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Failure to prepare for the older-adult market has left "huge gaps"-and created many opportunities, says ICAA CEO Colin Milner
VANCOUVER--How is society unprepared for older adults? "Let me count the ways," Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) said today in his keynote address at the 10th annual International Council on Active Aging Conference here.
"One, older adults themselves are ill-prepared for retirement, as many recent surveys have shown. Two, the workforce is not prepared for those who are staying longer, or who are leaving, whether because of mandatory retirement, ill health, or to start new businesses or careers. Three, the healthcare system lacks the level of staffing and expertise to easily accommodate large numbers of older adults-particularly those seeking preventive services rather than treatments. Four, the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization have noted that most cities around the world aren't conducive to older adults' remaining active, vital members of society."
On the positive side, because so many sectors are late in recognizing the needs, desires and value of the Boomer market, "there are now untold opportunities for existing and new companies to serve this burgeoning demographic," Milner said.
Milner identified three main areas of opportunity for consultants and businesses that "get it."
Self-monitoring technologies: "We don't have enough health professionals or caregivers based on current projections. Thus, there's an opportunity for smart technologies to fill the gap, helping people to self-manage chronic conditions-for example, diabetes with glucose monitoring, and hypertension with blood pressure monitoring," Milner said. "People want aids such as these that are easy to use and unobtrusive."
Wellness/lifestyle specialists: Since most health insurers, including the US government, do not support a wide array of preventive services, "there are opportunities for individuals to provide not just personal training, but also wellness and prevention training, and to act as life coaches or advisors in other areas, as well," Milner says. "People are paying to ensure they age well in all aspects of their lives-health, nutrition, fitness, finances, travel and other quality-of-life pursuits."
Lifespan and lifestyle products: Marketers who 'get it' are targeting interests, not age," Milner says. "That means older adults are showing up in ads--albeit nowhere near the level of younger adults--among the people who enjoy running shoes, cars, motorcycles, and so forth. This is in contrast to 'graywashing'-jumping into the market place and trying to reposition existing products as though they're for older adults, when they aren't. Or pushing so-called 'anti-aging' products, which are useless."
"At end of day," Milner emphasizes, "there is no monolithic over-50 market. There are people who buy like everyone else does, only they have more life experience and many of them know what they want. The trillions of dollars that they control will go to the businesses that understand and value them."
About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
ICAA, the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging-an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness-and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada's Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia ministries of Health, and Healthy Living and Sport. On October 1, 2011-the International Day of Older Persons-ICAA celebrated its 10th Anniversary and a decade of Changing the Way We Age®.
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