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New Mather Institute Study Shines Spotlight on Gen X’s Concerns, Desires 

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The Mather Institute has launched a five-year study to determine various aspects about what Generation X wants out of senior living in an effort to better appeal to them.

Members of the cohort known as Generation X – usually defined as people born between 1965 and 1980 – are not yet ready to move into senior living communities. But they are becoming primary decision makers for their parents, and they also represent a sizable portion of the senior living workforce.

“The better we can understand them, the better we will be able to serve them,” Mather CEO Mary Leary told SHN in an interview earlier this week.

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The report, “The Gen Xperience: A 5-Year Journey into the Lives of Generation X,” uncovered notable differences between Gen X and the boomer generation regarding the lifestyles, attitudes and interests of the cohort sometimes referred to as the “MTV Generation.” Researchers surveyed more than 2,500 members of the Gen. X and baby boomer generations in May and July of last year, respectively, and compared their answers for the survey.

What they found is that Generation X has more concerns about their finances, cognitive decline and social isolation, according to the findings. But they share similar interests as the baby boomers in seeking a senior living experience geared toward wellness, lifestyle and more choices.

“We’re looking at this study in terms of how we might enhance our workplace to meet the needs of Gen Xers as well as how we might change the physical design of senior living communities and change programs that we offer in the future to appeal to Gen Xers,” Leary said.

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Survey findings showed that Gen Xers were “notably more stressed” than their baby boomer counterparts in all aspects of life. Gen Xers are also more likely than predecessors to enter their retirement years without children or a spouse.

That shows the need for operators to be flexible and build in support systems for employees, given the number of Gen Xers in the workforce.

Boomers and Gen Xers also shared many similarities. For example, Generation X is also tech-savvy, like the generation that came before them. Gen Xers surveyed also leaned towards a focus on holistic wellness to address “mental health, loneliness, stress and burnout,” the study found.

“The first year results reinforce our initial perception that wellness is very important to Gen Xers and because of their concern of social isolation and cognitive decline, it showed us the importance of implementing programming around mindfulness, meditation and technology that focuses on fitness and wellness,” Leary said.

The Mather Institute found that providers could reach Generation X members by offering financial planning resources; leverage new technology for programming and services; creating holistic wellness programs; implementing strategies to support and attract a more diverse Generation X population; and offering greater availability of flexible work schedules and stress management tools.

“We’re starting to see greater diversity among Boomers and it will be even greater with Gen Xers,” Leary said. “We’ve really been paying attention as to how we can create a more welcoming environment for diverse team members and older adults in our communities.”

The study coincides with the Evanston, Illinois-based provider set to open its latest luxury life plan community, The Mather, in Tysons, Virginia, in the coming weeks.

Mather CEO Mary Leary told Senior Housing News on Tuesday that the community is 90% pre-sold and that two-thirds of those moving in were of the baby boomer and Generation X groups. The community is set to open on March 5 with units ranging between 850 square-feet and 3,300 square-feet with entrance fees ranging between $639,800 and $4.2 million, according to the life plan community’s website.

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