People Archives – Varsity Branding

Category: People

In celebration of All-American Pet Photo Day, we’d like to introduce you to our office dogs, Mia and Parker. (They haven’t been in the office lately due to COVID-19, so they’re anxious to get back to work.)

Tell us a little bit about your pets.

Emily Runyon, account supervisor and Mia’s owner: According to a DNA test, Mia is 25% Boston Terrier, 25% Doberman Pinscher, 12.5% Australian Cattle Dog, 12.5% Rottweiler, and 25% mixed-breed groups. She’s three years old.

James Schorn, resource manager and Parker’s owner: Parker is part beagle, part German Shepherd and a little of something else. He’s eight years old.

How did your dogs come to join your family?

Emily: I begged and begged my husband to consider adding a puppy to our family. He finally caved after quite some time, and I quickly lined up an appointment to see a litter, up for adoption through Homeward Bound, before he could change his mind.

James: I was lucky enough to find Parker wandering through Harrisburg.

How do your pooches like coming to work?

Emily: Mia doesn’t love the hour-long car ride, but as soon as we get to work, she’s excited to greet her coworkers! Her first stop is usually to Renee’s desk for her morning treat.

James: Parker enjoys spending time around people, so he enjoys coming to the office, as opposed to watching the squirrels in the backyard.

What do Mia and Parker like most about the Varsity office?

Emily: Lots of treats, Derek sharing his daily apple, scratches, and the occasional walk around the block. Mia loves her coworkers and can often be found trying to coerce them into playing a game of tug-of-war in the afternoon. Strangers are not her friend; at first, she alerts the team of anyone in the building she doesn’t know—just ask the UPS delivery person!

James: Well… he hasn’t told me, specifically, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say he’s definitely a fan of the car rides to and from the office.

Where do your dogs hang out at work?

Emily: When she’s in the office, Mia can typically be found lying on her bed by my desk. She likes to nap throughout the day and chew on her bacon-shaped bone.

James: Some days, Parker will sleep on his work bed; some days, the wood floors work just fine. No science behind it, he does what he wants.

 

At Varsity, we take every opportunity to get into the mind of the mature market, so we thought, “What could be better than using the social media phenomenon, FaceApp, on one of our own, James Schorn, resource manager at Varsity?” I decided to capture a few of James’s reactions to seeing himself aged several decades.

Q. Did seeing yourself aging change your perceptions about growing older?

A. It was refreshing to see myself aging like fine wine, as opposed to aging like milk…All kidding aside, I did feel that my spirit remained resilient, and that confirmed the many experiences I’ve had with older people ever since my first job working in the dining room of a retirement community. I think what I have always enjoyed about the mature market is seeing how happy and active this generation is. I love hearing about their life experiences. Sometimes it seems as if the world classifies our older generations as weak and fragile. Based on my experiences, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Nothing is more inspiring than a couple that has been married for 50+ years and still loves each other, day in and day out.

Q. What are your responsibilities at Varsity?

A. I’m in charge of quotes, scheduling and planning of projects. Through my career, I have overseen hundreds of projects of all different scopes. This has allowed me to use knowledge from past initiatives to ensure that our future projects run efficiently while giving our clients the best possible return.

Q. Are there any myths that still need to be debunked about aging, and the senior living industry specifically?

A. The overall perception of senior living needs to change. From my visits to communities, I have seen personally that they are built on friendship, trust and care. From residents to staff members, everyone looks out for one another. This generation is made up of strong individuals, and they should be respected for their impact on this world.

 

 

Eaton Senior Communities is home to 164 residents and, occasionally, a socially assistive robot called Ryan, now being developed at the University of Denver. In a series of posts, I’m talking to people involved in this fascinating project and getting their perspectives on how this lifelike “companionbot” could benefit seniors living with depression and dementia.

Today, Sarah Schoeder, wellness director at Eaton Senior Communities, shares some of her favorite stories about resident interactions with Ryan.

DW’s Story: Reengaging in the Community

DW struggled with depression after the loss of his wife earlier this year. We no longer saw him smile, and he had begun to isolate, no longer taking meals in our dining room or attending holiday parties. At 93, he had limited access to technology in his lifetime — and certainly not to a robot! What transpired was the old DW returning to us. He smiled and laughed again and was always on time, never missing a session. His daughter was thrilled that her dad was once again engaging in the community, and it lessened the stress she felt when she was away on business. DW will tell you that it “was fun” and that “Ryan helped take my mind off the constant thoughts of my wife. It gave my mind a new direction, you might say,” he said. He felt valued, helping the interns achieve their goals and receiving the opportunity to engage with younger adults.

LW’s Story: Overcoming Depression

LW was another unexpected success. As a younger resident with a higher level of education, I was not sure what to expect. She surprised me when she said that “Ryan understands me; she knows what I am going to say before I do.” LW struggled with depression that was intensified by her recent move to the community. Over the course of the trials, she began to report that moving here had improved her mood, and she looked forward to her sessions with Ryan. She is anxious to further participate in clinical trials and recognizes that Ryan helped her overcome the deep depression she felt earlier this year. I am happy to say that she is now an active community member, participating in many social events and helping her neighbor regain her love of art.

PN’s Story: Making a Friend

PN was thrilled when invited to participate with Ryan. He frequently commented on how beautiful her smile and facial features were. He recalls how he asked her out to dinner, but she declined, saying she was not hungry! PN commented on the variations in facial expressions and quality of speech. He was aware of these features and how it affected his relationship with her. PN looked forward to his interaction with Ryan, and the excitement that followed after his sessions was priceless!

BC’s Story: Seeing His Dream Come True

This resident had studied psychology in the 1950s and had particularly enjoyed the area of artificial intelligence. In his 90s, and highly educated, BC enjoyed seeing the “future” that, years earlier, he could only dream of. After his sessions, he would smile and talk at length about the interactions. It was great to see his mind stimulated and the smile he was well known for return when his health was failing him.

See Ryan from her inventor’s perspective in another blog.

 

 

One question that we continue to get here at Varsity surrounds the naming, values and visuals of not-for-profit aging services providers. For the last several decades, the gold standard in this space was created by faith-based senior living organizations that had strong ties to churches and other religiously affiliated groups. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the identify of faith-based communities come into question.

Some providers have doubled down on their faith connections, embracing their history and including specific language in their mission, vision and values to communicate their dedication to faith-based principles. On the other hand, other providers have been slowly stripping away the overt references to faith, concerned that they might drive away residents that don’t share those same values (even if they aren’t required to subscribe to said faith in order to reside at the community). The fear that faith-based language and iconography could be costing communities residents is very real. While, on the other side of the coin, the fear of losing donor dollars from strong, faith-based donors ensures that others stay the course and lean firmly on their core values.

This led us to wonder — What effect is faith having on provider perception, and where might this trend be going in the future?

It’s no secret that religious affiliation has been on the decline in the United States. In Pew’s religious landscape study, which surveyed more than 35,000 Americans of all demographics, found that 22.8 percent of respondents identified as unaffiliated with any religious tradition at all. If we were to view that number in light of demographics, we can learn even more. Seventeen Baby Boomers (aged 50 to 64) report that religion isn’t important in their lives, with 34 percent saying they attend religious services only sporadically, and 28 percent reporting they “seldom” attend services at all. If one were to compare the Baby Boomers to Generation X or Millennials, Boomers and seniors would appear positively pious, as religious participation takes a nosedive within these demographics. Based on Pew’s findings, it would seem that being faith-based might not carry the weight it once did when someone shopped for a community.

Yet many entrance-fee, faith-based senior living organizations provide one critical service that very few others do: security. Namely, these organizations usually have a safety net in place so that, if a resident suddenly runs out of funds, he or she won’t be forced to leave the community. This kind of support is usually funded through giving programs that utilize the faith-based network that a community is tied to as a major source of giving. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 65 percent of Americans who claim a religious affiliation give to charity, compared to just 56 percent of those who don’t identify with a faith tradition. Interestingly, the same study found that 73 percent of all charitable giving went to either congregations or religiously affiliated charities. Secular charities only accounted for 27 percent of giving.

It’s clear that, when it comes to philanthropy, being affiliated with a religious organization is likely to significantly increase the dollars that are coming through the door; however, with the upcoming generational shifts in belief and religious affiliation, we are forced to wonder if this tradition of giving will continue. Will Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials be just as inclined to give to faith-based charities, or will they rebel against them (and the bad press they have been recently receiving) and give to more secular causes? Only time will tell.

As we speak to aging services providers who are struggling with this problem, we find that there are no clear answers. What is right for a community in the upper Midwest may not be good for a community in southern California or on the Florida coast. Understanding local demography and perceptions around faith tends to provide the best insight into the direction an organization should face.

Regardless of which way providers choose to go today, there’s sure to be continued debate about whether faith affiliation is a hindrance or help in our space. We anticipate this discussion continuing for the next decade, when it will be decided by leading-edge Gen-Xers who will vote with their dollars when moving into a community.

 

Sources:

http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/attendance-at-religious-services/

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Religious-Americans-Give-More/153973

Many of us have fond memories of going to summer camp as children. Hiking through mountains, boating on a lake, shooting archery and learning crafts are all a part of the common memories that many share. But, as we age, we leave those summer days behind, letting them create a bygone era in our mind, when summers were carefree and fun — fortunately, though, that no longer needs to be the case.

Take, for instance, Camp Meraki. Marketed as a retirement camp for seniors, the program runs in the early fall at John Knox Ranch, in Wimberley, Texas. During the hot summer months, the camp runs activities for children, but as the cooler fall temperatures approach, it welcomes a different crowd of those 60+. The activities, however, are largely the same, including canoeing, archery, crafts, stargazing, sing-alongs and more! Oh, and don’t forget the one activity you won’t find at a kids camp — happy hour! The camp runs for three days and two nights, letting campers relive their childhood memories in a fun and safe environment.

Now we’re sure you’re thinking something along the lines of, “That’s all well and good, but my community isn’t in Texas, so this doesn’t really apply to me.” Au contraire! This is an opportunity for your community to do something new and intriguing.

First, you could work with your life enrichment/therapeutic recreation staff to create a camp experience right at your community. While it wouldn’t necessarily be as involved as the Camp Meraki, it could make for a unique program that sets you apart from your local competition. Make sure to include all of the important camp activities — s’more making, campfire sings and arts and crafts!

For those who want to take this one step further, how about contacting your local youth camp and consider setting up a senior camp of your own? You could invite not only your residents, but also prospective residents. It would be a great way for them to get to know your community and could easily provide three days of marketing opportunities for your sales staff. Now that’s a quality program that will differentiate you from your competition!

We love the idea of Camp Meraki here at Varsity. It shows that older adults can enjoy activities that are more commonly attributed to youth. It also helps with memory care and brain stimulation by bringing back those thoughts of childhood and reconnecting people with skills they otherwise might have lost. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.

Sources:

http://www.agingiscool.com/campmeraki

Chocolate gets eaten, flowers wither, but how do you make love last? In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked a couple in their 80s how they’ve kept their love strong through 60 years of marriage. (Guess what? Celebrating Valentine’s Day didn’t even make the list!)

Here’s what they said:

  1. One or both should tell the other how much they are loved every day. Very important!
  1. Maintain a balance of responsibilities — which is easier said than done.
  1. Cultivate independent interests and encourage each other to do so. Too much togetherness can be a mistake.
  1. Do not criticize. Nobody is perfect. Criticism is rarely useful or effective.
  1. Talk to each other, and if there is a big topic, sit down and take time for it.
  1. Plan fun together. It is easy to neglect, but many trips and social activities require pre-planning. Spontaneity can wither away with age, which is natural. (I always  watch Monday Night Football. I eat brunch at the café every Sunday. We go to Palm Springs every winter, etc.)
  1. Try not to ventilate your problems too much to your other half. That can become a habit, but listening is wearying.
  1. Last but not least, when you catch sight of a full moon, make your partner look at it, too. Same goes for rainbows. This is an easy rule, but important.

So this year, let’s learn from the experts at love and look at a little less Monday Night Football and a few more full moons.

A group of fun-loving residents at a Florida retirement community. These 30 seniors show that they’re on top of the latest viral trends by participating in the Mannequin Challenge. Click here to watch the video.

Adventures like these prove that life in a retirement community is anything but dull. At Varsity, we salute all of the seniors who never let age stop them from growing, changing and challenging themselves, whether they’re freezing in motion or dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads, like these Ohio community residents did.

According to a 2016 Pew Research study, Baby Boomers and prior generations have cast the majority of votes in every presidential election since 1980.

However, the study also found that the political landscape is shifting, because younger voters matched Boomers and seniors in eligible votes in 2012 and are now estimated to outnumber them. Even with a lower turnout, voters 18-49 could still outvote Boomers and seniors in 2016.

Now that the election is over, we see that this prediction has come true. CNN exit polls show the vote’s makeup:  55% voters 18-49 and 45% voters 50 and up. So this is the year that Boomer and senior voting power begins to decline. Still, you’d never know it by the results of this election. Since the majority of older generations voted for Trump, (53% vs. 44-45% for Clinton) their votes propelled Trump to the White House. Stay tuned for 2020!

When kids are out trick-or-treating, they might want to hit up some houses over others.

84% of people 60 years and older give out candy on Halloween — more than any other age group, according to one study.  Seniors love answering the door to superheroes and pirates. But what if they live in a retirement community? There’s a simple answer: Welcome trick-or-treaters to your campus.

You can invite residents’ grandchildren, staffers’ children and even local neighborhood kids to trick-or-treat. The experience will not only benefit residents, but candy hunters as well — they won’t have to face the risks of crossing high-traffic streets at night in their black costumes. Residents can affix pumpkin- or bat-shaped signs to their doors to signal that they welcome trick-or-treaters.

So that residents unable to participate can still join in the fun, you can throw an all-age celebration with decorations, costumes and refreshments. Halloween is also the perfect time to invite prospective residents in for hot cider and pumpkin cookies.

Happy Halloween, all!

The number of older people who live alone at home continues to climb: 13 million in 2015. And, for women over 75, the numbers are even more shocking; 45% live alone, according to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that discusses the negative impact — both on parents and their children — of aging at home. Many seniors aren’t living safely yet refuse to move or even accept basic help. Their adult children essentially become their assisted living plan, putting emotional and physical strain on that caregiver.

One reason for the resistance to move: outdated perceptions about senior living. “Many older adults don’t like the idea of someone telling them when they’ll have their first cup of coffee or turn out the lights at night,” the article states. They don’t understand that senior living communities are not like the nursing home of old where they once visited their grandparents.

It’s up to us to assist adult children and to arm them with correct information and the key benefits of today’s senior living environment to prepare them for that difficult talk with mom and/or dad. One of the most common times for opening the dialogue is coming up: the holidays, when families get together and many times see a change in their parent’s abilities. We’ll offer advice for those tough family conversations in an upcoming blog.

Elderly, frail, uneducated and with a lower income? Surprisingly, no. Those most at risk are actually younger, more educated and well off. According to a new study by the Better Business Bureau, 69 percent of scam victims are under 45, and 78 percent are college-educated.

Other surprising facts:

  • Eighty-nine percent of seniors approached by a scammer recognized the scam in time, and only 11 percent lost money.
  • Three times as many 18‒24-year-olds failed to recognize a scam, and 34 percent reported losing money.

A few reasons for this:

  • Younger people think they’re invulnerable to scams.
  • They are more likely to shop online.
  • Seniors are more scam-savvy.

Another stereotype about age debunked.

We’re all vulnerable to scams, at any age. Find tips on protecting yourself here.

At a time when Taylor Swift is having all kinds of aggravation with Kanye and Kim, here’s something that could cheer her up. Residents of the Julia Wallace Retirement Village in New Zealand, average age 82, have paid tribute to Taylor by recreating her video “Shake It Off.” The video, which took a week to film, already has over 100,000 views on You Tube. Enjoy!

Watch video.

Even if you pack your diet with super foods like blueberries and broccoli, you could still be shortening your life if you’re not following the 80% rule. Why does this simple rule help you live longer?

Because it means eating only 80% of the food on your plate, which is one of nine healthy practices shared by people in longevity hot spots around the world. In fact, researchers found that in Okinawa, Japan (aka The Island of the Immortals), residents say “Hara Hachi Bu” before every meal. This phrase, which translates to “belly 80% full,” is their reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.

We may not see an influx of 100-year-olds walking the earth, but the growing interest in leading a longer, happier life is a mature market trend we should all keep an eye on.

Next week, we’ll reveal what you should be eating.

It’s something we should all try, because it’s one of the 9 practices shared by residents of longevity hot spots around the world. Why is this habit so important?

Because research has found that habit #3, “downshift” (finding ways to relieve stress), can help you live longer and lower your risk of heart disease. For long-lived residents of Ikaria, Greece, downshifting means an afternoon nap. Why not join them? Happy snoozing!

Check back next week to hear about #4: the 80% rule.

You’ll find it in Blue Zones, places around the world where people live to 100 at rates ten times greater than in the U.S. They share nine healthy traits. And #2 has nothing to do with diet and exercise. It’s “Know Your Purpose,” which means knowing why you wake up in the morning – and it can add an extra seven years to your life expectancy.

Blue Zones researchers found that sense of purpose in places like Okinawa, Japan. They learned that Okinawans have clear feelings of being needed well into their 100s.

Think about ways to incorporate “Know Your Purpose” and the other 9 principles into marketing your products or services. One way: hold a “Purpose” workshop at your community to help residents explore their life dreams.

Next week, get ready to Downshift (#3).

Baby Boomers are about to do something undesirable yet inevitable — they’re going to start getting old. Will these years be filled with vitality or chronic disease?

Boomers can learn from those who live in Blue Zones, pockets around the world where people live measurably longer and better, reaching 100 years of age at rates 10 times greater than in the U.S.

Studies by Dan Buettner and a team of researchers found that the lifestyles of residents in these Blue Zones — Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, Calif.; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica — shared nine principles:

  1. Move naturally
  2. Know your purpose
  3. Downshift
  4. 80 percent rule
  5. Plant slant
  6. Wine @ 5
  7. Family first
  8. Belong
  9. Right tribe

Challenge your team to think about ways to incorporate these principles into marketing your products or services. We’ll help by discussing one each week in this blog. Let’s start with #1: Move naturally.

Moving naturally simply means finding ways to move more in your everyday life, so you burn more calories without even thinking about it. Some easy suggestions: Keep a garden, walk to a friend’s house, park at the far end of the lot, take the stairs. What other ways can you encourage your customers to move more?

Next week, we’ll cover #2: Know your purpose.

As I’ve been pondering David Bowie’s passing, I couldn’t help but be struck by how well he orchestrated the sequence of events leading up to his death.

At 69, David Bowie was a member of the Boomer generation. Now, while he wasn’t your average, everyday Boomer, he lived through the same world events as Boomers everywhere. And, after all, haven’t we learned that there really is no such thing as an “average, everyday Boomer”?

While Bowie could be defined as a rock star, he certainly wasn’t a cliché. He didn’t die of a pathetic overdose. He didn’t take his own life in a fit of angst. He didn’t go out in a fiery crash. He went out doing what he wanted to do: create.

David Bowie didn’t share with the world that cancer was eating away at his body. That was his personal right. He chose to keep that private and, while it meant the world would be shocked by the news of his passing, it also meant he was free to create, right until the end. There weren’t tabloid shots of his fluctuating weight. There wasn’t speculation about how long he had, or grainy images of him in a hospital somewhere. He maintained his privacy and, therefore, his dignity.

As many have written, he had beautifully orchestrated his goodbye, with both his new Off-Broadway musical, “Lazarus,” and his new album, “Blackstar.” And to top it off? The entire run of “Lazarus” sold out in a matter of hours, and “Blackstar” garnered some of his best reviews — all without the benefit of a “celebrity death” to spark that interest.

He reflected many of the traits we’ve seen in the Boomer generation: a love for life, pursuit of interests, desire for control over his own life — ultimately making his own decisions.

David Bowie was art. David Bowie was passion. David Bowie was an individual — just like so many of his fellow Boomers.

Some popular retirement destinations didn’t make the cut, although Florida does rank in the top one-third. According to a recent Gallup report, Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota, Alaska and Iowa are the five states that ranked highest for total well-being in adults aged 55 or over.

The poll ranked each state on five elements of well-being: community, physical, purpose, financial and social — many of the same factors measured by the Blue Zones® study, which analyzes lifestyles in communities where people live significantly longer.

Not surprisingly, higher well-being aligns with a lower incidence of heart attack and other chronic diseases. Two of the states that made the top five for total well-being, Hawaii and Alaska, were also in the top five for fewest heart attacks. West Virginia, which ranked #50 for well-being, had the nation’s highest incidence of heart attack at 7.7%.

If you don’t happen to live in Hawaii or Alaska, there’s still good news. According to Gallup, well-being increases significantly as we age, in all fifty states.

Many senior communities pride themselves on welcoming new residents, but these days, they must roll out the red carpet for another group as well: the furry friends of those residents.

We’ve found through our own research that pets are extremely important to the next generation of retirees. As more and more Boomers turn 65, that trend is only expected to grow. Some communities already go beyond standard pet-friendly policies to offer added services catering to four-legged residents.

Pet-focused programs can also be offered in different forms at different care levels so that residents can continue to reap the important health benefits of interactions with animals as they age.

Here are ten pet-focused services communities may want to consider offering if they aren’t already:

  1. Dog park
  2. Yappy hour (residents bring pets to socialize during happy hour)
  3. Pet-related merchandise in the community gift shop
  4. Pet care program (walking, feeding, litter-changing, playful exercise, medication administration, etc.)
  5. Pet salon or mobile grooming
  6. Vet house calls
  7. Day care or boarding for pets
  8. Community dogs and cats
  9. Pet therapy
  10. Pet-oriented events like celebrations and adoption fairs

Marketing Insight:

As animal-loving Boomers enter the senior living market in droves, it’s time to fully capitalize on the health and financial benefits of providing their pets with creature comforts.

It kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined. It takes the lives of one in three seniors. And only 45% of people who are diagnosed, are told they have it. It’s Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

More than 28 million boomers will get Alzheimer’s by 2050, and spending on this disease will eat up 25% of Medicare funds. It’s the only disease in the top ten we can’t prevent, cure or slow. But we can take action. And today is World Alzheimer’s Day, the perfect time to start. To learn more, watch the video.

We joke about it at the office: ”Oh, I’ll be paying off those student loans for the rest of my life.” But, for some people, it’s actually true.

According to the Government Accountability Office, 706,000 of households headed by people over 65 have outstanding student debt. They owed a collective $18.2 billion in 2013, up from $2.8 billion in 2005. Worse yet, people over 65 default on their loans at a much higher rate than younger people, and can have part of their social security benefits garnished to offset their debt.

Those stats strike close to home here at Varsity. A number of employees here are paying off student loans. One woman chose a 15-year loan period with a $600 monthly payment. “I wanted them gone,” she said. “I don’t want to be in my 60s and paying them off.” As it is, she’ll pay a total of $30,000 in interest. (Her friends who chose 30-year loan periods will be paying for a long, long time.) Another co-worker has an 8.75 percent interest rate. “It’s crazy that you can get a house at a lower interest rate than a student loan,” he said.

Student loan debt is becoming such a huge issue that it’s a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail. Learn where each politician stands here.

Which celebrity recently helped prepare meals and deliver them to seniors? A good egg who’s very tired of bacon jokes. His name is Kevin Bacon, and recently he did his part to fight hunger by volunteering at a NYC Meals on Wheels.

Since we work in an industry that serves seniors, it’s important to be aware that 6.4 million of them suffer from hunger. What better time to call attention to this life-threatening issue than World Hunger Month, going on now.

You can be six degrees away from Kevin Bacon and help your favorite hunger charity win $5,000 by taking the good egg challenge and spoofing his funny Web film and shorts. Watch them here.

What do many of the trends we’ve spotted lately have in common? They all do one important thing: nurture ties among people and communities.

  1. Connecting to Generations: Avanti Senior Living brainstormed with kids to create meals, programs and events just for them.
  1. Connecting to the Community: Smart design draws in locals through community centers, gyms, art galleries and restaurants, all of which are open to the public.
  1. Connecting to Safety: Residents at Episcopal Senior Communities wear pendants that connect them to the staff via wifi, so they feel safe anywhere on campus.
  1. Connecting to Discovery: “The Magic Table,” created by Dutch start-up, Active Cues, and reported in Mintel, allows residents to interact with words, images and games beamed down on a table from a smart projector.
  1. Connecting to Nature: A multisensory immersion environment in The Goodman Group’s memory care unit includes plant walls, ocean scents and star-like lighting.

How does your organization help people connect?

Think that only blondes have more fun? That thinking is old. These days, the trend is not covering grey with color, but covering color with grey.

The grey hair or “granny hair” trend has been around for awhile but is going stronger than ever. A string of celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Kate Moss, Kelly Osborn, Rihanna, Nicole Richie, and even Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes, have all rocked granny hair.

The Huffington Post calls granny hair the hottest beauty trend of spring/summer 2015. And #granny hair is all over social media, with 27,102 posts on Instagram right now. The fashion world is showing love for granny hair as well, with models for Gucci, Versace and Dior strutting their silver locks on the catwalk.

It’s wonderful that society is recognizing that looks of any age can be beautiful. And even better that, after years of dropping serious cash at salons to hide the grey, women may be encouraged to embrace the beauty of their natural color. Then they’ll have more funds to spend on fun things, like that bucket-list trip to Hawaii.

 

Maggie is 87. She lives alone and no longer drives. Her grown children live out of town, and her only regular companion is her grandson Mark who does her grocery shopping and handles her banking. Everyone says how helpful Mark is, but some family members have suspicions.They’ve noticed his new flat screen TV, fancy smartphone and expensive shoes.

When it comes to older people and their relationships, there could be more there than meets the eye. That’s why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was created. Today, June 15, is a day when people around the world plan activities and wear purple to raise awareness of the abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders.

Here are six facts about elder abuse you may not know:

  1. Over one in 10 elders is affected, but only one in 23 cases are reported.
  2. 90 percent of elder abuse is committed by a family member.
  3. Those over 80 are most likely to be abused.
  4. Risk factors for the abuser include substance abuse, mental health disorders and financial issues.
  5. Financial abuse is the fastest growing form of abuse.
  6. Often, the abuser is the only form of companionship for the abused.

It’s important to raise awareness for this serious problem today by getting involved in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. But it’s even more important to watch out for the red flags of abuse on the other 364 days of the year. To learn more about elder abuse and how to report it, visit www.ncea.aoa.gov or call 1-800-677-1116.

When we’re working with a client on a potential brand position, we ask three questions: Is it true? Is it unique? And is it compelling? All three of those qualities need to come together for a brand to work its hardest. In previous posts, I covered true, unique and compelling in detail. A quick recap:

  • True: The claim you’re making must be true. Otherwise, people may try your product—but they won’t buy it again. Some examples of brands that didn’t live up to their advertising: the Ford Edsel, Surge soda and WOW Chips.
  • Unique: The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) first discussed in the ‘40s still holds true today. It’s critical to find something that makes your product truly different. It’s all about that one promise that no one else in the market can make.
  • Compelling: Last but not least, if a proposition is true and unique, but not compelling to customers, they won’t be moved to act. How can we be sure our promise is on track? Research. Research. Research. We should never assume we know what consumers think before checking in with them.

True. Unique. Compelling. The right brand position will be all three.