Older adults process information slower than younger adults. This is significant to your retirement community’s ability to market, sell and service your target market. A look at the two sides of the brain may help you understand why.
Research into the two hemispheres of the brain has yielded hard facts about how we process information. The left brain is associated with reasoning function and the right brain with creative functions. While the left brain plays the primary role in processing visual image, as we grow older, we tend to move from a left brain to a right brain orientation. What does that mean?
It means that a 30-year-old processes information differently than a 55-year-old, or an 80-year-old. With age, we no longer can process information as accurately or completely as we used to. Along with the decline, older adults tend to become more right-brain oriented. It is more effective to explain sales concepts using pictures, story-telling, and emotionally-enriched words.
Comprehension can be made easier, faster, and less fatiguing by facilitating the use of sensory processing which occurs in the right brain. Memory is sensory, not analytical. It occurs in the right brain in the form of images, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. It does not occur in the left brain as whole thoughts. By communicating with the right brain, the speaker can directly tap the listener’s memory.
Communications generally require the use of images as opposed to the other four senses. Images may be visual in the form of illustrations, graphs, and so forth. More often they are “word images” – words that substitute for pictures. At the most basic level these are phrases like “cloudy day” and “green hills.” We can “see” the picture in our mind’s eye. More generally, they are literary devices, including similes, metaphors, analogies, word-pictures, and story-telling.
Those devices are used to describe and explain unfamiliar concepts in ways that make them part of the listener’s prior life experience. The information is stored on the right side of the brain for easy recall through sensory processing.
From our work with clients, we have developed four tips for substituting right brain for left brain communications:
Build a library of visual images that express concepts you need to communicate to older adults.
Use imagery relating to things they already know. Older adults recall previous events, happenings and objects more easily by visual recall.
Describe the benefits of your community using metaphors, similes and analogies. Develop word-pictures that recall the past or stories about how your current residents benefitted by locating at your retirement community.
Tell stories, relevant ones that touch emotion. Modern brain research shows that story telling increases the flow of adrenaline in the brain and helps us store and recall information more easily.