Want to know what the future of senior living will look like? Then take a hint from Warren Buffet.
The Oracle of Omaha didn’t become a mega-billionaire by timing the market. His rationale for refusing to do so: Nobody really knows what tomorrow will bring, especially on Wall Street.
Instead, Buffet focused on investing in solid companies with the potential to punch above their weight class.
I am reminded of Buffet’s approach whenever I read a breathless story about a senior living company’s “new” strategy.
Look, I get it. Trying to build for the future is a must. Innovation and disruption will be required. As will market research and anticipating needs. But none of those things guarantees success. I’ll also be curious to see how these hot new models look after a few rough winters.
For at the end of the day, we are all at best making educated guesses that can easily be converted to folly
Don’t believe me? How did Brookdale’s obviously overdue plan to build a national brand work out? Not that this was an original sin. Back when Golden Living was known as Beverly Enterprises, it once amassed more than 800 nursing homes and had similar intentions. That blew up, too.
Speaking of skilled care, do you ever wonder why such a beleaguered sector continues to remain in business? I don’t. For despite the field’s many challenges, it always has figured out a way to follow the money.
It wasn’t terribly long ago that skilled care essentially was a custodial care enterprise. Now it looks like anything but. In recent decades, skilled care operators have tried their hands at rehab, care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, and ventilator patients, just to name a few expansions.
My hunch is that senior living, by choice or necessity, also will follow new cash-flow opportunities. That may include more intensive healthcare for seniors, new niche services and perhaps serving new demographic targets that have little in common with the aged.
Perhaps a visionary will find the proverbial Rosetta Stone that makes senior care a can’t-lose business. Perhaps that won’t happen.
We don’t know. And if you hear someone claim otherwise, here’s my advice: Look before you leap.