Uncategorized Archives – Varsity Branding

Category: Uncategorized

If you’ve always thought social media was a young person’s game, you may want to think again. 

That’s because a new wave of senior influencers are giving content creators on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube a run for their money — or at least for their followers and brand collaborations. They’re called granfluencers, and they’re every bit as significant as their junior counterparts.

As I’ve shared recently, pop culture has no age, and social media is much the same. Just think back to 2010, when Betty White became the oldest person to host “Saturday Night Live,” thanks to the nearly half a million people who supported a Facebook campaign rallying for her to get the gig. Thinking back to her ability to cross generational lines, one could consider White to be the original granfluencer. 

Bursting with life experience, wisdom and overwhelming charisma, granfluencers have been busy creating content in all sorts of genres — from fashion and life advice to wellness and food. It’s also clear that they’re quite savvy in every way, even if it means their kids and grandkids are helping them produce video content. 

Not only are granfluencers racking up millions of followers, but they’re also shaking up social media dynamics. Marketers have noticed. And when you factor in that baby boomers control over half of the country’s household wealth, it makes a whole lot of sense for brands to expand into older demographics. 

Even better, granfluencers are actually reaching across generational lines, and there’s evidence that younger generations make up a large part of their followers. Maybe it’s because today’s young adults are drawn to the authenticity and wisdom of senior influencers, but two-thirds of Generation Z and millennials say they enjoy watching videos featuring mature adults. And a whopping 78% of Generation Z and millennials say they have gained valuable knowledge from older content creators.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve put together a list of some mature influencers that are popular among followers of all ages.

10 Granfluencers to Follow

Helen Van Winkle, @baddiewinkle

Instagram Followers: 3.1 M

Age: 95

Helen Van Winkle, @baddiewinkle

Known for her humor, innuendo and eccentric personal style, Helen fights for the legalization of medical marijuana and against ageism.

Lillian Droniak, @grandma_droniak

TikTok Followers: 13.3M 

Age: 93

As a celebrity grandma, this granfluencer can often be found discussing her love life and exes in humorous ways.

Lili Hayes, @lilihayes

TikTok Followers: 6.6M

Age: 76

An Israeli-American comedian, Lili enjoys entertaining followers by loudly ranting about life, while often sporting Supreme clothing.

Retirement House, @retirementhouse

TikTok Followers: 5.6M

Age: 70+

This group of six senior actors, collectively known as Retirement House, live together and create social media content together. 

Stanley Tucci, @stanleytucci

Instagram Followers: 4.3M

Age: 63

This actor and Italian foodie shares his travels and many delicious recipes, sometimes making them right in his own kitchen.

Barbara Costello, @brunchwithbabs

TikTok Followers: 3.9M

Age: 72

Touting herself as “everyone’s grandmother,” Babs is the internet mom and grandma you didn’t know you needed. Tune in for recipes, household tips and motherly advice.

Bo Petterson, @dadadvicefrombo

TikTok Followers: 3.5M

Age: 65

Bo offers fatherly advice on everything from buying a car to shaving, while also helping his daughter heal from a traumatic brain injury.

Joan MacDonald, @trainwithjoan

Instagram Followers: 1.9M

Age: 77

As a fitness granfluencer with a bodybuilder’s physique, Joan uses her own inspirational story to show followers of all ages that it’s never too late to put your health first and get into shape. 

George Takei, @georgehtakei

Instagram Followers: 1.4M

Age: 86

Known for his role on Star Trek in the 1960s, this actor and activist now shares content ranging from politics to pop culture.

Charlotte Simpson, @travelingblackwidow

Instagram Followers: 27.6K

Age: 68

After losing her husband of 31 years, Charlotte decided to focus on solo travel and share her experiences with the world on Instagram. She has been to all seven continents and all 50 states.

Yesterday, we celebrated our 200th Varsity Sales & Marketing Roundtable. Over 50 attendees tuned in to hear special guest John Spooner, co-chief executive officer of Greystone Communities, share his presentation, “Understanding the New Consumer Mindset.” Here are some highlights of John’s fascinating discussion.

More Than a Retirement Counselor

You may be called a retirement counselor or marketing assistant, but you have to think of yourself as the chief revenue officer. The organization won’t thrive unless you have success bringing new residents into the community.

The Three Buckets of Prospects

How many clients do you have that are sold on your community, but still won’t move forward? We put prospects into three buckets:

  • Planners: They know what they want and they move through the process relatively fast.
  • Procrastinators: A giant bloat in your database: They’re sold but they’re just not moving forward.
  • Crashers: They wait too late, and come in after they’ve had a health scare. Now they need AL, but they really want IL.

‘I Understand and Want the Benefits of Your Community, BUT …’

The procrastinators say things like, “I couldn’t leave my home.” “Let’s talk next year.” “I’m not ready.” “I need to think about this.”

We call those F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Those are people that we have trouble moving through the process. Their objections are not unique. Sometimes it’s an emotional objection, sometimes it’s a financial objection. They toggle back and forth and switch to another one after you’ve got them covered. So the question is, at what point do we lose them? When the reality sets in that they have to make a decision.

Selling Senior Living Is Hard, Buying Is Harder

Selling is a difficult job. But buying is harder because prospects are coming into it without a lot of knowledge, trying to make a decision that most of them don’t want to make. That’s why you have so many people in your bloated database.

Prospects Have Created a Living Terrarium — and They Want to Stay There

We’re genetically engineered to conserve energy by minimizing energy expenditure. It’s easy to say, “I can’t move because I can’t change my doctor, my plumber, my friends.” Prospects have created this living terrarium that they are living in — they are not going to expose themselves to self-imposed chaos. They say, “I’m going to hit the easy button and live in my ecosystem. Ecosystem equals status quo.

Battling ‘Status Quo’ Bias

Everything that prospects think or say is about seeking information that confirms their decision to do nothing and maintain the status quo. They are so fearful of making a mistake for an uncertain outcome that they can’t move forward. Simply put, their fear of messing up is more than their fear of missing out. Our job is to break the gravitational pull of that senior status quo. When you can move their status quo so that it becomes less than the community, everyone wins.

Your competition isn’t another community across town. Your competition isn’t “staying in their own home.” The REAL competition is NO DECISION. Some seniors are playing the same “no-decision” game with every community in town. They live in a constant state of indecision. You need to know how to recognize it and overcome it. They are thinking, “What if your community isn’t what I want?” Your job is to give them confidence that they’re going to go in there and be OK.

Prospects do not want to talk about you or your community. They want to talk to you about them. When you go to the doctor, you don’t want to watch a video of their latest operation, you want them to talk to you about your problem. The same goes for senior living. Don’t give a long description of the community … the choice of three entrees … the meal points program … the beautiful apartments — prospects want to talk to you about them.

Going Beyond Discovery 101 to ‘Radical Candor’

There are standard discovery questions that we all use. But it really needs to be about breaking the status quo. It’s about the art of personal engagement and addressing uncomfortable topics to give prospects personal insight. You have to learn to attack their outcome uncertainty and reframe questions to get them to understand why they have to break the status quo.

That requires radical candor. You have to challenge them by asking uncomfortable questions, like:

  • Does the next five years of your life look like the last five years?
  • That house isn’t working for you anymore, is it?

It might be unpleasant and it might be scary for you to be this forward, but it’s OK. The first two to three questions are difficult, but you will be surprised at the great outcomes. Don’t talk to prospects about all the contract options — talk to them about how they can break out of their little terrarium. Radical candor is about caring personally and challenging directly.

Your job is to ask and then to reframe the probing question into a statement that assures them they have the confidence to make this decision. Challenge their positions and biases, and then stand up and make a recommendation to them. You are the subject matter expert. You are the one they have turned to to help them spend the last years of their life. From your discovery, you know what is important to prospects. You can start with “This plan is a popular option” or “I personally prefer this option.” It shows that you have diagnosed their needs and have a personal recommendation. 

Indecision Junkie Recovery Program

To sum up, here are six steps to indecision junkie recovery.  

  1. Own the flow of information.
  2.   Employ “radical candor.”
  3.   Anticipate objections and indecision.
  4.   Use your discovery knowledge.
  5.   Community  > Risk > Status Quo
  6.   Make a personal recommendation.

What Your Community Can Offer Prospects

Security. Predictability. Safety. Dependability. Reliability. Permanence. These qualities represent what your community can offer prospects — the stuff deep down in their emotions that they’re looking for. You just need to wash away the fear by leading them through the mire and muck of “status quo bias” — giving them confidence to make a decision.




In another signal of the agency’s growth – and planned expansion for the future – Varsity has named Derek Dunham as the agency’s president. In his new position, Dunham will lead day-to-day operations of the company in support of its national footprint and expanding client base. 

Derek is an 18-year veteran of Pavone Group and has been a leader at Varsity since the agency was founded. At Varsity, he’s led research studies, strategic development initiatives and tactical plan implementation for countless senior living organizations and other major brands targeting the mature market. 

For Derek, the new role is an opportunity to lead clients as they transition to the next wave of retirees and their ever changing expectations. It’s also an opportunity to continue Varsity’s work in challenging senior marketing stereotypes. 

“The field of aging services is incredibly diverse and yet we see a lot of marketing aimed at older adults that’s based on the same tired stereotypes,” said Derek. “Varsity’s goal for its clients is to bring ideas to life that shatters those stereotypes. That’s what Varsity has done for the past two decades and what we’ll continue to do in the future.” 



Many times we are asked by clients to mystery shop their competitors to find out current pricing, occupancy and incentives. While these things are important to know, what’s even more important from a sales perspective is to find out about the customer experience. We want to engage in the sales process, see things from the customer’s point of view and come away with impressions and observations that help us assist our clients in creating a unique experience for their customers. Our evaluation includes things like: Were we made to feel welcome? What kinds of questions were asked? Was the presentation of the community tailored to what’s important to me or was it a generic “tour”? Was there any follow-up after the meeting? What we find, fairly consistently, is that the initial call and tour of the community are not handled well at all. 

Overwhelmingly, sales counselors are not dedicating time and attention to discovering what prospects value in life, and then demonstrating how the community can deliver on those desired experiences. With few exceptions, we get the standard tour of common areas, are shown the model apartment, then are sent on our way with a packet chock-full of information, some of which is not pertinent to a decision. On my first visit to the community, I do not need to know the extension numbers of department heads or when my trash will be picked up.

Some other common pitfalls identified during mystery shopping are as follows, along with absolutely true examples of each, which you may find shocking, or, at the very least, amusing.

Pitfall 1: Talking too much about yourself. I have learned way too much unnecessary personal information about some of the sales counselors I’ve encountered. Some examples:

  • “I am one of 11 children. My mother wasn’t expected to be able to conceive and then she had two sets of triplets, two sets of twins and my brother. I’m a triplet. I’m used to sharing and cooking.”
  • “According to the state, I only have four dogs, but in reality I have seven dogs and too many cats to count. Our house is in a dumping area for animals and I can’t turn them away. I have such a heart for animals.”
  • “I live in an apartment here in the community. I have two cups of coffee in my apartment, then come down to my office and have another two cups. That’s it for the day unless I start to doze off at my desk.”

It’s one thing to share your experiences if they match up to those of your prospect, demonstrating that you have something in common or are in agreement about something, but these statements were unsolicited and not in response to anything I said. Please shut up, ask good questions and listen. It might help to role-play your presentation so you are more comfortable.                       

Pitfall 2: Answering unasked questions, sharing too much information or airing dirty laundry. This may be due to lack of training, nervousness or not being prepared.   

  • “The residents in memory care are primarily vagrants who were dumped off here by the sheriff.” (When I asked if my forgetful mother would qualify for assisted living or memory care)
  • “We had a terrible mold problem last year but it has since been corrected.” (The thought hadn’t occurred to me but now I’m worried about breathing.)
  • “It doesn’t usually smell this bad here.” (Skilled nursing tour)
  • “Just a heads up, it smells like raw sewage in the model cottage and we haven’t identified the cause yet.” (We toured it anyway instead of seeing another cottage.)

Even though these statements were true, they certainly didn’t make me want my mother to live there! Don’t feel the need to say something just to fill dead air. Ask questions instead of just saying whatever pops into your mind to break the silence. And plan your appointments beforehand so you don’t walk into an unfortunate situation.

Pitfall 3: Not listening and/or not recording notes in the CRM. If the sales counselor is doing all the talking, it doesn’t leave time for listening, and certainly doesn’t make the prospect feel special or understood. Examples:             

  • “Your daughter can stay in our guest apartment when she visits you.” (I had stated earlier that my daughter lives near the community and I wanted to relocate to that town in order to be near her.)
  • Repeated voicemails asking, “When can you come and tour our community?” (I had already been there and had a tour.)

Take good notes on what your prospect is saying to you. What’s important to them should be important to you. And make sure to add your notes into the CRM so you, or your successor, can review them prior to your next interaction with the prospect and show your sincere interest in their life and situation.     

Pitfall 4: Not closing on the next step. On many community tours, I was not brought to a closing area to go over prices, availability, questions, etc., but rather sent on my way with a packet and the parting words:

  • “I hope you come live with us.”
  • “Have a nice rest of your day.”
  • “We strive for great reviews. Would you please go on Google and give me a positive review, mentioning me by name?”

Closing is not difficult to do. It is proposing an action that the prospect either accepts or rejects, such as, “May I call you on Tuesday to see if you have any questions?” or “Let’s set up a day for you to come in for lunch.”

Mystery shopping has really opened my eyes as to what our prospects experience when they tour our communities. Unfortunately, a bad experience at one community can shed a negative light on us all. Treat each and every prospect as if they are the most important person to you … because they are!

Even though February is the shortest month of the year, it sometimes seems like it’s never going to end. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s dreary and it doesn’t have the advantage of December’s holiday parties to bring happiness and cheer.

But February is also packed with occasions that can help us be kind to one another and lift one another’s spirits. These holidays include Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 14 – 20),  National Write a Letter to an Elder Day  (February 26) and National Set a Good Example Day (February 26).  And don’t forget National Caregivers Day (Third Friday in February), which is a great time to thank the people giving their all to care for residents.

We can all feel a lot warmer by taking advantage of February’s many opportunities to be kind to our residents, our staff and one another. These don’t have to be grand gestures — even the smallest act of kindness can spread joy, connection and positive change around your community, and ultimately, the world.

.Here are seven things you can do to show kindness to your residents and staff during National Kindness Week.

  1. Send a handwritten letter. 70% of people find letters written by hand more personal and prefer them to emails or texts. Possible items to include: a story about your life, a joke, a fun illustration or a crossword puzzle.
  2. Give a compliment. Show your appreciation by praising an aspect of a team member’s or resident’s personality, character or appearance that you truly admire.
  3. Plan a scavenger hunt. Hide notes with small acts of kindness written on them and have residents and staff work together to find them.
  4. Leave uplifting notes. Place sticky post-it notes in shared spaces or work stations or on a resident’s door with positive messages like, “You are special,” “You add so much to the community” or “You inspire me.”
  5. Set up a kindness station. Create a space where volunteers and team members can hand out balloons, give manicures, pass out cookies, serve a cup of coffee or just spend time chatting.
  6. Do a small favor. Run an errand, carry in groceries, open a door, help a resident with their computer or phone, walk a dog.
  7. Decorate the community. Put up flowers, posters and banners to remind people that it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week.

Don’t stop just because Random Acts of Kindness Week ends — keep the goodwill going! Check the National Day Calendar [links to: https://www.nationaldaycalendar.com] to find small holidays in every month to celebrate and keep spreading those positive feelings, because kindness has physical, mental and emotional benefits. It boosts happiness and well-being, combats depression and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, reduces pain and promotes healthy relationships.

The more you fill this month with small acts of kindness, the less you’ll worry about the black ice, surprise snowstorms and freezing temps. You’ll be having so much fun, you may even wish that February had more than 28 days.



You’ve heard all the ageist cliches: Act your age. You’re no spring chicken. Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. You’re out of touch with society. And so many more. 

Is there any truth to these? Probably not. But here’s what we did realize about pop culture: You don’t have to be young to be relevant. 

Negative comments about aging and biases against older adults are pervasive in our lives. Which is why it’s so refreshing to see that pop culture has been debunking some of those stereotypes. Essentially, you can be mature and relevant, and we’re seeing proof of that in everything from toys to music. 

Justice for older women

Let’s talk about former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was always an influential public figure throughout her career. But it wasn’t until her 80s when she truly became a pop culture icon. The film “RBG details her unlikely rise to stardom, including how she was lovingly nicknamed “Notorious RBG” by her fans.

Thanks to the wildly successful “Barbie movie, the iconic, sexagenarian brand is more popular than ever — with consumers of all ages. Most notably, director Greta Gerwig used the movie to challenge age-related stereotypes of women in the film industry. Barbie’s longevity has impacted many generations, and it’s refreshing to see that impact get updated in a positive way. For example, last fall Mattel released a limited-edition Stevie Nicks Barbie doll, whose style and dress pays homage to the 75-year-old Fleetwood Mac singer. 

Musicians don’t seem to age

Look at Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 80, who released their first Rolling Stones album in 18 years last fall. Yes, it’s true, society is still worshiping these octogenarian rockers — and rightfully so. Their “Hackney Diamonds” album even features guest appearances from the likes of Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

Speaking of McCartney, 81, he’s another example of a musician who’s not slowing down anytime soon. Last year alone, he put out his “Eyes of the Storm” photography exhibition and accompanying book, a new podcast, finished up his Got Back tour and released the last Beatles song, “Now and Then.”

Also last year, 76-year-old Elton John completed his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. That’s after his relentless touring over the past 50-plus years, playing nearly 4,600 shows in 80 countries. 

At 90, Willie Nelson released his 74th solo studio album, “Bluegrass,” and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to tour and perform. 

And we can’t forget how Dolly Parton stole the show when she appeared at the Thanksgiving day Cowboys-Commanders game dressed as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She’s still got it at 77.

TV is the fountain of youth

This mature and relevant theme continues on TV. In fact, “Golden Girls,” four older women turned roommates, does seem to get better with age. After over 30 years since it last aired, its sassy dialogue still resonates with many, particularly millennials and the LGBTQ+ community.

There are also newer TV shows that play up older stars. “The Golden Bachelorfeatured Gerry Turner, 71. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were brought back into the spotlight with TV series “Grace and Frankie.” More than 30 years after the end of “Cheers,” Ted Danson is still being celebrated on TV, most recently with “The Good Place and “Mr. Mayor.” Michael Douglas starred in the “The Kominsky Method,” a show about an aging, once-famous actor who now makes a living as an acting coach. And even Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are as chic as ever in “And Just Like That …“, the Sex and the Citysequel. Only this time they’re dealing with issues like teenage kids and menopause, all while debunking media stereotypes of over-50 women. 

We’re just scratching the surface. There are endless examples of pop culture giving old age a fresh look. Maybe it’s because there’s an unprecedented population growth of people 65 and older. Or maybe society’s perspective has simply broadened to be more equitable to all ages. In any case, Jamie Lee Curtis, who won the first Oscar of her career for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at age 64, said it best: “This word ‘anti-aging’ has to be struck. I am pro-aging. I want to age with intelligence, and grace, and dignity, and verve, and energy. I don’t want to hide from it.”

Reprinted with permission from interestingfacts.com.

 It’s a fact of life — people grow old. While modern society tends to obsess about the negatives of aging, studies suggest that we often experience more happiness and contentment in our later years. These 12 facts investigate the phenomenon of growing old, debunk some persistent myths about aging, and explore the brighter side of those golden years.

  1. Say Goodbye To Migraines

As our bodies age, they naturally become more susceptible to a variety of illnesses and maladies — but migraines are the rare exception. Migraines often first develop in adolescence, and while both sexes are affected, women are three times more likely to develop migraines compared to men (often due to a fluctuation in estrogen levels). However, the frequency of migraines eventually peaks at the age of 40 and actually gets better as we enter our golden years. Stress and hormones are the most common triggers for migraines, and these two factors usually affect older people with less severity. That said, pain, smoking and alcohol can still contribute to migraines in seniors, and although migraines generally subside with age, they are still the second-most-common headache disorder in older people (after tension headaches). One in 10 older adults still experience them about once a year.

  1. Hair Doesn’t Actually “Turn” Gray

One of the hallmarks of aging is that our lifelong hair color begins to turn gray, or in some cases, white. Although an entire industry is built around hiding this fact, human hair isn’t actually turning gray so much as it’s no longer supplying the pigments necessary to produce color. This occurs when hydrogen peroxide builds up after wear-and-tear on the hair follicles. That blocks the normal synthesis of melanin, which is responsible for all shades of hair color.

  1. Older Adults Are Happier Than People In Their 20s on Average

As people age, we also gain a certain calm. A study published in 2016 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry analyzed a random sample of 1,546 people ages 21 to 100 in San Diego. Although younger people in the survey responded positively in terms of physical health compared to older folks (as anticipated), older adults far outperformed younger generations in terms of mental well-being. Panic disorders are also reported as less common among older cohorts compared to younger people, and developing a panic disorder later in life is a rarity.

  1. They Also Sweat Less, Too

As we age, our skin loses collagen, gets thinner, and presses our sweat glands close to the surface of our skin. This process is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, because these glands are squeezed, it’s harder for sweat to come out of our pores, meaning older people sweat less overall. This may be a check mark in the “pro” column for personal hygiene, but it does come with a few negative side effects. With a reduced ability to sweat, older adults can have trouble regulating temperature during strenuous exercise or excessive heat. Sweat also plays an important role in healing, as it helps stimulate wound closure in skin cells. Thankfully, a lifetime of physical fitness helps slow down this process so you can sweat long into your golden years.

  1. Older People Vote More Than Any Other Age Group

Older people may not feel as strong as they did in their youth, but in terms of political power, they’re as strong as ever. In 2018, 64% of people 65 and over voted in the U.S. midterm election — the highest turnout of any age group — and the 65-to-74-year-old cohort also had the highest turnout in the 2020 election. There are a couple of reasons why the older vote is particularly robust. The biggest may be that older Americans, as well as seniors in other democracies, have government programs and initiatives they rely on, such as Medicare, prescription drug pricing, and Social Security, and because these policies so directly affect them, elections tend to turn out seniors in higher numbers. (There are other factors at play, too — older folks may simply have more time on their hands.) Senior citizens also grease the wheels of democracy, as they’re the most likely age group to volunteer as poll workers on Election Day.

  1. Noses and Ears Don’t Keep Growing, But They Do Droop

While a common myth purports that our ears and nose continue to grow as we age (while the rest of us generally shrinks), that’s not entirely true. Like most other parts of our body, our ears and nose stop growing once we’re in adulthood, but the constant tug of gravity over the decades causes these cartilage-filled features to droop over time. This constant pull actually causes the collagen and elastic fibers in our ears and nose to elongate, and this lengthening, combined with surrounding facial structures losing overall volume, often produces the illusion of growing ears and noses as we age. This elongation is a slow and steady process; studies have shown that ears can lengthen some 0.22 millimeters a year. Interestingly, the process is so precise that you can discern a person’s age just by measuring their ears.

  1. Old Age Isn’t a Modern Phenomenon

A common misconception about old age is that it’s a relatively modern phenomenon, as our predecessors lived brutish lives cut short by disease and war. While modern medicine has certainly expanded life expectancy, many people in the past lived as long as people live today. For example, some ancient Roman offices sought by politically ambitious men couldn’t even be held until someone was 30 — not exactly a great idea if people didn’t live many years beyond that. Scientists have analyzed the pelvis joints (a reliable indicator of age) in skeletons from ancient civilizations and found that many people lived long lives. One study analyzing skeletons from Cholula, Mexico, between 900 and 1531 CE found that a majority of specimens lived beyond the age of 50. Low life expectancy in ancient times is impacted more by a high infant mortality rate than by people living unusually short lives. Luckily, modern science has helped more humans survive our vulnerable childhood years, and life expectancy averages have risen as a result.

  1. Older People Requiring Less Sleep is a Myth

Another myth about getting old is that as we age, humans need less and less sleep, somehow magically subsisting on six hours or less when we enter our senior years. The truth is that the amount of sleep a person needs is only altered during childhood and adolescence, as our bodies need more energy to do the tough work of growing. Once we’re in our 20s, humans require the same amount of sleep per night for the rest of their lives (though the exact amount differs from person to person). In fact, the elderly are more likely to be sleep-deprived because they receive lower-quality sleep caused by sickness, pain, medications, or a trip or two to the bathroom. This can be why napping during the day becomes more common as we grow older.

  1. Some of Our Bones Never Stop Growing

The common perception of human biology is that our bones put on some serious inches in our youth, and then by the time we’re 20 or so, nature pumps the brakes and our skeleton stays static forever. While that’s true of a majority of our bones, some don’t follow this simplistic blueprint. A 2008 study for Duke University determined that the bones in the skull continue to grow, with the forehead moving forward and cheek bones moving backward. Unfortunately, this imperceptible bit of a facial movement exacerbates wrinkles, because as the skull shifts forward, the overlying skin sags.

The pelvis also keeps growing throughout your life. Scientists analyzing the pelvic width of 20-year-olds compared to 79-year-olds found a 1-inch difference in width, which adds an additional 3 inches to your waistband. That means our widening in the middle as we age isn’t just about a slower metabolism.

  1. Pupils Get Smaller As We Age

While our hips get bigger, our pupils get smaller. The human pupil is controlled by the circumferential sphincter and iris dilator muscles, and as we add on the years, those muscles weaken. Because of this loss of muscle function, pupils get smaller as we age, and are also less responsive to light. Smaller pupils make it harder to see at night, so people in their 60s need three times as much light to read comfortably as people in their 20s. Reading a menu in a dimly lit restaurant? Forget about it. Other eye changes include an increased likeliness of presbyopia, or farsightedness (which can often be resolved with reading glasses), and cataracts, or a clouding of the eye’s lens. In fact, half of people over the age of 80 will have experienced a cataract of some kind.

  1. Older People Have a Stronger “Immune Memory”

Although the body experiences some slowing down as we age, growing old isn’t all bad news. Researchers from the University of Queensland found that older people had stronger immunities than people in their 20s, as the body keeps a repository of illnesses that can stretch back decades. This extra line of defense begins to drop off in our 70s and 80s, but until then, our bodies generally just get better and better at fighting off disease due to biological experience. Additionally, as we age we experience fewer migraines, the severity of allergies declines, and we produce less sweat. Older people also exhibit higher levels of “crystalized intelligence” (or what some might call “wisdom”) than any other age group.

  1. The Atoms That Make Up All of Us Are Already Billions of Years Old

It’s true that age is just a number, and in the cosmic view of the universe, human age is pretty insignificant. The atoms that make up the human body are already billions of years old. For example, hydrogen — one of the key components of our bodies — formed in the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Likewise, carbon, the primary component of all known life, formed in the fiery cauldron of stars at least 7 billion years ago. So when someone says we’re all made of “star stuff,” they’re very much telling the truth (we’re also made from various supernovae). And while we grow old on Earth, this is only the latest chapter of a story that stretches back to the beginning of everything — and it’s a story that’ll continue until the universe ends.


Social media continues to reinvent how people of all ages find information. That can mean news, ads, pop culture, world events — did I mention ads? The rise of digital channels, social media included, to predominance within advertising has been a rollercoaster.

At Varsity, we’ve got plenty of experience delivering across traditional and digital channels. What works in one camp won’t get far in another. And that’s fine, because not every tool is right for every job. Targeted social media may do well for a geofenced region, but whether it does better than a well-placed billboard is a never-ending debate.

Today we’re here to share some tips on social media best practices, and help you up your game without upping your budget. In 2024, it can be summed up in one word: quality. But what does quality mean in this context? Length, depth, authenticity and human connection — things that do not lend themselves to social media’s climate of instant results and instant gratification.

Here’s the missing link: social media being the start and not the end to the conversation. With a little strategy and prep, social media can go from reactive, one-off posting to strategic markers within your buyer journey by providing direction toward the quality content that buyers, whether in purchasing modes or on the sidelines, need to read. Where social media opens the conversation through stylish, well-summarized points, let the conversation continue on other owned channels such as your company website and blog.

With all of that said, let’s get into the tips.

  1. Specificity and SEO Strengths

Google’s algorithms have shifted to heavily value longer-form, knowledge-dense content for SEO rankings. Add to that the continual emphasis on backlinking (places on the open web that link to your content, e.g., this page), and you’ve got two sides of a golden triangle. What connects those dots is practice — writing in-depth, specific content with an emphasis on keyword density. So, users that follow your social media posts to the blog have a good, shareable experience — and on the back-end, those posts are more likely to rank and receive traction from the open web.

Start small, by focusing on a couple of topics within your wheelhouse. Write often, and keep within the lines. As your library grows, between social and owned channels, the results will accumulate through SEO and into further buyer journey stages.

  1. Stories, Perspectives, People

One of senior living’s greatest strengths is its inherently emotional nature. People care deeply about their options, whether they’re shopping for themselves, a parent, or another relative. And they should care; choosing a community is no small question — or small investment, for that matter.

Because senior living is so deeply rooted in family, care and humanity, let those things work to your benefit. Solicit stories from residents and their families! Get out there and ask what is on your residents’ minds. Using social media, entire campaigns can spring up from your community. Relations to historical events and anniversaries, current events at your community, “resident of the week,” the options are limited only by your imagination and Wi-Fi speed.

  1. Always Call to Action

Including a CTA on social media to drive traffic is the classic example. But not every post should be designed to drive website traffic. In this climate of “community management” on social, some posts can exist purely to drive conversation. Calls to action may help to drive discussion in the comments, solicit recommendations, or share resources that readers have found. As comments and interactions come in, so will your social performance rise.

  1. Hacking A/B Testing

 This is one more digital marketing staple, with a twist. For paid ad campaigns, A/B testing has been a long-held standard. Create two versions of a post, tweak headlines or body copy, deploy, evaluate, rinse and repeat.

Taking the above suggestions into consideration, you can create parallel versions of the same post, or two different posts within the same campaign structure, and run A/B testing with them — not just to analyze performance, but also to leverage that diversity and get two versions of your content into the world for the price of one. For content that’s more passive or calendar filler, such as holiday staples, now your money’s going twice as far.

And that’s that! We hope that these tips have helped to start some ideas rolling.

Thanks for reading!


We hear over and over again about the extreme staffing shortages in senior living, and particularly about the lack of interest that younger people have in working in this industry.

But one twenty-something is bucking the trend. Alex Pavone, who graduated from Penn State University with a degree in health policy administration, said, “For many people, especially younger adults, senior living isn’t an appealing field. But for me, the industry is really intriguing. With the older population expanding, it poses a lot of opportunities for a long-term career.”

Alex’s interest in senior living started at a young age. “Volunteering at a community in high school, a college course in long-term care management, shadowing opportunities, as well as close relationships with my grandmothers,” she said. “These are a few of the things that sparked my interest in the industry.”

Alex’s recent visit to the 2023 LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Chicago made her interest even stronger. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what kind of resources are available to the industry,” she said. “The most fascinating thing was seeing the innovative products vendors have brought forward to serve these communities.”

Alex particularly loved the technology offerings. “I was especially interested by technology-based viewing of communities that allows you to ‘walk’ through the community without having to be there in person. This is a great resource for adult children as well as potential residents. Another technology I was excited about was robot restaurant servers.”

Currently working as an account manager and analyst, Alex has a strong work ethic, which runs in the family. Alex has seen her father, Michael Pavone, work to expand his business into many areas, including starting Varsity in 1992 to address the needs of the aging Baby Boomer population.

When asked what she has learned from her father over the years, Alex did not hesitate to share these three pieces of advice:

  1. Never give up.
  2. Hard work pays off.
  3. When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

It’s not hard to see that wherever her career takes her (hopefully to senior living), Alex is sure not to work a day in her life.


Over 350 sales and marketing professionals from senior living organizations of all sizes across the U.S. participated in the 2023 Senior Care Marketing & Sales Summit (SMASH) in Henderson, Nevada. Two of Varsity’s roundtable participants attended the sold-out conference. In this post, Mark Hamby, Director of Resident and Family Services at Parkway Village, and Christine Hall, Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Franke Tobey Jones, share with us 11 of the hottest trends that they heard about at SMASH. As you’ll see below, there have been a lot of new changes in the space since we posted about the top 10 senior living market trends during the pandemic.

  1. Occupancy has flattened out. The average occupancy across senior living in 2023 was 80%. 20% of communities are under 60% occupied, so more communities are discounting this year.
  2. AI is transforming the customer journey. Within five years, every webpage and follow-up email will be completely different for each prospect, with copy completely tailored to their interests.
  3. Prospects are aging. 20% of prospects and 25% of new residents are 90+ years old.
  4. Digital marketing is more important than ever. For all communities, 40% to 60% of leads are coming in digitally. One important feature that prospects want to see on websites is accurate, transparent pricing. Also, communities need to protect themselves from lawsuits by including HIPAA-compliant copy that assures prospects their information will not be sold.
  5. The senior living industry is underperforming. According to Forbes, senior living is the third largest industry, but is also the most underperforming. Our space is doing 9% of total business, but we should be doing closer to 19%.
  6. Adult children are shopping online at night. A huge number of adult family members are researching communities between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Communities should consider hiring a call center or using a chatbot to ensure customers can get initial information after hours.
  7. Speed to lead is critical. 70% of prospects will tour a community within seven days of initial contact, and during that time, sales teams complete about 10 touches. The first community to reach a lead is most likely to get the tour. Sales teams must reach out within 20 minutes to an hour, or the lead will go on to another community.
  8. Online reviews are crucial. 91% of people looking for senior living communities are using Google reviews —  the highest percentage of any industry (80% said if the community doesn’t have four stars or more, they won’t consider it).
  9. Value-select premium pricing is on the rise. Pricing of same-sized units is no longer identical. Consumers don’t want to pay as much for an apartment that looks out on a parking lot as one with a lake view.
  10. Fear of COVID-19 is still the biggest obstacle to move-ins. It’s important to educate prospects, letting them know that fewer than 1% of 800,000 residents have contracted COVID and that communities continue to strengthen their safety policies.
  11. Biggest selling tool: a welcoming atmosphere. Prospects put a huge emphasis on how they feel when they walk in to a community. A friendly, engaged atmosphere with smiling staff and residents is the best tool for closing sales.
Subscribe to
Varsity Prime