Come move in our community for Bingo, Bible Study and Birthday Celebrations with some ADLS thrown in for good measure.
It is so easy to do.
and . . .so hard to avoid the devaluing of seniors. At the most basic level we largely do it in our own lives fighting the aging process, the aging look, in truth the aging everything. It is no wonder that this mentality flows into the senior living environment. 5 Examples: 1. Cruise Ship/Luxury Hotel Living: – Several weeks ago I was touring a great, high end senior living community; one of those kinds of communities I love writing about and where I don’t hesitate to name the community. At the end of the tour the person showing me around ended the tour with this: “That’s it, we are really proud of what we are doing . . . you might think of it as like living on a cruise ship.” I cringed internally and hope it didn’t show on my face. Don’t get me wrong, I have done a handful of cruises and it was great. Once I even stayed in a Four Seasons Hotel and it was cool but a bit creepy when they picked up my dirty underwear and socks from the bathroom floor after I had to do a quick change. These were great experiences but I promise you I would never, ever want to live the rest of my life in that environment. I would go so far as to tell you it would be like being in a prison. My mind and my body would atrophy. There would be no reason for me to exist. We have an inborn need to contribute to society, to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives. A cruise ship is just the opposite of that. Just what you want for a relaxing vacation, but not a lifestyle. 2. We Train Our Residents to Make Our Lives Easier – Recently I interviewed David Koelling of Strategic Dining (a Senior Housing Forum Partner) about creating restaurant style dining in senior living. One of the points he made is that in little ways over time we train residents to order and consume food in ways that make it easier to serve food in volume but diminishes the “restaurant like” experience and leads to less healthy eating habits. It was subtle but real and something I had never noticed or thought about before he mentioned it. We do this in lots way, large and small, like bathing schedules, activity calendars, meal times, transportation arrangements . . . . this list goes on. 3. We live in and are regulated by a “checklist” system. – There are certain things that need to be done every day and every week. In all of life because of time pressures, societal expectations, legal requirements and the complexity of life we absolutely need checklists to keep us on track. The problem with checklists is that they become minimum and maximum standards. This means once we have done enough to check off a particular box we are done. Without deliberate purposeful effort we end up serving the checklist and not the resident. 4. Bible, Bingo & Birthdays – Ok . . . life enrichment programs are not that trite and simplistic, but if we are honest about how our activities programs run, they are mostly focused on routine activities that are more designed to “while away” time than to actually create opportunities for growth or service. 5. Only For Old People – We who are in the industry want to avoid living in a senior living community as long as possible. We bemoan the reality that the average age in assisted living specifically and senior living in general has increased. It is no wonder: we are continually saying “Come move in our community for Bingo, Bible Study and Birthday Celebrations with some ADLS thrown in for good measure”. Senior Living Think Tank Today I am like the rest of the country. I AM NOT MOVING INTO A SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY UNTIL I HAVE TO. And yet maybe if someone built a senior living community that served as a Think Tank dedicated to making this world, and my local community a better place, a Senior Living community where I was needed for something more than paying salaries and making a profit for the owners, I would want to move in at age 65 or 70, knowing that it was time to start really putting my wisdom and experience to use in making the world a better place. We as an industry talk a lot about how we are only servicing a tiny fraction of the total potential senior marketplace, searching for ways to improve that trend. Steve Moran
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