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

Betty

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.

DO THESE INDIVIDUALS LOOK LIKE THEY ARE READY FOR A REST HOME?

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 http://wp.me/pCemc-bn for a further discussion of the Bobby-sox Generation

[2] See:  http://demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

[3] Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2012:   http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2012/0619/Racial-gap-in-life-expectancy-reaches-new-low-in-US

[4] e.g. ABC World News, June 16, 2011:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/life-expectancy-men-outpacing-women-study/story?id=13850055#.UCGh26DN6So

[5] USA Today, 4/20/12:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2012-04-19/Life-expectancy-improves-slower-for-women/54419298/1

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