Redefining aging in place
by Jerry Keiderling

We’re on the precipice of redefining aging in America. Today’s baby boomers are fiercely determined to age better than previous generations. They increasingly reject traditional views of what it means to grow old. They 
embrace the concept of active aging, 
demand control over their health care and strongly prefer to live out their lives at home. As life expectancy and expectations increase, we all need to prepare for the unprecedented demand for all aspects of in-home medical care, offerings in accessibility equipment and a multitude of complementary services. The home medical and accessibility industry is poised for serious growth in our nation’s changing health care system. Collaboration and innovation is critical to expand the possibilities for older adults to live out their lives actively and safely in their homes. They say that it sometimes takes a village to achieve real solutions and positive outcomes. This is especially true when considering all of the entities, products and services involved in the process of providing quality care to those in need and real solutions for independent living opportunities. HME providers are often a village of their own, comprised of experts in multiple segments of health care; respiratory, mobility, rehab, wound care, sleep and more. Even with the recent challenges of operating within our ever-changing health care system, the fact remains that home health care has a bright future. The opportunity of today is to expand your village and take a serious look at the emerging demographics and the corresponding opportunities in accessibility. As in any business model, there are a few points to be considered when expanding into a new market such as home accessibility. Some of these attainable goals include:

  • Education, credentialing and licensing for your associates—Give them the opportunity to expand their careers while at the same time maintaining a true level of professionalism for your company.
  • Marketing—With time, everyone can find a niche marketing strategy that works well for their existing business. Expand on that knowledge and utilize that strategy to inform all clients and referral sources of your new offerings.
  • Networking—Build relationships with nursing services and caregivers, remodelers and contractors. These will prove to be very valuable in your marketing efforts.

Expansion does not necessarily mean adding physical space or additional locations. It’s more of a focus on products, services and expertise that you could be offering to your clients and referral sources. With more than 12,000 Americans turning 50 years old every day, the 
opportunity for growth and success is here. The market created by individuals in this demographic is estimated to be 54 percent larger and growing faster than oxygen, and that’s just the aging population. Our modern-day society and the way we live, eat and work has led many down the path to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The rapid growth in the number of individuals with these specific diseases can only lead to a rapid growth for home health care needs. Taking into account all the factors—growth in the aging population, in epidemic disease states and the desire to stay active and independent—home 
accessibility becomes a natural progression or expansion for HME providers today. In the category of products and equipment alone, the market is estimated at nearly $7 billion, not including the add-on 
services of evaluation/assessment, delivery, installation and labor (including home remodeling of all levels), all of which bring the market to a total of about $30 billion. The economics of skilled health care versus home care and higher consumer expectations are encouraging growth in fields of technology, new product development and service offerings by professionals devoted to making a difference in their lives and standards of independent living. As the population begins to age in place, the marketplace for home accessibility will grow rapidly. Home accessibility is an excellent opportunity to diversify your business and grow along with the customer base that you currently serve. Those of us who plan for it will be ready for the opportunity to be highly successful, but just thinking about it does nothing—embrace it!