Three things you need to know:
- The 65+ population is the fastest growing age group in the U.S. By 2030, one in five people will be at least age 65;
- As the population grows older, there is a heightened need for affordable plumbing and HVACR systems that offer safety and accessibility; and
- Given the ongoing skilled labor shortage, and many plumbing and HVACR businesses like yours giving back to your communities, you should invite students to witness firsthand the strong connection between your company and charitable efforts.
Mark Twain once quipped, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” However, when it comes to plumbing and HVACR systems, age indeed matters. With each passing year as individuals grow older, their physical abilities decline. This reality necessitates greater reliance on the plumbing and HVACR industries to ensure the comfort and well-being of our aging communities, which are seeing greater longevity, but for many, deteriorating financial means.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) projects in its report, Demographics of an Aging America, that “because older age groups will be growing more rapidly than younger age groups, their share of the overall population will also increase sharply.” By 2030, one in five people will be at least age 65; and at the same time, one in eight people will be at least age 75 by 2040.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2021 that “the 65+ group was the fastest growing between 2010 and 2021 with its population increasing 38%. The 0 to 4 age group declined the most, dropping 6.7% between 2010 and 2021.” Parenthetically, “the Hispanic/Latino population had the most growth increasing by 11.9 million from 50.7 million in 2010 to 62.6 million in 2021.”
The JCHS noted in its report, that “about one in four adults aged 50 and over has difficulty with hearing, vision, cognition or mobility; [and] by age 85, that share is greater than two in three (68%).” The top five ailments commonly seen in the 55+ and aging population include arthritis causing joint pain, stiffness and decreased mobility; hypertension that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke; diabetes due to lifestyle factors and reduced insulin sensitivity; cardiovascular diseases often linked to factors such as high cholesterol, obesity and sedentary lifestyle; and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, which affect cognitive functions, memory and behavior. Though these ailments are prevalent, lifestyle modifications and preventive measures can help manage their impact on an aging population.
With an aging population, the plumbing and HVACR industry faces both challenges and opportunities to adapt to the nuanced needs of 55+ and elderly communities. As the population grows older, there is a heightened need for affordable plumbing and HVACR systems that offer safety and accessibility. Bathrooms equipped with grab bars, walk-in tubs and elevated toilets become imperative, ensuring utmost comfort, and minimizing accidents. As age becomes an adversary to the body's ability to regulate its temperature, air conditioning and heating systems ought to provide controlled temperatures that mitigate the frailty of the elderly, and aid in their well-being, comfort and safety.
Jennifer Molinsky (2017) with the JCHS, projected in her 2017 report, Four Challenges to Aging in Place, that “by 2035, 17.1 million older households will be housing cost-burdened, and 8.5 million of these households will be spending more than 50% of their income on housing” and rising health care costs.
As aging folks transition into their golden years, the demand for plumbing and HVACR services necessarily increases with the gradual deterioration of pipes and HVACR equipment, in part because of decreased user mobility and physical limitations, and economic insecurity. These realities lead to the need for regular system monitoring for repairs and replacements. As with life itself, this responsibility requires adaptability, knowledge and dedication to facilitate cost-effective comfort and safety solutions for those who may be suffering from increased health care and housing costs, lower retirement savings and increased reliance on primary fixed income from social security. Consumer prices increased between August 2015 and 2019 by 85 percentage points compared to 213 percentage points between August 2019 and 2023. There are also higher rates of isolation (particularly once they stop driving).
Older Americans feeling more isolated is not a small concern, especially in rural and low-density areas. The need for connectedness and engagement by an older population represents an opportunity for contractors who adopt a corporate ‘culture of care’. The JCHS noted that “there are… ways to capitalize on a localized population of older adults to deliver services, through organizations like “villages” or those that serve naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), such as large apartment complexes that are home to significant numbers of older people”.
Bathrooms equipped with grab bars, walk-in tubs and elevated toilets become imperative, ensuring utmost comfort, and minimizing accidents. As age becomes an adversary to the body's ability to regulate its temperature, air conditioning and heating systems ought to provide controlled temperatures that mitigate the frailty of the elderly, and aid in their well-being, comfort and safety.
P-H-C contractors can increase elderly consumer engagement by providing courtesy services through regular virtual or face-to-face ‘check-ins’ to inspect their water and HVACR systems, leak detection devices, smart technology, and regularly recommend maintenance, upgrades and/or retrofits that may also come with recent government rebates or product discounts. Tangentially, according to p-h-c contractors, prospect leads are mostly generated by word-of-mouth amongst satisfied customers.
American novelist Edna Ferber once said that “Age is a stubborn accomplice,” but with resourcefulness and ingenuity, our plumbing and HVACR professionals represent a critical industry segment in which its partnership with our increasingly isolated aging population is not only an honorable pursuit, but a vital means for the health, safety and welfare of a growing cohort of consumers.
By the way, given the ongoing skilled labor shortage, and many plumbing and HVACR businesses like yours giving back to your communities, you should invite students to witness firsthand the strong connection between your company and charities, service organizations and other foundations that highlight your company’s community involvement. High school students who prefer to volunteer their summer hours will find an amazing opportunity through your charitable efforts while learning new skills that they can describe on their college application or dare I say, an apprenticeship application?!