Sarah Thomas new lifestyle membership model

A New Lifestyle Membership Model Development by Sarah Thomas

Early in 2019, before the pandemic, Sarah Thomas led the development of a unique wellness membership offering with partners Transforming Age and Seismic. Thomas, CEO of Delight by Design and a Fellow with Nexus Insights, is an accomplished leader of innovation, with over 20 years dedicated to transforming the aging experience. Seismic designs and produces Seismic Powered Clothing, an innovative fusion of apparel and robotics, designed to reduce muscle strain and fatigue by providing the person’s core with extra power and stability.

In Jan 2019, after taking the stage at CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the world, Thomas announced, “Well ahead in recognizing that wellness is already a dominant American lifestyle value, Transforming Age, a wellness and lifestyle network that serves older adults, is the first industry company to partner with Seismic, in an early-stage membership program designed to offer advanced access of Powered Clothing to people living across the lifestyle brand’s modern retirement communities.”

The VIP membership offered members access to community events, early-access to transformative technologies, expert trainings, and educational programming customized for each member, with a focus on wellness. The program was delivered via an upscale studio, where Thomas and her team created a premium experience-design for each guest in Transforming Age’s Seattle-based brick and mortar studio.

At the beginning of the pandemic, senior living veteran and visionary Lynne Katzmann, founder and CEO of Juniper Communities, demonstrated for the industry the importance of the membership model for committing to a lifestyle of personalized well-being. Thomas and her team at Delight by Design were brought in to do what they do best— design experiences, brands and spaces that delight the consumer at every age. Two years of productive partnership helped launch Catalyst, an exciting new “wellspan” lifestyle program, which was recently featured in McKnights Senior Living.

Other senior living providers are also forging new paths towards promoting a healthier lifestyle, building programs to meet the unique wellness needs of their current and future residents. Essex Communities, for example, is working with Thomas and the Delight by Design team to create an exciting new wellness lifestyle brand. It will be exciting to see more as they enter the market with their new wellness offering.

At Nexus Insights, our Fellows develop new ideas and models for the future of aging services. Sarah is a great example of the thought leadership these Fellows bring to re-think aging from every angle.

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Eco friendly housing for seniors

Two Challenges. One Solution. Age-Friendly and Climate-Friendly Housing.

Our growing population of older adults is facing housing challenges. Creative solutions are beginning to find a foothold. Ryan Frederick, an expert on housing and the role of place in healthy aging, looks at how those solutions could be used to simultaneously address issues of climate change in a Generations Journal article, published by the American Society on Aging.

“As a real estate developer and advisor to real estate developers, I see a valuable opportunity to rise to this challenge by developing communities that appeal to the needs and desires of older adults and incorporate design that is eco-friendly and climate change resilient,” said Frederick, CEO of SmartLiving 360 and a Nexus Insights Fellow. “As a concerned citizen, I know this challenge is urgent.”

Where people live has a big impact on their well-being, according to Frederick. “The best place elevates purpose, social connection, physical well-being, and financial well-being. Place can be designed to support our needs as we age and help insulate us from the perils of climate change.”

But he pointed to a variety of issues that make it difficult for people to age in place, including:

  • Housing that is designed for younger people without mobility issues. The statistics are striking. According to Frederick, “Only about 4% of all housing stock in the United States is suitable for people with moderate mobility difficulties.”
  • Single-use neighborhoods without convenient access to needed services and amenities. “Too much housing requires transportation to get to services and a lack of density makes it inefficient for services to come to the home.”
  • Social disconnectedness. “About half of older adults don’t know any of their neighbors,” he said.

In the article, Frederick offered actionable ideas to help communities address these issues, including:

  • Incentives for incorporating universal design principles in all new housing, which both emphasize the use of eco-friendly materials, and reduce the need for retrofitting as residents in the home age.
  • Housing developments that work for people of all ages, to help foster intergenerational connections, and reduce loneliness across all ages. Frederick pointed out the cost incentive for landlords: vacancies are reduced when older adults can remain in their housing even as their physical needs change.
  • Housing design that reflects the role of the home as a place where people increasingly receive their health care.
  • Choosing locations for housing that are less prone to disasters such as flooding and wildfires and therefore are more resilient to climate change.
  • Designing neighborhoods for walkability. Reducing the need for car travel is both age-friendly and eco-friendly.

“Ultimately, as a society and as individuals, we will be defined by our legacy,” Frederick observed. “How did we positively impact the generations following us?”

Read the full article in Generations by the American Society on Aging.

 

Ryan Frederick, MBA, is the CEO of SmartLiving 360, an Austin, Texas–based strategy consulting and real estate development firm focused on the intersection of successful aging and the built environment. He is the author of Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life. He is an Encore Public Voices Fellow, a Nexus Insights Fellow and National Advisory Board Member for Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

 

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Innovative Immigration Policies and Long Term Care

The Solution for Long-Term Care Staffing Shortages? Innovative Immigration Policies

Who will care for aging baby boomers? This was the question posed to an expert panel at an event that explored the links between immigration policy and long-term care policy. The online event was hosted by the Center on Children and Families of the Brookings Institute. It brought together leading researchers to present their findings on the role of immigration in caregiving, and to discuss the country’s caregiving needs, and policies to help address them.

Highlights of the discussion included:

  • The link between increased immigration and the increased support available for aging in place.
  • Economic benefits to family caregivers from larger labor pools supported by increased immigration.
  • Improved quality of care that results from a larger labor force and increased immigrant labor.

Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory and a Nexus Fellow, was on hand to provide her analysis of the policy landscape. She pointed to the severe economic impacts experienced by families and family caregivers that results from the lack of a national long-term care system in the United States.

Other challenges raised during the forum include the persistently low wages in the caregiving industry, enormous gaps in Medicare coverage for needed services for older adults, confusing variation by state of the types of services covered by Medicaid, and the difficulties that arise in addressing changing labor needs caused by inflexibility in employment-based channels for legal migration.

Possible solutions proposed included:

  • Addressing the inflexibility in the employment-based channels for legal immigration, to help address shortages and changing caregiving labor needs.
  • Creation of a national long-term care system to serve American families equitably and prevent financial hardships for families caring for loved ones.
  • Reallocating resources to address the persistent low wages in the caregiving industry, and to help create incentives for caregivers to remain in the field.

Read more at Brookings.
View the full discussion.

 

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Biases in product design for aging populations

Biases in Product Design for the Aging Population

This week we highlight Nexus Fellow, Sarah Thomas who is the CEO of Delight by Design. In her feature video, she shares why she is passionate about her work and expertise in aging services.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in this industry is our own inherent biases around the aging experience, and how we build products, services and spaces. It even affects how we attract our workforce, how we bring new talent into our workforce, and how we create space.”

“If I’m a senior living operator, I don’t just want functional design that’s accessible for a wheelchair or a walker, I want it to be beautiful and delightful, and to have a human-centered approach for how we experience our lifestyle at every age. I want standards to be improved across the agespan and across the lifespan. And when we approach product design, whether I’m using a new technology or I’m using a new product to make my life easier, I want it to be exciting and beautiful… We need to look at things through a different lens.”

Sarah Thomas is an accomplished leader of innovation, with nearly 20 years dedicated to transforming the aging experience. She serves as a global aging expert, advising startups, large corporations and investors. Learn more about Sarah Thomas at Nexus Insights.

 

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solo aging and urgent call to action

Solo Aging and Senior Living’s Urgent Call to Action!

For the last 12 years, Sara Zeff Geber, author of Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, and a Nexus Fellow, has been studying what she calls “solo aging.” It’s a concept that came to her when she realized that all around her, Baby Boomers were taking care of their aging parents, running errands, moving them into senior living communities, helping them with doctors appointments and insurance, and spending a great deal of time helping them navigate their lives as they aged. She began to think about herself and the many others without children, “Who is going to do that for us?”

“At least 70% of people are going to need some kind of assistance as they get older,” she explained, but solo agers won’t have adult children to help them with it. “We have a situation coming in 10 or 15 years that is going to take both the senior living industry and the government to help resolve.”

Sara Geber coined the term “Solo Ager.” She is the foremost thought leader in solo aging and is passionate about creating change in senior housing. More than anything, Sara wants to drag baby boomers out of their denial of aging and point them toward positive planning. Learn more about Sara Zeff Geber at Nexus Insights.

 

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The Challenge of Senior Communities

The Challenge of Senior Communities Staying Affordable in a Time of Rising Prices

Nexus Fellow and CEO of Christian Living Communities, Jill Vitale-Aussem, discussed the challenges senior communities are having in remaining affordable amidst rising costs and staffing shortages on the Senior Housing News’ Transform Podcast with Tim Regan.

Inflation in everything from food to utility costs, combined with continued wage escalation can drive increases in monthly service fees and rent. Vitale-Aussem is concerned that this will lead to shrinking the already limited population of older adults who can afford senior living. Her organization is focused on evaluating opportunities for greater efficiencies, especially in the areas of construction, amenities and staffing.

Staffing continues to be a challenge for her communities, but she’s seeing bright spots. “One of our communities that was having staffing challenges is now fully staffed,” she said. “We now celebrate that the way we used to celebrate 100% occupancy rates.” She said they’ve achieved success by getting more creative in recruiting and casting a wider net. She offered several suggestions, including the importance of explaining the story of why working in senior living is so rewarding. “It’s a pretty amazing work opportunity for people, but they don’t know.”

Watch the full video at Senior Housing News.

 

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Bringing together different perspectives with a common passon

Bringing Together Different Perspectives with a Common Passion

Nexus Insights is a think tank comprised of a diverse group of thought leaders and stakeholders in aging and health care (Nexus Fellows) with a shared vision to advance the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing, community and health care. The goal of Nexus Insights is to affect change by sharing innovation across traditional silos, convening leaders from different perspectives in our Nexus Voices salons, and bringing positive, life-affirming ideas into the public domain.

What makes Nexus Insights truly unique is the diversity of our Fellows. We bring together different perspectives and different backgrounds, leaders with expertise in academic research, government policy, private sector startups, and successful businesses serving older adults. It’s the diversity of perspectives, together with the common passion, that drive the disruptive thinking within Nexus.

Bob Kramer is broadly recognized as one of senior living’s most influential and high-profile thought leaders and connectors. With over 35 years of industry leadership, he has earned the reputation of “agent provocateur” in the seniors housing and care industry and aging services field. He has been described as an ice-cutter and scout in identifying industries and trends that will disrupt the future of seniors housing, aging services, and aging more broadly. Learn more about Bob Kramer at Nexus Insights.

 

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Senior Living and Hospitality Industry

Senior Living – a Huge Opportunity for the Hospitality Industry

There is a newly emerging market for new models of lifestyle-driven senior living, and it’s a “mammoth market that nobody owns,” according to Bob Kramer, Founder of Nexus Insights, and Co-founder, Strategic Advisor of NIC – the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

With over 35 years of experience in the seniors housing and care industry, Kramer has long been recognized as one of the most influential and high-profile thought leaders in the field. In a recent article in the Boston Hospitality Review, he shared his thoughts on the changing market and the opportunities for the hospitality industry.

The market for senior living is growing rapidly, but the demand is for something different than traditional care-driven products. Kramer observed that baby boomers are the first generation to make housing and care decisions for their parents, due to lengthening lifespans. “And they didn’t like what they saw.” Rather than traditional assisted living solutions and nursing homes, boomers are looking for living situations that “appeal to their desire to remain engaged and fulfilled in their lives.”

“From 2020 to 2050, new models will be driven by a new type of customer, and a new way of thinking about retirement and aging,” Kramer said. “This generation of senior living products will attract younger seniors with products that deliver engagement, connection, and fulfillment, and will draw residents who still have decades to live. The business potential of such a market is significant.” Heavyweights as well as new entrants in the hospitality field, such as Disney and Latitudes Margaritaville, are already recognizing the business potential, and introducing novel housing developments aimed at seniors.

The opportunities are not without challenges, and Kramer identified several, including affordability for the growing middle-income market, sometimes called “the forgotten middle.” In order to be successful in this new market, it will also be important to address both lifestyle and care needs for senior residents. Kramer’s recommendation is “to leverage industry expertise to deliver what seniors want in terms of lifestyle choices, and what they need in terms of care.”

According to Kramer, the challenge for those entering the market, ”is to deliver personalized experiences that are metaphors for being alive rather than signals that meaningful life is over. The demand will be huge, but this product is yet to be delivered.”Read the full piece in the Boston Hospitality Review.

 

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Aging in Place to Aging in Community

From Aging in Place to Aging in Community: A 2020 Virtual Talk by Dr. Sara Zeff Geber

Aging in place can be a recipe for isolation and loneliness, according to solo aging expert and Nexus Fellow, Sara Zeff Geber, PhD. In a 2020 virtual presentation, she explains the risks, which include cognitive decline, depression, high blood pressure and more. The result? A decreased quality of life.

According to Geber, there are three types of loneliness:

  • Intimate/Emotional: Longing for a close confidante or intimate partner;
  • Relational/Social: Yearning for quality friendships and social companionship;
  • Collective: Hunger for a network or community of people who share a sense of purpose and interests.

In her presentation, Geber also explains:

  • What makes us happy in later life;
  • The importance of relationships and where they come from;
  • Opportunities to build community;
  • How building community can lead you to the right place to age.

Watch the full presentation:

The event was co-sponsored by Newton Free Library, 2Life Communities, Temple Shalom, and Newton Department of Senior Services.

 

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The Green House Project and Pioneer Network Partner to Improve the Lives of Older Adults

A new partnership between the Green House Project, a not-for-profit dedicated to creating alternative living environments for seniors, and Pioneer Network, a not-for-profit advocating person-directed care, is being cultivated to improve the lives of residents in nursing home communities. According to Skilled Nursing News, “the joint entity will serve as a full-continuum consulting, advisory, and education partner for eldercare organizations.”

Industry visionary, Geriatrician and Nexus Fellow, Dr. Bill Thomas, has a long history of improving the quality of life and purpose for older adults. In the 1990s, he co-founded the Eden Alternative, the Pioneer Network and in 2003 he founded the Green House Project.

“For years, the Green House Project and Pioneer have collaborated on a variety of eldercare reform initiatives, driven by our shared history and mission to improve the lives of nursing home residents today and in the future,” said Pioneer Network President & CEO, Penny Cook. “Together, we will go farther than we could as parallel travelers on the same path.”

Read more at Skilled Nursing News.

 

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