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NIC Conference Sparks National Conversation on Future of Aging

Seniors Housing & Care Insiders, Disruptors Examine Shifting Views of the Aging Experience

Contact: Biba Aidoo, (410) 267-0504 or

Annapolis, Md. – If the baby boomers have spent the last decades revolutionizing America, what’s to stop them from revolutionizing how we age?

That was the central discussion of NIC Talks, a series of 12-minute talks on the future of aging that debuted at the 25th NIC National Conference from September 30 to October 2 in National Harbor, Md. Well-known leaders of the seniors housing and care sector and forward-thinking experts from outside the industry were asked to answer the question, “What do you envision happening over the next 10 years that will revolutionize the aging experience of the first boomer turning 80 in 2026?”

NIC Talks was designed to start a national conversation on the future of aging. The past 25 years have brought a multitude of changes and diversity of products. But “hold on,” warned NIC CEO Robert Kramer, “because what you see today will be boring uniformity compared to what we’ll see in the future.”

The NIC Talks speakers gave conference attendees a peek into their visions of the future, how aging and retirement will change, and what our response—the nation’s and the seniors housing and care industry’s—should be.

“I want to write my own story,” said Brenda Bacon, CEO of Brandywine Senior Living, as she opened the NIC Talks series with her own perspective as a baby boomer. Bacon shared her vision of the future of aging, noting that her generation doesn’t want to be told what to do or where to live. And even though baby boomers might have doubts about how they will live when they can no longer help themselves, she emphasized that she and her fellow baby boomers still want to be in control.

Another NIC Talks speaker, Thomas J. DeRosa, CEO of Welltower Inc., advocated bringing design principles that have worked for companies like frog Design, Google, and Tesla to aging. He said the acute care hospital should no longer be thought of as the center of healthcare delivery. “We need to move healthcare delivery from a reactive, crisis-driven system to a proactive, wellness-focused system.”

Dr. Bill Thomas, author and founder of the Green House movement, outlined a future for seniors focused on social capital and the importance of human connections, challenging conference attendees to see that social capital and financial capital have much in common. He concluded by saying, “The future is not real estate, but ‘feel’ estate.”

Debra Cafaro, CEO at Ventas, discussed the coming tension between Baby Boomers and their Millennial children. Will there be enough resources available to pay for the care and retirement of baby boomers? Cafaro offered a number of steps to be considered, including raising the contribution limits for Social Security, providing further means testing to sustain Medicare long term, and making better decisions about how we provide care at the end of life.

“The war on ageism needs leadership,” said Lynne Katzmann, president and CEO of Juniper Communities, during her NIC Talks. Operators, she said, can start in their own buildings by valuing older workers and including ageism in diversity training. It could be good for business too. “Imagine how much easier it would be to fill buildings and keep them full if society believed seniors should thrive and not just survive,” she said.

Other NIC Talks speakers were:

  • Chris Edell, CEO of Elevar, who posed the question of how to bring together insurance companies and innovative new technologies. Google, for example, recently invested in a digital health startup. He spoke of a future when elders have a smart phone with a dashboard to help manage tasks, such as transportation, and how to follow doctor’s instructions.
  • Ryan Frederick, founder and CEO, Smart Living 360, who envisioned a new model of a retirement community for baby boomers that would allow “you to live life on your on your own terms.” He proposed a home with universal design features, on-demand services (think Uber for elders), and doctors on call through tablet devices. “We need new options that are affordable, attractive, and take advantage of all the innovations in our broader society,” he said.
  • Jacquelyn Kung, founder/consultant for Altruya, who proposed that it will not be unrealistic to think business will be employing 100-year-olds by 2025. Employing older workers will be essential to addressing the massive shortage of workers to residents in the future. To do it, Kung said, we need to make it physically possible, give it impact and purpose, and get creative by using tactics such as splitting work.
  • Lindsey Conner Mosby, executive strategy director and healthcare practice lead for frog Design, Inc., who told a room full of seniors housing facility operators that “nobody is going to want to live with you anymore.” Mosby said baby boomers will create DIY solutions that provide the independence and decision-making they want.
  • Loren Shook, president and CEO of Silverado, who said that “Home is where you find peace…but when memory impairment disease strikes, home changes.” His presentation centered on memory care in the U.S. and new ways the industry is revolutionizing care with people living with these illnesses.
  • Mike Townsend, founder and chief operations officer for HomeHero, who asked the audience if care resources can be “Uberized” to support the types of needs caregivers have. Townsend explored the challenges and emotional toll faced today by caregivers and the families of those in need of care. He said we can use technology to help solve these problems and attract more caregivers to the field.
  • Arnold Whitman, chairman of Formation Capital, LLC, who said that technology is one of the greatest opportunities for the seniors housing and care industry. He proposed taking a crowdsourcing or crowdfunding approach to create a web-based community that engages the industry’s stakeholders “in such a way where we can create value both socially and economically.”

All 12 NIC Talks are available for viewing here.

About NIC

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to advance the quality and availability of seniors housing and care options for America’s elders. NIC provides research, education, and increased transparency that facilitate leadership development, quality outcomes, and informed investment decisions with respect to seniors housing and care. Since 1991, NIC has been the leading source of research, data and analytics for owners, operators, developers, capital providers, researchers, academics, public policy analysts and others interested in meeting the housing and care needs of America’s seniors. For more information, call (410) 267-0504.

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