We are in the process of completing a project for a leading senior living brand, developing brand identity, tone of voice and comms. As the work has progressed, we have become immersed in a world that was previously unknown to us.
And fascinating it is.
Smart homes (I mean, really smart), staffed by dedicated professionals, creating and delivering a safe and dignified lifestyle, with three meals a day plus a 24-hour snack bar, for around one hundred residents – average age 87.
Exploring the creative idea reveals how challenging it is to be differentiated in the sector. Lots of photographs of contented older folk, well-groomed and often with a glass of wine close by; use of words such as ‘peaceful’, ‘serene’ and ‘relaxing’; floods of purple.
It all makes sense at the moment. If you’re in your 50s, your parents or older relatives are likely to have been born during the 1940s. Their experience and values are influenced by the tumultuous post war period, their heritage so far removed as to be unrecognisable to us today.
So, it’s understandable those who can might appreciate living in a residence that feels very much like a luxury hotel – chandeliers, oil paintings etc; that they are reassured by feelings of peace and relaxation.
But I’m curious.
How is the sector planning to meet the expectations of the forthcoming generation of octogenarian punk rockers? Or better still, Goths (be careful what you wish for when you are 15).
John Lydon (63) may have mellowed a bit over the years, but I’m not sure bridge or flower arranging will ever be his bag. Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69) is 65 and still gigging tirelessly. He can probably afford a bit of home help, but his fans are going to want to mosh till they drop - maybe there’s an activity involving a ball pit? And Siouxsie Sioux (actually Susan Janet Ballion, 62) might want her rooms painted a little ‘darker’ than normal…
But caution is wisdom in the property business and punk’s short-lived revolution (and it was just that) probably shouldn’t be over influential in shaping strategy for senior living in the future.
If you are loaded (and up for a challenge) you could try The World | Residences at Sea and spend your sunset years on a cruise ship “Imagine the ultimate lifestyle that comes with combining a private yacht and a luxury vacation home.” Quite.
https://aboardtheworld.com (FYI prices start above $1 million and prospective owners must prove a net worth of at least $10 million).
Much more interesting is our broader cultural landscape. What opportunities are there to create distinctive, relevant and inspiring ways of living for our diverse, aging population. It’s about more than décor. What ideas are policymakers, planners and developers considering and how can creative people contribute?
The rise and rise of multi-generational living prompts opportunities for radical new ways we could live as we age. From the simple to pragmatism of sharing the council tax bill to the mental health benefits of old and young participating in life together; or exciting new architecture exploring how homes for the future might work make the case for inventive solutions that challenge the definition of a house.
There is enormous potential as well as need for bold original thinking. And it’s in all of our interests to contribute to the debate. After all, none of us are getting any younger.