Senior-Proof Your Health and Wealth

Kristin Orman By Kristin Orman, Research Analyst, The Oxford Club

Dividend Investing

Baby-proofing is big business. New parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars making their homes safe for their new bundles of joy.

But due to a declining birthrate, the baby product market is not growing like it used to. Some companies have shifted their focus and created a new home safety market.

They call it “senior proofing.”

And it is poised to become big business for both the health and wealth of seniors and investors alike.

Staying at Home

“Aging in place” has become the rallying cry of America’s baby boomers. Unlike their parents before them, the majority do not expect retirement to include a move to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Hey, the Woodstock generation has always cherished its rebellious reputation.

For most, staying in their homes makes sense. More than 78% of Americans over 65 years old own their homes. Most of them want to stay there.

But eventually they will need help.

Preparing for the inevitable decline in mobility, many baby boomers are taking a proactive approach: They are senior-proofing their homes.

An entirely new industry catering to their needs is on the rise.

Senior-proofing involves modifying an existing home to make it safer and easier for those with limited mobility to maintain their independence. Examples include removing rugs and other items that are tripping hazards, moving dishes to lower cabinets so they are easier to reach, and removing furniture from narrow walkways.

My dad often calls steps like these “common sense and logic.” It’s hard to argue against taking simple steps to help ourselves out in our late 70s and 80s.

More advanced senior-proofing includes bathroom handrails, electric stair chairlifts, walk-in tubs and medication management. Extensive home modifications like these are where the real money is.

Medical manufacturers and distributers, as well as technology companies, are taking notice.

Cashing In on Homebodies

With 40,000 products, Cardinal Health’s (NYSE: CAH) home healthcare division is one of the largest suppliers of home health aids. From bathroom safety accessories to walkers and canes, Cardinal is one of the largest manufacturers of medical supplies designed to keep people safe in their homes.

While home healthcare products are certainly not Cardinal Health’s largest segment, they have been an area of significant investment. In 2013, the company greatly expanded its presence in home healthcare with its purchase of AssuraMed for more than $2 billion.

It looks to be paying off. The company announced last month that home health revenue grew by double digits last quarter.

More and more companies are recognizing the need as well as the potential profits associated with helping to keep our aging population as independent as possible. It is a big market. Why not make money on both sides?

All of us, myself included, will have to deal with declining physical capabilities. It’s part of life. But planning is a great way to ensure we stay independent as long as possible.

Why not profit from it?

Take a look at the companies set to capitalize from this booming trend.

Good investing,