In 2011, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation celebrated their 65th birthday. In the next few years, the first wave of post-war baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – will begin to retire and we will see a significant increase in the number of seniors and older people. The number of elderly and the rate of aging are expected to increase steeply. According to projections Pew Research Center, about 18% of the United States population will be 65 and over in 2030. How can you, as a small business entrepreneur, take advantage of this fast-growing market segment?
The graying of the population will change the business landscape. As people age, they will have different consumption and saving patterns at different stages in heir lives. The needs of older people are very different from the needs of middle-aged and younger people: older people buy different things than younger people and have less need for borrowing money. We are already seeing massive shifts in business investment, much of which is responding to the changing tastes of an aging population. We will see a gradual substitution away from such purchases as new family homes and automobiles to greater spending on rent and services. While consumption of durables is expected to rise, it will be increasingly dominated by household equipment and furniture purchases.
The baby boomers possess different characteristics from any preceding groups of that age:
- They are richer, have more savings and possess greater disposable income than their parents
- They are healthier, more active and fitness-oriented
- They want to remain independent, and a vast majority of seniors now want to stay in their own homes rather live in nursing homes
- Older people want to continue working beyond their retirement years.
- Here are some suggested business ideas focusing on the older population.
Adult Day Care
Adult day service programs (formerly know as adult day care centers) are achieving new popularity as more and more seniors chose not to live in nursing homes. The advent of home and community long-term care Medicare and Medicaid waiver programs that support alternatives to institutional long-term care and rehabilitation also contributed to its growing popularity. This is a relatively recent service for frail, physically or cognitively impaired, seniors and their caregivers. Stand-alone facilities offering day care are cropping up in urban and suburban areas.
Demand for this kind of service is growing largely due to the benefits it provides to caregivers, particularly the children. With their elderly parents in an adult day care center, the caregivers can retain a job outside of their home, have help with the physical part of caring for a loved one, avoid the guilt of putting a parent in a “home” and obtain respite from what can be a 24-hour responsibility
You could run this type of business if you are qualified to do so. Your goal will be to provide for the physical, emotional, social and mental needs of elderly during the day and return them to their family’s home in late afternoon. To improve customer response, you can offer to include round trip transportation and pick-up services, as well as facilities for bathing and hair washing. The professional qualifications of your staff are also important, and the presence of a registered nurse may be required by law particularly in areas of licensing for administering medicine and medical procedures. You also need to schedule activities, trips, arts, crafts and other disguised therapy, nutritional meals prepared on site or by a qualified outside source.
Learn more about Starting an Adult Daycare Business.
Senior Citizens Internet Center
One possibility is through the Internet. The number of senior citizens with Internet access can also be expected to grow rapidly. The baby boomers, particularly the retired ones, have lots of time on their hands. They also have a strong need to communicate with their families, who oftentimes live far from them.
Many of them, however, especially those who are not computer literate ( a vast majority), feel overwhelmed by the seemingly complex online world. As their mobility becomes more restricted, the convenience offered by online shopping will be a great attraction to the world of e-commerce. In fact, a study conducted by SeniorNet.org entitled “The Reality of Internet Use by Individuals Age 50 and Over” showed that respondents 50 years and above in the United States spent 16.2 hours on average on the Internet, and 75 percent of the respondents have shopped online.
Using the premise that the older generation is not averse to new technology but rather is just unfamiliar with it, you can create a site targeting the baby boomer generation. This site can take the form of a Senior Citizens Internet Center, where you provide basic Internet information and terminology an extensive set of links, troubleshooting lists, consultation through chat programs, virtual store for special devices and items for senior citizens.
You can develop a content-rich site focusing on concerns such as health, fraud and scam information, investing information, among others. Start-up costs of this kind of venture may be from $5,000 to $25,000 (depending on the cost of creating the website), but you can generate revenues from advertising and sale of goods. The tie-up with merchandisers focusing on this demographic group and get a commission from every sale of goods – from flowers, long-distance calls, medical products, computer software, and much more.
Fitness Organization Promoting Healthy Aging
Health clubs, fitness organizations and even the Senior Olympics are presently seeing a surge in numbers of members over 50 years old. The whole concept of aging is changing: seniors are now actively taking part in sports and fitness activities to keep them physically fit – and mentally younger. Definitely, seniors now refuse to be curtailed. Even the AARP website offers a guide to adventure vacations from sea kayaking in Belize to white water rafting in Upper Yangtze, and climbing in Ecuador.
There are several ways to tap this growing number of health-conscious seniors. You can start your own Senior Fitness Club offering health and fitness program to the older adult exerciser. You can transform a big room in your house, or rent a large room to serve as the workout area of your older clients. If you are presently operating a health club, you can add a fitness program geared specifically for the seniors.
You can also opt to do away with the gym. Instead, you can serve as an exercise leader working with frail and disabled elderly clients in nursing homes, congregate living facilities and adult day care centers. You need to learn how to conduct the most productive and enjoyable functional and restorative fitness activities for the very old and physically restricted populations. This business entails you to provide safe and effective group fitness classes in settings requiring gentle seated, adaptive physical activity for elderly and disabled participants.
For the more adventurous seniors, you can establish a club offering tours on extreme sports. Experts even say that the focus on strenuous sports will increase as baby boomers near retirement, as more and more seniors are replacing their golf clubs for sports such as surfing, heli-skiing, and triathlons. Your target market for this kind of business includes high-income individuals such as managers, executives and owners of companies who are also highly athletic.
To learn more about older adult fitness, check out the American Senior Fitness Association at http://www.seniorfitness.org
Other Business Ideas
There are several other possible businesses geared towards the older population that you can start. Here are some additional business ideas:
- Elderly employment service to help those who still want to work at least on a part-time basis
- Geriatric care management for those with professional degrees such as nursing, social work, gerontology, psychology and social work
- Counselor to older persons and their families about issues of care giving, employment, death and dying, or mental health
- Elder relocation service to help seniors move as they downsize their now-too large home for a smaller place.
- Financial advisor to older clients about estate planning and investments, financing long-term care, or housing options.
- Adult advocacy center developing programs such as health promotion, senior theater groups, or intergenerational activities for older persons in senior centers, community agencies, or retirement communities
- Chauffeur for the elderly to help them get around town
- Elder companion to help seniors living on their own with housekeeping, cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying, grooming, or simply for conversation.
- Magazine or newsletter publication for the mature population · Designing products to meet the special interests and needs of older persons; and
- Adviser to business, industry, and labor regarding older workers and consumers.
Recommended Books on Business Ideas Targeting Seniors:
- Start Your Own Senior Services Business: Adult Day Care, Relocation Services, Homecare, Transportation Service, Concierge, Travel Service and More
- How to Start a Home-Based Senior Care Business: *Develop a winning business plan *Market your unique services to families *Create a fee structure … care manager (Home-Based Business Series)
- An Easy Guide On How to Establish Your First Residential Care Facility
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