Many of you out there have been hurt and painfully disillusioned by Brookdale. With over 1,000 communities, the breadth and depth of disappointment is far reaching around the country.

By Kent Mulkey

There. We did it. We jumped on. For some, Brookdale laid you off. For others, Brookdale stock tanked and left you with an empty wallet. For more than a few, Brookdale raised their monthly rates on your mom’s back to the point that you had to move her out. Some were former Emeritus employees who were left out in the cold.  

I know one guy, me, who was walked out the back door when Brookdale came to town and took over the community I was managing. They wanted their “own” people. I didn’t know that Brookdale owned people.

Looking for Answers

There are lots of people across the country, both inside and outside of Brookdale, who are simply trying to get some answers. This is the kind of blather Brookdale occasionally dishes up:

“We are working to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our organization and to align our structure around our residents’ needs and expectations to support our mission of enriching lives. To reach that goal, we are in the process of making some changes that affect not only the business, but our associates.”


Too little? Too late? Perhaps, for some of you. Many of you out there have been hurt and painfully disillusioned by Brookdale. With over 1,000 communities, the breadth and depth of disappointment is far reaching around the country

But ask yourself: does it really feel good to climb on the dog pile to beat down Brookdale?

I don’t know about you, but “there for the grace of God go I.” So what that 10,000 Boomers turn 65 every day. What that means to me is that every day 9,000 more people enter the senior housing market who do not want and will not choose what we offer. It isn’t easy, for any of us.  

Brookdale knows it better that perhaps all of us, and if we were smart perhaps we would be lining up at their door to learn all we can from them. But I digress.

There is a different, perhaps radical and restorative way to view Brookdale, or any other company out there who may be or about to hit tough times, including your own.

In the Face of Uncertainty

Try on a few of these exercises as you face uncertainty:

  1. Research tells us that a key way to quiet fear, judgment and anger is to focus 100% on something positive. Any honest person has questions and concerns about issues in their own company. But, it is likely not difficult to find something positive to focus on. Shift your attention back to this when your thoughts start to turn negative.

  1. Live in the real world by accepting that you simply can’t control everything around you. I have a ton of empathy for folks who work at Brookdale, having to live with a mountain of uncertainty. Accepting reality as it is takes focus and discipline. Be honest with yourself, and hope your company will do the same.

  1. Focus on what really matters. There are some big, hairy decisions that execs and board members are dealing with at Brookdale. But, most decisions that you and I face aren’t that important. The #1 concern in front of me every day is the well-being of the 400 residents on our campus, so I choose to focus on that above all else.

  1. Cheer for the competition. You serious? Yep. When those around me in the competitive market are successful, the odds shoot up that we, too, can be successful. Plus. This approach reflects a true prospect-centered approach to working with seniors and their families, meaning we want what is best for them.

  1. When all else fails, breathe: As much as I may want to cast judgment on Brookdale or feel afraid for the success of my own company, the one thing I am forced to do every day is breathe. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I focus on my breathing, and, yes, it feels weird to even state it here in this article. Perhaps living near Boulder helps.

You can get past Brookdale. Really. Try this…

To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and realize the prisoner was you.