While many providers are planning ahead for the amount of seniors expected to double by 2050, economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer says it’s important to note the impact seniors have on the national economy as a whole as both powerful consumer and voter.
“Seniors are like everyone else, just older,” Laffer says. “They like to make money, the like to shun things they dislike — they may have different tastes in what they buy, but they’re buying. And they are incredibly important to the economy.”
The retiree today is different than the retiree of 50 years ago, Laffer says, noting that seniors are living longer and expect communities where they can socialize, have fun and even continue working if they like.
“Most analysts go wrong when the look at seniors in context of being old, period — that nothing changes,” he says.
Laffer will speak about the role seniors play in the economy during The Greystone Event 2014 in Irving, Texas.
“Longer life means more spending, which means more money in the economy, which are all good things for the future,” says Greystone CEO John Spooner, noting that an aging America will be more economically sound for those reasons.
“We tend to look at the aging of America as seniors that are on social security, or not working,” Spooner says. “The definition of retirement will change and make a big difference as our economy shifts itself into this longevity economy, so many goods and services will be consumed by people that need support, entertainment and activities.”
The changing face of retirement means that more skilled workers will likely enter senior living communities, bringing with them big opportunities for programming within and outside of a senior community’s walls as well, Spooner says.
Following government policies regarding retirement and other senior-related issues is key to understanding both what is helping seniors flourish, and what is holding them back, Laffer says.
Companies that enforce a retirement age are selling seniors short, Laffer says, adding that federal regulations regarding social security are outdated.
“You must adjust the country to older people, not the other way around,” Laffer says, noting that upping the age one can receive social security benefits would be an improvement to the federal program and an honest reflection of a demographic that is living longer.
Overall, when it comes to providers, “they need to understand who their clients are,” Laffer says.
Written by Cassandra Dowell