In June 2018, Stria News fielded our first formal reader survey to learn how professionals in the longevity market feel about our collective future. Overall, respondents have a positive view of the future of the longevity market. Sixty-two percent say they are very or extremely optimistic.
An Industry On the Precipice
It seems that this positive outlook is most frequently due to sense of changing norms and expectations—from within the field and society as a whole.
“The large number of Baby Boomers is directing attention and resources toward the needs of seniors. This has been a need for a long time, but I feel we’re reached critical mass and wider spread awareness.”
“Long-predicted demand is upon us based upon demographic shifts, which is prompting mainstream-ification of the space.”
“More and more innovators are seeing the opportunities in this space. There are so many opportunities to make a real, global impact in this market. Yes, there are extreme challenges but there are also stakeholders who are committed to addressing these challenges through innovative solutions.”
Respondents were most optimistic about the growth of partnerships and collaborations (61% very or extremely optimistic) and our ability to leverage technology (53% very or extremely optimistic).
Of course, not all agree. Of the four percent of respondents who say they are not very optimistic (no one reported to be not at all optimistic), several indicated a sense that we’ve not quite reached that critical moment of change.
“It hasn’t reached the tipping point yet – lots of talk but not much progress in a major way.”
“There is still so much done with younger generation, so something has to give.”
Ageism Pervades Society And Influences Our View of Our Field
The issue of ageism peppered survey results—for the positive and the negative.
“I still believe ageism abounds although we seem to be making some strides.”
“I am hopeful because I am seeing signs that our society is beginning to view aging as a vital, productive, and valuable stage of life, vs looking at aging as a disease.”
“Any extreme or ‘very’ optimistic view must be chastened by rampant ageism that continues to permeate advertising, entertainment, the public mindset (worldwide), and which is sadly reflected in internalized ageism we encounter—and often fail to observe—every day.”
Skepticism about changing perspectives on aging far outweighed a more positive point-of-view. In fact, respondents reported the least optimism around public awareness of the impact of an aging society (46% just somewhat optimistic; 39% not very or not at all optimistic).
Concerns About Caregiving and LTSS
Other concerns were focused on the crisis of caregiving and long-term care. Optimism about the future of our field seems somewhat marred by these two critical issues, which were prominent among the topics raised in the survey.
“More and better solutions needed for the eldercare crisis affecting family caregivers who provide 80% of all senior care.”
“I am highly concerned about the lack of a federal LTSS program, along with a dearth of people to take care of our older adults.”
“We are in a caregiving crisis and it is almost unmanageable. 60% of the population is over 50 and not enough people or place to care for them properly.”
“So much fraud, incompetence, malfeasance, turmoil, unprofessionalism and upheaval—especially in the long term care business sector…”
The Leadership of the Future
When it comes to the future of leadership in the longevity market, survey participants were less negative—but those topics garnered a tepid response. Perspectives on the quality of leadership were middling, with most respondents saying they are somewhat optimistic (40%). But only a quarter of respondents were very or extremely optimistic about our ability to attract talent to the field.
This insight begs the question of how to cultivate strong leadership that’s prepared to tackle the challenges our field faces in the future, so we can leverage all the opportunity so many of us see.
Despite these worrisome issues, survey results indicate a sense of excitement among Stria readers. As more people are living longer, longevity market professionals see opportunities to build healthier and happier lives. As one respondent put it “It is only beginning!”
This survey is the precursor to our first annual “State of the Longevity Market” survey coming later this year. The 80 participants primarily represented nonprofits, associations and community organizations (32%); consultants and agencies (28%), and businesses and start-ups (22%). The remaining respondents work in government, academia, media and foundations. Be sure to sign up for our free weekly email to participate future surveys and see all of Stria’s latest headlines.