I read an article recently on how the good old days of broadcast television are behind us. You remember those days, when 50 million Americans would revel in the wise, humorous shenanigans of Bill Cosby or marvel at the speeding trundles and flying chairs of ER. These days the broadcast networks are happy to attract less than half that now, according to the article.
So where did the audience go? They went to the Internet, to iPods, to video games, to cable TV shows across the spectrum: cooking, wrassling, mixed martial arts, animals (domestic and wild), truck drivers and loggers working hard, congressmen bloviating, the weather—if you have a special interest, there's a channel for you. Oh yes, there are some pretty good limited run comedies and dramas, too, all at the click of a remote.
So why should long-term care be any different? In this month's “Environments for Aging” section, Executive Editor Maureen Hrehocik joins George Mason University Assistant Professor Andrew J. Carle in exploring the new phenomenon of “niche” facilities. Only within the past few years have facilities emerged dedicated to serving very specific populations—university alumni; gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender; ethnic groups (e.g., Native Americans and Asians); even the recreational vehicle set and the ultimate in niche long-term living: oceangoing cruise residents whose supportive accommodations accompany them all over the world.
Carle maintains that these niche markets make good business sense due to the sheer numbers and variety of leading-edge boomers and their immediate forebears. There are enough of them to make serving special populations feasible economically. Culturally, though, is such “disintegration” a good thing? It would be nice if we could all “just live together,” as the saying goes, and maybe someday (in a better world) we really will. But for now, people have individual needs and desires and a chance to have them addressed specifically. The above-mentioned article concludes on a worried note: Absorbed in our own niches, what are we going to talk about around the water cooler? Well, maybe we'll be more comfortable in our lives while at the same time learning and teaching others something new.
Speaking of individualization, read this month's cover feature “Empower with choice” (p. 30). It's our 2008 OPTIMA Award winner and, reading it, you'll see why. And our thanks to the OPTIMA Award judges who devoted time and effort to evaluating and scoring all our entries: Ian Cordes, President, Corecare Associates; Daniel W. Farley, PhD, President/CEO Glenwood Park Retirement Community; Susan Gilster, PhD, NHA, Founder, Alois Alzheimer Center; Karna Rhodes, Administrator, St. John's Lutheran Home; and Victor Lane Rose, MBA, NHA, Director of Operations, Souderton Mennonite House. And, as always, great thanks to Glen Duncan, who has administered the OPTIMA Award since its inception.
Richard L. Peck, Editor-in-Chief
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Long-Term Living 2008 September;57(9):10