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The Zoomer effect

March 16, 2017 Article 3 min read
Joanne Stiger Plante Moran Living Forward
Zoomers are redefining aging in surprising ways, challenging senior living providers to adapt. Read our article for seven ways providers can become Zoomer-relatable.

The morning begins as she blends organic kale, bananas, coconut milk, and peanut butter from the local produce market to make a protein smoothie. She heads off to the gym to jump on the elliptical, take a spin class, or complete a circuit workout. Home after the gym, she turns on her computer, iPhone, or tablet to browse the web, shop for e-books, or search for local discounts through Groupon.

Do you know who she is? If you guessed she’s a mid-twenty-something Millennial, you would be wrong. She is a Baby Boomer, or more accurately, she is a Zoomer — a Boomer with zip!

As consultants in the senior living industry, our team has seen the shift in focus to build senior living communities for the up-and-coming Baby Boomer generation. However, providers need to keep in mind that this is a generation of Zoomers too.

What’s a Zoomer?

I came across the term “Zoomer” long ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Coined by Dr. David J. Demko, a clinical gerontologist and author, Zoomers are a large group of Boomers who are “breaking new ground, redefining aging, and reinventing retirement.”

Today’s Zoomers are savvy. With the aid of technology, they have very connected lives. They are used to having resources and information at their fingertips to help them make informed decisions. They care about value, so they appreciate options and choices.

In this way, Zoomers are characterized by their lifestyle. Zoomers are:

  • Invested in creating a meaningful life for themselves
  • Educated and mentally active
  • Tech savvy
  • Social
  • Physically active
  • Health-conscious

In a lot of ways, the senior living industry is entering into a transformative period as the Zoomer lifestyle influences projected need. Senior living providers are learning to cater to these traits, but many are still unsure how to adapt their facilities and operations to meet Zoomer expectations.

Zoomers shifting statistics

Surprisingly, Zoomers may also be influencing some statistics.

About 44 million adults in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, a number that’s sure to rise with the tide of older adults. However, the Zoomer lifestyle may be moderating the need for memory care, as recent research shows the age-specific risk of dementia may be declining.

Although more investigation is needed, researchers believe the decrease in risk is possibly due to two factors that correspond with the Zoomer lifestyle: more education and a focus on health and wellness. This research supports the idea that Zoomers are redefining aging in surprising ways.

A big change

Providers who want to win in the senior living industry will have to constantly create new and different ways to meet Zoomers’ expectations in both their physical facilities and operations.

Some regions of the United States are catching on quicker than others to the idea of Zoomers — I’ve noticed the East Coast already identifies the Zoomers in their target customer base. Even Jimmy Buffett is getting into the market with his Latitude Margaritaville, a string of communities marketed to active and social “Parrot Heads,” not seniors.

As you plan your future capital needs, consider incorporating these Zoomer-friendly options:

  • Have a flexible design that draws people in now and is also sustainable for the future.
  • Build for everyone in the generation — not just a small group stereotyped “old folks” — and keep an eye toward the next generation.
  • Provide group areas for collaboration and socialization. You’re going to have educated, active Zoomers with zip — tap into that!
  • Plan for additional storage for bikes and other equipment for your Zoomers’ many hobbies.
  • Exceed your Zoomers’ technology expectations. Beyond WiFi, Zoomers want to see conveniences such as telehealth, wellness tracking, monitors like Healthsense, on-demand services, and more.
  • Offer more dining choices. Consider farm-to-table options, exhibition kitchens, and partnerships with neighboring restaurants for meal credits. Flexibility is key.
  • Try a variety of meaningful activities that include volunteering to promote integration with the surrounding community.

Senior living providers, challenge yourselves to be Zoomer-relatable!

Are you considering renovating or building new to attract Zoomers? Our team brings decades of experience overseeing the design and construction of senior living projects. Contact us today for a no-cost initial consultation.

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