John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor
John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Any Star Trek fans in the house? Good, then I won’t have to explain the Vulcan salute.

Then again, perhaps a brief description wouldn’t hurt.

For all you non-Trekkies: The salute is a hand gesture used by Vulcans (a fictional extraterrestrial humanoid species). It involves holding the palm of one hand outwards while separating the ring and middle fingers to form a “V” shape. More important than its execution is its meaning: “Live long and prosper.”

As it happens, that is exactly what increasing numbers of your prospects hope to do in their retirement years, according to a new survey of more than 11,000 people from Age Wave and Edward Jones.

Rather than fearing the decrepitude that often accompanies aging, nearly seven in 10 respondents said they hope to reach age 100. One reason may be that they generally view retirement as a “new chapter in life.”

Among the centenarian hopefuls, many want the bonus time so they can spend more years with family and friends (35%), they are enjoying life and want to continue doing so (23%), they are curious about the future (19%) and there is so much more they want to do (18%). Only 6% said they wanted to live longer because they fear death.

“This is definitely not their parents’ or grandparents’ retirement,” said Ken Cella, principal, branch development, at Edward Jones. At the same time, many budding and established retirees face new challenges, especially around their finances.

Which brings us to the “prosper” part of the salute. More than six in 10 survey respondents indicated they’ll likely be working in some capacity later in life, whether full-time, part-time or toggling between the two.

These findings would appear to offer a lesson or two for senior living operators. Namely, if you deliver an option that complements these two desires, you might have to familiarize your staff with the waiting list concept.

That’s not to say the requisite adjustments will be quick or easy to implement. Change seldom is. Especially if you’d like to boldly go where no operator has gone before.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.

Related Articles