong reputation for what we do so that the marketplace is receptive to what we provide. This is great. Keep at it and continue serving the people who are counting on what we can do to help them.

For some of us, however, we are looking for new inroads into the marketplace, or we are revamping or recreating our business model. We are looking for opportunities. This is a large one.

Reaching a segment of the population who can benefit from what we offer but seemingly is indifferent to needing our help may seem like an exercise in futility. For those who can determine a marketing strategy to reach such individuals on their level, there could be a real connection. Think of it not so much as they don’t want our help or that they are interested in aging in place but that they have never had the luxury of time to be able to even consider it. They are living so much in the moment and dealing with all of the demands on their time, energy, and resources that taking on something else or even diverting some of their mental and emotional energy to consider or plan for themselves remaining in their home successfully is not realistic.

If we have been there ourselves, this would help in crafting a strategy to reach those who are living in the moment. They need our help, but they don’t have time to hit the pause button in their lives to talk with us, and we don’t know what they might need – with each person and each home presenting different challenges and outcomes. We have to determine a way to come alongside them and meet with them where they are without appearing that we are trying to detour them from all of the activities they have going. We might be a great resource for them to help them stay in their homes, create a safer environment for them and everyone else in their household, and enhance their outlook on life.

For those aging in place specialists interested in a challenge that is not being met, consider developing a business model to serve those people who are so caught up living in the moment, for a variety or reasons, that they can’t focus on their longer-term needs. What they need and their budget to accomplish any improvements are less important initially than determining a way to reach this group of individuals and creating a reputation in the marketplace as an available resource for them.

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