Who Can Afford Senior Living?

It is hard not to notice the civil rights movements and protests happening right now, here, in 2020. It’s a long overdue conversation, and more importantly, actual steps, that need to happen sooner rather than later to provide equality to all human beings regardless of their skin color. 

Why does this matter to a senior living marketing agency? It matters to all of us, as businesses and as human beings. In our corner of the world in senior living regarding this issue, there is a disproportionate amount of people of color who cannot afford our communities. And we need to address that issue now. 

Argentum, the U.S.’s largest senior living association, published a study revealing national trends in senior living residents with numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Regarding race, 84 percent of senior living residents were white. In the single digits, non-Hispanic/other residents were 9, black residents were 4, and Hispanic residents were at 3 percent. 

White Americans Are More Prepared For Retirement

We can’t deny the fact that white Americans are much more prepared than black or Hispanic Americans for retirement. “Prepared” is a funny word, one in which it implies that it’s on us to prepare for retirement. 

Part of that is true. Part of that is how our country is set up. 

According to the Brookings Institute, a white family has 10 times the amount of wealth as a black family

You read that right. 10 times. The typical net worth of a black family is $17,150. Saving for retirement on that amount would be completely impossible. 

On top of this, white families can manage recessions – what we’re currently up against here in 2020 – much, much, much more than black or Hispanic families. White families often receive inheritances, money in which black families, here in America at least, would never come close to getting due to all of the terrors of our past and much of our present, too. 

White Americans also live longer. So, they can both afford senior living, and they get to be old enough for senior living. We might just go ahead and say that white Americans are our target audience. 

But can we pave the way to make senior living inclusive to all, regardless of race and class?

Where Does That Leave Us? 

I don’t know, you guys. I don’t have any answers to these questions. But these questions must get answered, or at least discussed. By including ourselves, as a business and as an industry, in this discussion that the entire world is having right now, we are already two steps ahead.

We in senior living have to look to the future of our industry, and our industry has to be inclusive. Does that mean offering better, affordable senior housing? Does that mean featuring more diversity in our advertising? Does that mean talking about these discrepancies, as difficult as they are? 

I think it does. I think the future of senior housing demands it.

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