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Families are Having “The Talk”—and We Need to Listen

Jess Stonefield November 19, 2018

At this time of year, we see a lot of stories encouraging families to have “the talk” about aging. It’s Thanksgiving, after all. This is one of the few times of the year when three, and sometimes four generations, gather together for an extended period of time.

Consumer-facing publications and organizations know this. Each year, they work create resources that make “the talk” a positive one—complete with checklists, conversation starters and resources that make tough issues like end-of-life easier to discuss.

If we’re being honest, most of us blow past these articles because we think they don’t really apply to us in the industry. After all, we already know the big questions our customers are asking.

The thing is: we’re wrong. These articles about having the conversation on aging offer significant insights into our consumer base: what they know, what they need and what is worrying—or even scaring—them about life stage transitions. Below are just a few reasons to stop and read a few of these “conversation” articles this year.

They reflect our customer’s priorities.
These conversation articles are geared toward families who are in it – right now. They’re geared toward families who are about to make decisions—big ones—about their loved one’s lives. How does your company fit into the discussion? Do you need to shift to be a bigger part of that discussion? How do you make yourself relevant from the very first conversation? How do you become their partner in aging?

Knowing and understanding our customers is essential in any business, maybe even more so when it comes to the longevity sector. How are you meeting your customers right where they are?

They reflect our customers’ knowledge base.
Whether it’s dealing with family finances, cleaning out mom’s garage or selecting an assisted living community, these conversations reflect the things that matter to our consumers right now. And they can reveal what knowledge they currently have. Do they have the most accurate, up-to-date information? Is there information we could share to help make our customers’ lives better—not just related to our products, but related to our industry? Is there a resource we could provide—or develop—to guide them?

This is a great time of year to be proactive about making our products and services known. Reach out to these consumer-facing organizations and publications to make sure your solutions make it on to their list.

They reflect our customers’ fears.
If there is one universal theme in all of these conversation articles, it’s that the conversation is hard. Aging is hard. Accepting our parents are in need of help is hard. Our customers need us to develop the products and technology that can make this process more natural, more seamless, EASIER. What tools and approaches can offer to help take the fear out of aging?

This year, don’t just gloss over those articles. They may just be a valuable chance to better understand your customers and personalize your customer experience. Research shows your customers are not the only ones who will benefit. Nearly 50 percent of customers have bought items they didn’t expect to due to a personalized recommendation from a brand they were shopping with. Further, some 40 percent of consumers say they’ve spent more on a product because of personalized experience.

Remember: We are the next step to these “conversation” articles. We are the resources these publications are sharing. We can help our customers see “the talk” for what it really is: an opportunity to improve the quality of life for our aging and their caregivers alike.

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Jess Stonefield

Jess Stonefield is a contributing writer on aging, mental health and the greater longevity economy for publications such as Changing Aging, The Mighty and Next Avenue. She is passionate about impact investing and the greater concept of “equitable equity”—spreading wealth to all levels of our society. She is a communications expert for Senior Living Fund.

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