Engaging America’s Mature Generation While Improving Quality of Life Through Technology

Austin SXSW

At SXSW this year, there was a lot of talk around how to better humanity and improve the quality of life for all people and populations. Two of the populations often now overlooked in this Millennial/GenZ-centric society are the Boomers and the Silent generation. These generations are redefining what it means to age, setting the precedent for years to come.

As an industry we need to take a closer look at what aging really means. “People can live years more than they could a couple generations ago, yet most of our laws and cultures still treat ‘old’ as 65. Today, that’s just middle aged,” remarked a panelist during the “Bracing for a new age of longevity” session.

The Mature generations seek opportunities to improve, explore and learn—and new scientific discoveries in the aging process are beginning to predict that this will not change. That the desire for exploration those in their 30s have will be that which people have in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond in the future.

Meanwhile, in another session about how your zipcode impacts aging, social infrastructure was identified as one of the top 10 indicators for life expectancy of a community. The presence of programs designed to enhance social vitality and exploration, can positively impact aging and quality of life almost as much as the food and nutrition, infrastructure, or even the public safety of a city.

The same session called for both marketers and care professionals to not just recognize food deserts — places with little access to food suppliers — as an issue that impacts aging—but other ‘deserts’ or areas with scare resources like social deserts as a threat to the populations we care about.

How can we reframe our thinking and use technology to bring socialization opportunities where there are little? First, recognize that todays “matures” are, in fact, social and digitally empowered. Pew research center’s most recent data reports that over 42% of the population 65+ has a smartphone, while 80% have a cellphone, and at least 35% are on social media (with the numbers skewing even higher for those closer to 65).

This provides opportunity for exploring digital technologies to connect with Matures (or people over 65 years in age) in ways that encourage exploration, activity, and growth—think how-to and educational videos or articles, forums and Facebook groups. Whatever the content is, as the presenters at SXSW pointed out, we need to build vitality into the content strategy. Invite the matures to learn and discuss something new while building social connections among them.

Further use of informed targeting (through using Facebook audience insights for instance) can help your organization target the needs of a community or population—addressing the fears of one population with engaging the outdoor lifestyle of another community. Overtime you’ll improve quality of life for not just the target audience, but the entire community as a whole.

For further information on how to engage the mature audience, read our case study on SilverSneakers, a product of Tivity Health or visit the SilverSneakers Facebook page.