Make your clinic or office the destination for quality of life in patients’ later years with this guide to the importance of senior care for practices
It is projected that by 2034, adults age 65+ in the U.S. will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.1 The issue of aging and the importance of senior care is a present-day concern for all nations across the globe, as resources are increasingly diverted to fulfill the needs of the elderly, especially when it comes to health and medicine.
The importance of senior care and the market for chiropractors
Since 2010, the U.S. 65+ population has continued to see unprecedented growth with the rapid aging of the Baby Boomer generation. By 2050, the 65+ population in the U.S. is expected to top 88.5 million, more than double the number in 2010.2 Older members of the population desire economic independence, dignity and a peaceful death. To ensure their good health, it is important to understand their concerns and needs.
With such sizable numbers of seniors, there is an increased need for specialized care during the late aging process. This “senior care,” as it is termed, includes assisted living, nursing care, adult daycare, home care, and hospice care as medical demands make it difficult for them to live at home or with relatives.3
Common complaints for seniors
Advancing years bring dramatic changes to the human body and mind. Aging populations tend to notice difficulty getting through daily activities of living.
These can manifest as physical problems like movement or gait limitations; loss of sight, hearing, smell or taste; and chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Cognitive problems also manifest, such as memory loss, language use difficulties, or judgment impairment in addition to emotional issues like loneliness, depression, suicidal thoughts or dementia.
When it comes to chiropractic-related care, seniors frequently complain of ailments such as musculoskeletal pain, most often in the lower back. This pain is typically an aggravating problem for which an estimated 5-10% of older adults seek relief through chiropractic care annually.4
What seniors seek in a provider
As people age, their health becomes their biggest preoccupation. Studies suggest that on average, seniors spend 17 days a year in health care settings such as doctors’ offices or labs.5 As a result, seniors seek the best medical care they can find and look for certain stable characteristics in the providers they choose, such as:
- Specialists who take the time to listen.
- Providers who understand seniors’ issues.
- A reliable practice, including after-hours.
- Welcoming atmosphere.
- Conservative, evidence-based treatment.
- Focus on quality of life.5
Face to face
Before treating seniors, providers need to connect with them, physically and emotionally, while making sure attention is undivided. Older patients also tend to have vision and hearing challenges, so sitting face-to-face and maintaining eye contact is critical.
Studies show patient compliance with treatment recommendations is greater after face-to-face encounters with the physician as opposed to online consultations.5 Additionally, while the digital age is commonplace to many generations and seniors enjoy taking part in new technology, seniors tend to prefer meeting in person as they had done when they were younger to form and maintain relationships with their providers.
Marketing to seniors
Seniors are affected less by peer influence and more by practicality and individualism. Although they prefer traditional marketing, a new American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) national survey found that seniors are increasingly drawn to new technology.
For instance, 81% of 60- to 69-year-olds and 62% of 70+ year-olds use smartphones. However, only their privacy concerns prevent them from fully using their devices, as seniors are commonly marketed to in various industries. Multi-channel marketing is a potential benefit to use in marketing chiropractic care to seniors.6
Consider the following multi-channel marketing options:
- A regular newspaper column or blog on chiropractic benefits to seniors
- Local newspaper and magazine ads effective with seniors (it makes more marketing sense to have smaller ads near the front page, than a full-page ad at the back)
- Household information drops
- Discount codes
- Telephone marketing
- Online TV and YouTube videos
Reaching out to senior populations
Chiropractors comprise the largest health service outside the conventional medical system, with records showing over 100 million annual visits for spine conditions. There is considerable opportunity to gain senior patients, helping seniors spend their twilight years in relative comfort so they can enjoy quiet moments, pain-free.8
Planning a trip to a senior facility for a presentation on chiropractic care is likely to earn interest.9 Marketing with different practitioners and integrating care in your office are some sure ways to gain more patients and help seniors.
Attending to nutrition and malnutrition
Malnutrition in seniors is often underdiagnosed, which leads to several other health problems including muscle weakness and a weakened immune system. The main causes of malnutrition in seniors include depression, limited income, dietary restrictions, dementia, medical conditions and alcoholism.
Small changes in diet, for example, a high intake of vegetables and fruits and less consumption of sugars, salt and saturated fat can improve their nutritional status.10
Furthermore, while chiropractors have a good background in general nutrition and supporting their patients in this regard, networking with local nutritionists or registered dietitians can help to open more marketing channels for seniors. Offering your senior patients products such as nutraceuticals, including multivitamins or multiminerals in your practice, can help provide support in this area.
Chiropractors can shine a light on the importance of senior care and can attract senior clients by offering solutions to help mitigate many of the issues that concern them. The holistic approach can help improve strength while assessing natural ways to improve outlooks for disease, injury, nutrition, and even mental and emotional decline.
ANTHONY CRIFASE, DC, CNS, DACBN, LDN, is the director of professional relations of DocShop Pro. He is double board-certified in clinical nutrition and maintains an active chiropractic practice in Denver, Colo. With experience in multiple different industries and as a seasoned chiropractor who understands the ins and outs of practice management, he is on a mission to help other practitioners maximize their time, revenue and systems. Learn more at docshoppro.com.