A not-for-profit CCRC provider that proudly proclaims to provide luxury-style senior living as a not-for-profit organization . . . are you kidding me?

By Steve Moran

I want to start by saying I am feeling not very rational about this article and this topic. On one hand there are a lot of amazing not-for-profit owned and operated senior living organizations that I have nothing but great admiration for . . . and yet . . . well, here is what set me off.

I was recently sent “something” from a not-for-profit CCRC provider that proudly proclaimed they provide luxury style senior living as a not-for-profit organization. This thing I received then went on to describe how because they were not-for-profit, they have more financial resources to provide a quality luxury lifestyle for residents.  

I confess, this drove me nuts!

As I understand it, the reason we have not-for-profit organizations is to create entities that can engage in activities that benefit individuals with real needs. What this particular organization is doing is using the not-for-profit status to further benefit well-heeled seniors. In effect, it means that your tax dollars and my tax dollars are effectively subsidizing the care of residents who can afford to pay for their own care and that is, in my view, just not right.

The Loophole

The loophole this organization uses is that they promise not to evict someone who lives longer than their assets and income can sustain them. This is all well and good, but it is pretty easy to avoid having to pay much with good financial qualification criteria (part of good fiscal management for every senior living community).

I am not sure this is or should be good enough.

Not-For-Profit Senior Living — Done Right

Legitimate not-for-profit senior living can be done appropriately by many, likely even most not-for-profit senior living organizations, in many different ways. Here are some:

  1. There are some senior living organizations that focus exclusively on providing low- and middle-income options that serve individuals who otherwise would not be served. This really is the best reason to exist.

  2. There are some senior living communities that have a mix of high-end senior living options, along with low- and middle-income options, so that, in effect, the luxury senior living makes it possible to serve low-income residents.

  3. There are senior living communities that have a high commitment to using their extra financial resources to make the industry better. For instance, this might mean they become incubators for our next generation of leaders.  

  4. There are some not-for-profit providers who take on other experimental projects in an effort to improve the quality of life for residents and team members. We are seeing a number of communities that are testing various technology offerings that fit this category.

  5. Some not-for-profits are religious or affinity-based communities and the not-for-profit status is really the only way for these communities to exist.  

A Huge Risk

The number of not-for-profit organizations has exploded over the last couple of decades and too many of them act more like for-profit organizations than charitable enterprises. Specifically, Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa has put a lot of pressure on the hospital industry to stop this abuse. Senior living could easily become his next target.

Not-for-profit senior living is an important piece of the senior living sector that does so much good for seniors, the industry and team members. It would be a shame for them to become a target because a few operators are taking unfair advantage of the system.


I reached out to LeadingAge and to the organization that “inspired” this article asking for a response and received this from LeadingAge:

LeadingAge members serve a wide range of older adults in an equally wide range of senior living communities. However, they all share one attribute: a dedication to helping people grow old with dignity and respect regardless of cultural, ethnic, educational, or socioeconomic backgrounds. They are committed to caring for residents and their families, engaging with their communities, and looking at opportunities to improve the aging experience for all.

We encourage our members who serve higher socio-economic adults to be stewards for all aging adults within their own communities, outside of their walls, and across the aging services field and to extend their missions to help those in need.

I got nothing from the organization that “inspired” this article.