Capturing Your Share of the World’s Growing Market
March 2011 Franchising World
Many countries are developing innovative solutions to address the growth of senior populations.
BY YOSHINO NAKAJIMA
Due to a unique combination of factors such as birthrates—especially those typical of the mid-20th century—and improvements in areas such as health care, nutrition and fitness, the globe is experiencing an unprecedented senior boom that will only gain momentum in the future.
Not surprisingly, the resulting need for senior care and services is placing enormous and ever-increasing stress on families, medical communities and governments. In fact, international policy-focused organizations such as the World Economic Forum are taking notice of this situation.
At Home Instead Senior Care, we are seeing several global aging-related trends in demographics, economics and policy, and entrepreneurship—that may have implications for your company as well.
Aging Populations: Some Basic Characteristics
The older a person gets, the more likely he or she is to suffer from chronic health problems such as impaired mobility, heart disease or the after effects of stroke, to name a few. Therefore, the more seniors there are in the world, the more who will be dealing with chronic illnesses—frequently, multiple chronic illnesses—will need support.
The vastly increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the world’s senior population will dramatically affect countries and their inhabitants. Research indicates that among those aged 85 and above, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s is about 50 percent.
Obviously, this is a potentially devastating global situation.
Where to Serve the World’s Seniors
Studies show that typically, about 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible. If your brand offers a product or service that can help seniors stay in their homes and delay or prevent them from going to a congregate-living facility, then there may be significant opportunity for your company to expand worldwide.
Aging: An International Policy-Level Issue
Another interesting trend is that governments around the world are treating aging as a policy-level issue that merits the same type of consideration traditionally given to issues such as national security, economic development and energy production.
The question that these governments are asking themselves is a simple one, but with no simple answers: How can we take care of all these seniors?
This is an especially difficult problem given the world’s ongoing financial difficulties, and it’s exacerbated by the fact that globally, we have fewer young people paying into national pension programs intended to cover their countries’ aging populations.
Fortunately, many countries are developing innovative solutions—often via public-private partnerships—to address the growth of their senior populations.
For example, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland and France have reduced their value-added tax for in-home non-medical care services, while in the United Kingdom, seniors can hire caregivers and pay for them with designated government funds. And in Germany, young people now may choose to care for older adults as an alternative to serving in the country’s military.
Entrepreneurship and the Global Economy
Finally, because of shutdowns and layoffs throughout the international private and public sectors, we’re finding that more people are looking to become senior-care entrepreneurs. Perhaps additional such individuals—those who once were employed by others, but who now hope to work for themselves—are available to your company as prospective franchisees.
In short, our goal at Home Instead Senior Care is to help seniors and their families everywhere view aging from the perspective of hope and optimism. Based on current global trends, we think that this same opportunity exists for others who serve older adults.
Yoshino Nakajima serves as the chief development officer for Home Instead Senior Care, which provides in home non-medical care for seniors through over 900 offices worldwide. She can be reached at 402-575-5952 or firstname.lastname@example.org.