Welltower CEO Floats ‘Bring Your Parents to Work’ Senior Care Model

by Kourtney Liepelt

What would it mean if the average life expectancy were to increase to 150 years? One change could be that corporations would need to allow employees to bring their elderly parents to work and provide on-site care.

That’s according to Thomas J. DeRosa, CEO and President of Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN), one of the “Big Three” health care real estate investment trusts (REITs) that primarily focus on senior housing.

“It’s very plausible that major corporations will allow you to bring elderly parents to work,” DeRosa said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. “That they’ll set up a day care for people with cognitive or other physical frailties who cannot afford $8,000 a month.”

The discussion titled “What If You Are Still Alive in 2100?” centered on the social, political and economic implications of people living to be 100 years old and beyond, and touched on whether the retirement age needs to change, what governments must do to prepare for an older population and more. Perspectives presented on the panel contribute to a broader debate occurring about extending people’s lifespans and the immediacy of needing to plan for a 100-plus life expectancy.

Others who participated in the discussion alongside DeRosa were Lynda Gratton, a London Business School professor of management; Elizabeth Blackburn, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and Derek Yach, global chief health officer of The Vitality Institute, a research organization dedicated to compiling evidence regarding health promotion and disease prevention.

His idea for elderly day care in the workplace stemmed from the masses of women returning to office environments in the 1970s because on-site child care offerings became more commonplace, DeRosa said. Conglomerates like Google served as an inspiration, he said, as Google has a policy allowing employees to bring their pets to work instead of leaving them alone at home.

“Think about the productivity improvement of not losing these skilled employees [by preventing them from having to leave the workplace to become full-time carers to their parents],” he told Business Insider after the session.

DeRosa is no stranger to throwing out such grand ideas. Late last year, he told Senior Housing News that the days of acute hospital care as we know it may be numbered.

“Technology may allow at some point acute care hospitals to be doing procedures in someone’s home,” he told SHN. “Technology will provide some great leaps in how we deliver acute care, and I don’t think it’s going to be centered on the traditional brick and mortar.”

Aside from the concept of providing office-based caregivers for the elderly, DeRosa stressed the importance of wellness as a means of sustaining an older population.

“We need to be focused on the sustainability of the aging population,” he said. “What is the key? Wellness. We really focus on making wellness a priority for the over 150,000 seniors that live in our communities.”

DeRosa said wellness will remain a Welltower priority in the near term to medium term, with key components being nutrition, safety, mobility and cognition.

“Most adults will say, ‘I want to age in place,’” he said. “We challenge that. It’s very difficult to age in place.”

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