By Steve Moran

Long ago in a land far away, I had a chance to sit and talk with a group of residents in an independent living community. I was…

  • Inspired
  • Infuriated
  • In tears

Minimal details to protect the guilty.

This upscale independent living community has been open about a year and was stuck at around 25% occupancy. The residents love their fellow residents, love the building, sort of are frustrated with leadership (though not nearly as frustrated as they should be, in my view.)

What They Thought Should Be Done

One of my biggest frustrations is when people are critical but offer no constructive solutions and/or are not willing to get their hands dirty and do something. That does not apply to these residents. What they wanted, what they suggested, what they dreamed of doing was to have the executive director and sales leaders form a marketing committee with residents as members.

It Is Mind-Boggling

A bunch of residents, who are paying well over $5,000 a month to live in this struggling, upscale senior living community — people who worked hard enough and smart enough to be able to pay the rent at this community  — are then willing to volunteer their time, energy, and wisdom to help the for-profit owner of the community go from hemorrhaging tens of thousands of dollars a month to making tens of thousands of dollars a month.

Their Why

These residents want to do this because they want the living experience to be better for themselves and other residents. They want to not have to move again. More than anything, though, they want to make a difference, to have purpose.

The Community Response

This is the depressing part!

The community is completely uninterested. They see it as an intrusion into something that is none of the residents’ business, which of course is completely wrong. It is the ultimate form of ageism by people who should be the least ageist in the world. They simply see these residents as people who are past their prime, who have no good ideas, who only have value as a source of cash.

Is it too harsh to say this view is obscene? 

What Gets Missed

What gets missed is that the community has become this massive demotivator. Why should these residents do anything to help get the building full? They have been told they are simply customers, not a community of people living life together. They have zero motivation to help, zero motivation to invite their friends to move in.

This is nuts!