By Natalie Haynes, Contributor
I write this as a researcher, but also as a daughter with a mother “aging in place”. And I leverage technology every day to help her stay at home. It’s great that we have cell phones, Amazon, grocery delivery services, car services, security cameras, etc.
My mother doesn’t like any of these things, by the way. For her, change is not easy. So I often have to meet her on her terms.
A Saturday Night Live skit about the Amazon Echo and Alexa captured this idea very well:
As a researcher I see two sets of needs here, and that’s born out in a Metametrix search. The persons aging in place and the people who love them have overlapping but ultimately different emotional needs.
One person is feeling an escalating loss of control and privacy. The other is much more likely to prioritize safety and care.
One of the articles from a Metametrix search highlights the mixed concerns.
A clusters analysis looks at what concepts are found together in web articles, and for the topic of “aging in place”, some of the clusters tie to concerns of help at home, security, falling in the bathroom (falls are the leading cause of injury-related death over age 65.)
A values analysis looks at what’s important when people talk about this topic online.
It’s not surprising to me that control is the #1 value, since for me, that’s been the biggest point of friction with my mother: figuring out who does what now. And when do you take keys away? And when do you take a checkbook away? I am not answering that here, but what I do want to point out is that this is a huge opportunity to serve two populations of people: the aging AND the care-givers. And technology is making it so much easier to stay at home as one ages.
And as the Saturday Night Live skit so humorously reiterates, we have to meet the populations we’re trying to reach, on their terms.
What this means for business:
The two populations dealing with aging–those that are aging in place and the caretakers–present a unique opportunity and challenge to meet the customer where they are.
In my case, marketing to my mother would be best from word of mouth through her church friends. Marketing to me would come through Amazon reviews or something similar. In both cases it’s word of mouth, but it’s a different format and only realized when you truly understand your customer.