The “GRADUATE” turns 75!

It’s the late 1960’s.  The war in Vietnam is escalating and college campuses are erupting in violence across the country.  Then comes the quintessential coming-of-age film with a young, drifting college graduate fulfilling an adolescent fantasy by being seduced by an older woman.  This film was the springboard for stardom for Dustin Hoffman and “Mrs. Robinson” became a chart-topper and Grammy Award winner for Simon & Garfunkel.

On August 8, Dustin Hoffman will reach 75 years of age and enter into the target demographic for senior living facilities.  He is part of the “Bobby-sox Generation”[1] that will drive occupancy for the next decade.  Other notable bobby-soxers turning 75 this year include:

Bill Cosby                                               

                                                                            Warren Beatty

General Colin Powell (ret)

Former Sec. of State

George Takei                        Billy Dee Williams

Mister Sulu”                           “Lando Calrissian

Jack Nicholson 

Roberta Flack


Elinor Donahue

Burt Reynolds      

Morgan Freeman

Richard Petty  “The King

At the time “The Graduate” was filmed, a U.S. male could expect to live to an average age of 67 years (74 years for a woman)[2].  That meant that the average man – who, in 1967, would have generally been expected to become the principal family breadwinner – would retire at age 65 and have a few years of retirement before dying.  His widow would then live another 7 to 10 years and likely need some form of health care support in her waning years.

These are the demographics and statistics that have driven the development of the senior living industry for the past 40 years and led to the adoption of the “rest home” mentality throughout much of the industry.  A quiet, secluded location was considered appropriate for the aged to live out their remaining years.  As providers, our focus was on giving high quality medical care and supportive services to make the resident comfortable in their final years.


The reality is that the world has changed radically as a result of medical advances since 1967.  Our sampling of bobby-soxers have already beaten the odds by exceeding their projected life expectancy.  They are still vibrant and active with life expectancy now increased for white men to over 76 years and 81 years for women.[3]  Beyond the extended life projections, the Christian Science Monitor and other articles[4] note several significant changes in the make-up of the aging population.  The gap between male and female mortality has narrowed to just 4 years[5]        as women are now smoking more with higher incidences of obesity and uncontrolled high blood pressure.  In addition, the life expectancy for blacks (African-Americans) has made great strides towards the white statistics.

These analyses suggest that the successful senior living facility of the future must appeal to a much broader demographic than just the traditional 80+, widowed, white female.   Fundamental changes in everything from location and building design to lifestyles management will be necessary to offer a product and services that will appeal to the Bobby-sox generation.

[1] Born 1935 – 1945.  See for a further discussion of the Bobby-sox Generation

[2] See:

[3] Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2012:

[4] e.g. ABC World News, June 16, 2011:

[5] USA Today, 4/20/12:


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The focus of your call to action, “Fundamental changes in everything from location and building design to lifestyle management will be necessary…” is strongly supported by your post and many data points in society and other business markets. I spent several hours in a Northern California nursing home today that not only missed the mark for the residents but was almost inflammatory to the visiting family members. Not only will the the next generation of residents revolt but their caring family members will also push for drastic change. Keep broadcasting your message Art, smart industry leaders need to listen to your words and seek your strategic council.


  2. Nice article…and what a compelling generation!! We see this need for “fundamental change” in our work on CCRC fitness and wellness programs…the demand for more than group exercise and an occasional personal trainer is already here. If that’s still what communities are offering residents to “stay healthy”, they’re behind the times.


  3. Art,
    Excellent article! Mentally, this forward thinking generation is still alive and vibrant! Your message is perfect, hopefully it will be received with open enthusiasm.


  4. Art,
    Thank you for sharing. The opportunity to look at the world of senior living today and the future is critical to the quality of life providers will be capable of providing. I believe the most appropriate design of care and livng options are still yet to be created and developed.


    • Former Stanford Professor Jim Collins in his book “Great by Choice” states that a common trait of enduring successful companies is the ability to ZOOM OUT and see the BIG PICTURE – especially as it relates to the risk of changing conditions. These super companies then ZOOM IN with “Specific, Methodical and Consistent” plans and supreme execution to achieve their objectives.

      This is exceptional advice for the senior living industry today.


  5. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!


  6. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am quite certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: