By Jack Cumming

Senior living strives to be smart living for older Americans. We’ve even suggested that the product offering be refined so that it can become “better living” for all Americans. There’s no reason why intergenerational living can’t be adapted to be suitable for people of all ages, even the oldest of the old. In some architectural circles, that’s already called universal design.

Beyond Design

It doesn’t have to stop with design. Yes, wide doorways and fall-resistant, wheelchair-safe showers are important features that can be incorporated into dwellings for all ages, but there’s more to it than that. People of all ages can be stricken, but the chances of disability dependence escalate exponentially at very advanced ages. That means that residence for all should include ready access to care services as needed.

Let’s decouple those care services, however, from the taint that they apply solely to elderly people. For starters, children need care, especially when they’re sick. Employers generally have not adapted our workplaces for the two-earner family structure, and childcare is central to that myopia. Beyond that, though, there are needs for people who are paraplegic and quadriplegic, which can manifest themselves at any age.

Beyond the Obvious

From this, it seems clear that better living should not be age-restricted unless it occurs naturally by those who choose to live in clusters. It should also include access to natural care services as they are needed and when they are needed. These are themes that are beginning to cause a rethinking of today’s senior living. Ryan Frederick of Smart Living 360 is one of those who have an open mind for new ideas, even as he consults with the industry as it now exists and as it is becoming.

Ryan believes that place is central to a sense of fulfillment and well-being. He’s just developed and released what he calls Right Place, Right Time Assessment. It’s a tool to help people assess their own satisfaction with their current living situation. That can then serve as a spur to help them relocate and reposition themselves to find greater life satisfaction. He puts forward the question, “Are you in the right place for a long, healthy, and financially secure life?” This can be a tool that might help people decide to come to your community. It can also be reverse engineered to help you tweak your community’s offerings to ensure that it does offer such a “right place.”

Beyond the Sale

There is nothing more disruptive to a community than a resident who has been enticed into moving in by skillful sales and marketing only to discover after move-in that all is not what was expected. A tool like this can be fine-tuned to help ensure that residents don’t encounter such reputation-staining disappointments, especially now in the age of social media. The Smart Living 360 Assessment tool covers five dimensions of life: place, purpose, social connection, physical well-being, and financial well-being.

We are at our best when we focus on the well-being of others and when we commit ourselves and our enterprises to that service mission. The record of history shows that those businesses thrive that put people before profit. Paradoxically, profit follows people. The future belongs to innovation beyond complacency and better living for all. Bless these industry leaders for all you are doing to envision the future and to bring that vision into reality.