The distinct lifetime experiences of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers have influenced their respective lifestyles, what they value, and their buying behaviors. When developing programming, amenities and services, their differing perspectives should be taken into consideration. Both generations honor and desire wellness; however, each group may use a different approach to achieving it.
WELLNESS FOR THE SILENT GENERATION
The Silent Generation experienced the ramifications of World War II and the emergence of the United States as a global leader. As a result, they tend to be patriotic and stress togetherness for family and friends. They feel most comfortable with the tried and true and may be reticent to embrace change or anything new. They do not like to be dependent on others and value self-reliance. Other values include discipline, self-denial, hard work, authority, conformity, responsibility and financial and social conservatism (Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, “Marketing to the Generations” by K. C. Williams and R. A. Page). These characteristics should be considered when designing, implementing and marketing your organization’s wellness program.
As a result of these characteristics, this group enjoys group classes with traditional forms of exercise such as low-impact aerobics, yoga, use of stationary equipment, swimming, walking and golfing. The Silents may be resistant to newer forms of fitness such as Zumba, Jazzercise or Tai Chai, but you may discover a few early adopters in this crowd. Most of these residents simply enjoy an exercise routine offered as part of a class, but a few, who have previously had such a luxury, will desire the services of a personal trainer. Remember that discipline is one of their values so they tend to be loyal class participants. Additionally, diet is an important element of their wellness regimen. Always be sure to serve foods low in fat/sugar/salt/cholesterol in the dining room and at events to complement their fitness programs.
The Silent Generation honors their religious belief systems so spirituality must be a part of the wellness program. Most people within this generation are a part of one of the traditional Judeo-Christian sects: protestant, Catholic or Jewish. In response to this, many communities host interdenominational services. When on-campus services do not satisfy resident requests, transportation to special services should be arranged.
This generation is tough and often does not respond to the “touchy feely” approach. Remember that they consider themselves self-reliant and may be resistant to any formalized emotional support; however, they are quick to join grief support groups when available.
Even these self-reliant individuals crave socialization. They experienced great support from friends in close-knit neighborhoods, and most enjoyed the love and support of close family. Most Silents crave and thoroughly enjoy social engagement. The wellness program should provide for campus-organized opportunities such as bridge, happy hours, and block parties. Additionally, Life Enrichment staff should be available to encourage and facilitate personal arrangements such as individual bridge groups, luncheons and other events organized by the residents themselves.
Some, but not all members of the Silent Generation have at least a few years of college. When planning intellectually stimulating events such as guest speakers or educational series, the planner should be cognizant that many of these people are sensitive to not having completed a degree. However, this group embraces the importance of keeping in touch with the world’s events and enjoys opportunities to lean more to stay informed.
The Silents precede the emphasis on “staying green, “the carbon footprint,” and recycling, but many in this group are early adopters of such concepts. Since many communities are required to recycle, it is often helpful to educate the Silents about how to recycle and why it is important. Even if only a few of the Silent residents are “green,” all have a healthy respect for nature. Many enjoy walks or the simple act of watching birds flock to the birdfeeders. Connecting them with nature though activities or the provision of a community garden will foster a sense a balance with nature.
The Silent Generation were serious workers when they were in the workforce. They often remained at one company for decades before retiring. A strong work ethic was and is important to this group. Therefore, it can be a terrific loss to those who left powerful positions or jobs with which they identified for years. A senior living community can foster a sense of personal worth for individual residents by inclusion of residents on boards or ad hoc committees; using residents as volunteers in care levels; using residents as activity facilitators in the life enrichment program or other meaningful roles. Communities can utilize men and women who have particular craft skills. Woodworkers can augment furniture needs, and knitters can knit afghans for amputees.
The Silents are quiet but proud. They like tradition and regularity. However, not all Silents are the same. Be sure to program for the traditional Silent while also including some more progressive ideas for the brave early adopters.
Next week, we will explore wellness programming for the emerging Boomers.
Read our prior blog entries related to this topic:
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About the Author
Patty Scotten is a consultant with Retirement DYNAMICS® and serves as their marketing manager. Patty has over twenty five years’ experience in the senior living industry and has led several communities in preselling expansions or increasing occupancy levels. She graduated from Elon University and holds a Masters Degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patty is licensed as both an assisted living and nursing home administrator.