Like the fireworks that cap off a Fourth of July celebration, the observance of Older Americans Month culminates with a finale on the final Wednesday of May, otherwise known as National Senior Health & Fitness Day®. This year’s theme is “With Movement… There’s Improvement.”
There are plenty of signs that seniors are staying more active. Just last year, the Huffington Post included fitness programs for older adults in its Top 10 Fitness Trends list. Moreover, according to Accenture data, reports Forbes, 17 percent of Americans over the age of 65 use wearables to track how many steps they walk or vital signs such as heart rate—which is only 3 percent fewer than under age 65 Americans.
In addition, Accenture research also reveals that 48 percent of seniors would be willing to use wearables versus 47 percent of their younger cohorts. Dr. Kaveh Safavi, senior managing director of Accenture’s health practice, points out: “This preconceived notion that all things technology scare older people isn't true. Whether it's use of an app or devices, they are willing to use them.” In fact, we addressed the myth of senior ‘tech-phobia’ on this blog just a few weeks ago.
Inspiring Active Lifestyles for Seniors
Americans are living longer, but seniors often contend with one or more chronic diseases. Considered in tandem, these facts emphasize the need for hospitals, health systems and other healthcare providers to encourage seniors to become more active. First, they need to answer two questions:
- How do you know which seniors are most likely to embrace an active lifestyle?
- How do you get those that are less likely to get or stay active more engaged?
Psychographic segmentation can help. Let’s take a deeper look at c2b solutions’ data on the psychographic segments of seniors.
The 5 Psychographic Segments
Among 65 to 74-year-olds:
- 16 percent are Balance Seekers. Proactive with their health and wellness-oriented, Balance Seekers are self-directed and research many sources, not just physician advice.
- 19 percent are Willful Endurers. The least engaged segment when it comes to their health and wellness, Willful Endurers generally avoid going to the doctor unless they absolutely must. Willful Endurers live for the moment.
- 18 percent are Priority Jugglers. Reactive with their personal health, Priority Jugglers will make sure their loved ones get the care they need. Priority Jugglers are about dedication, commitment and sacrifice to others.
- 24 percent are Self Achievers. The most proactive and wellness-oriented segment, Self Achievers focus on goals, measures and progress. Self Achievers prioritize physician advice over other sources of health information.
- 22 percent are Direction Takers. Reactive with their health but high utilizers of the healthcare system, Direction Takers seek directive guidance from healthcare professionals. Direction Takers are less likely to take preventive steps and need habit changes to fit easily into their daily routine.
Among those older than 74 years of age:
- Percentages across the Balance Seeker, Willful Endurer and Direction Taker segments decline slightly;
- The Priority Juggler segment gains a single percentage point; and
- The Self Achiever segment jumps to 31 percent.
Focusing in on c2b Consumer Diagnostic data related to seniors with Medicare (managed or standard), we’re able to look more closely at physical activity among these older healthcare consumers. Here’s what their responses reveal.
- “I Get Enough Exercise.” Interestingly, 40 percent of both Willful Endurers and Self Achievers either Agree or Strongly Agree with the statement, despite being diametrically opposed in their general approaches to health and wellness. Only Direction Takers showed statistically significant variation among all other segments, with 23 percent agreement. Given that Direction Takers want to follow a physician’s advice but often struggle to do so, offering guidance on easy-to-incorporate exercises and building up activity levels slowly could help move the needle on their activity levels. Note: even 60 percent of Self Achievers, the most proactive segment, needs encouragement to maintain healthy activity.
- Frequency of Exercise. Willful Endurers may say they get enough exercise, but their responses about how often they actually exercise, play sports or undertake physical activity requiring significant exertion suggest that may not be the case. At the high end of exercise frequency, for example, 19 percent of Willful Endurers exercise three to four days a week; at the low end, 16 percent said they never exercise, a statistically significant variation from Self Achievers. Only Direction Takers were more likely than Willful Endurers to report never exercising.
- “I Consider Myself a ‘Couch Potato.’” If you guessed that Willful Endurers and Direction Takers are most likely to self-identify with the couch potato label, you’d be right. In fact, 35 and 33 percent of Willful Endurers and Direction Takers, respectively, agreed with this statement, varying considerably from the other three segments. At the other end of the spectrum, 58 percent of Balance Seekers, 60 percent of Priority Jugglers and 62 percent of Self-Achievers disagreed with a couch potato label—although perhaps not for the same reasons. Priority Jugglers, for example, are fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of exercise frequency, so it’s likely they’re staying busy in other ways, but it’s not with Netflix binging.
Armed with the insights from psychographic segmentation, healthcare providers can develop more engaging, targeted efforts to get their senior patients moving—and not just on the last Wednesday of May.