How the ‘Uber Economy’ Shakes Up Senior Living

There seems to be an app for everything these days.

Whether it’s ordering a meal, arranging a ride or scheduling a personal training session, consumers have access to a wide variety of on-demand platforms that provide access to goods and services with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, which they can enjoy from the comfort of their own homes. It might appear that such on-demand services threaten the traditional senior living model, as people of all ages use these apps from the comfort of their own homes—including seniors. But the “Uber economy” is here to stay, and the industry stands to benefit.

That’s the premise of Senior Housing News’ latest report, “How the On-Demand Economy Can Reshape Senior Living.”

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“We see these services becoming more important to all of us, so I see no reason why they would not and should not play a larger role in senior living,” says Chris Guay, president and CEO at Nashville, Tennessee-based Vitality Senior Living, a senior living developer and operator launched in March 2016.

The advantages of senior living providers developing an on-demand plan are numerous. For one, they can seize the opportunity to strip down services and, in turn, lower rents, which can serve as a potential solution for the middle market seniors housing crisis. On-demand apps like Uber and Instacart also allow operators to reconsider and extend their offerings, as well as draw in a new, trendy kind of senior living resident.

Perhaps the greatest challenge that providers considering an on-demand plan face, though, is getting residents on board to use the apps and platforms. Older adults have far less exposure to shared and on-demand services, yet the senior population is the fastest growing penetration market for technology, according the Pew Research Center. This means the Lyfts and Grubhubs of the world will have more of a place in senior living settings moving forward.

Some strategies to facilitate resident tech adoption might include:

  • Hosting demonstrations on how to use specific on-demand services
  • Buying devices for residents with certain on-demand platforms already downloaded
  • Keeping residents’ family members involved so they can assist their loved ones
In any case, older adults are only going to become more tech-savvy in the next few years, and access to on-demand services will become an expectation. As such, it’s crucial that senior living providers form partnerships with on-demand companies, consider how services can interact and think creatively as to how to deploy them.
 
It’s highly unlikely that the on-demand economy will render the senior care space obsolete. Rather, it can work in the industry’s favor to enhance what senior living providers can do for their residents.
 
“Our residents are always interested in what’s new and upcoming,” says Kyle Exline, executive director at The Clare, a high-rise continuing care retirement community (CCRC) located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. “But I don’t see any of these on-demand services as better than what we’re offering on site.”
 
Editors Note: The full report, “How the On-Demand Economy Can Reshape Senior Living,” is available here.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt

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