The Freebird Club is a new and intriguing idea — it is Airbnb for older folks. It is built on the notion we need to adjust the rules of travel and engagement for those aged 50+.
The Freebird Club lets people 50 and older host in their homes other people who are 50+ and traveling. The one requirement for hosts of the peer-to-peer social travel and homestay club: they can’t just hand over the keys. They need to be home some of the time their guests are visiting so they can mingle and have fun together.
The Freebird Club isn’t just about helping people 50+ find a place to stay on vacation. It has two greater purposes: 1) providing income for older people who need it and 2) curbing social isolation among older people by letting travelers and their hosts share time together. According to a 2013 National Academy of Sciences study, social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality among people 52 and older.
Neat. And it got me thinking about a Freebird Club for oral healthcare, as a way of adjusting dental services to the unique needs and wants in our aging neighbourhoods.
What might it look like? Here are some ideas.
- First, it can’t be about cheap dentistry, even though our surveys and Facebook feedback are all about how expensive dental care is. Rather, it is about affordability and value (see below).
- Second, it has to be about better oral health. No nagging over brushing and flossing, or blaming the victim about lots of plaque. No videos on implants. The Freebird Club is all about getting better, managing bacteria imbalance in the mouth, reducing oral inflammation.
- Third, Freebirders are visiting your practice because they know the importance of good oral health to overall health. And they want the latest information on these connections to share with their friends and family. What is the latest study on diabetes and gum disease?
- Fourth, Freebirders want a path or a plan to follow which others have recommended. They need an endpoint of assured, affordable care.
If this sounds like a stretch from current marketing efforts such as Invisalign and whitening, it is. But more than half of patients in many dental practices are entering their Freebird years where tastes, preferences and needs change profoundly. That is the primary reason why Canadian seniors visit the dentist far less often than those at middle age.