By Jack Cumming
Like the cavalry, vaccinations have come to our rescue. The long, dark winter of the pandemic is drawing toward its close. The CDC is cautious. The ravages continue. The losses overwhelm us. The science is positive. The season of gladness lies ahead. The time of celebration is close at hand. We can congratulate ourselves. We are emerging into the warmth of renewed purpose.
Why We Matter
In senior living, our purpose is simple. We dedicate ourselves to lifting others, and we lift ourselves in the process. The pandemic tested us, and senior living surpassed all reasonable expectations. We have cared for the most vulnerable – COVID targeted the oldest with unsurpassed viral ageism – and we, the senior living industry, rose to the challenge. We can stand tall and proud knowing the care, the concern, the support that our industry has given to those we care for.
That’s a cause for celebration, but there’s more. People are not only living longer. They are also living better. More and more people come into residence not because they need care now, immediately, but because they want to be prepared just in case. Those who care for the age-afflicted from an earlier generation can look forward to avoiding those afflictions for themselves.
Should We Worry?
We are entering a new era. Assisted living is an undertaking that will always be with us. Still, the average age of customers has been rising as the length of their stay has been shortening. Fewer and fewer have the needs assisted living responds to. That is a triumph of our time that calls for celebration.
The revolution that is now underway is not unlike that of the dentists who seemed to have researched themselves out of a job. In my youth, we regularly had our cavities filled. Today, people seldom have cavities. Dentistry, both clinical and research, has advanced so that dental health is today a cornerstone of overall health and well-being. Fluoridization coupled with regular homecare has changed the profession for all time. Dentistry has reinvented itself. People my age once all had false teeth. I have none. That’s a triumph worth rejoicing. The revolution in old age vitality is no less a cause for celebration.
Our Bright Future
The pandemic has changed us forever. We will not just go back to pre-virus normality. We have learned from being tested in the crucible of this past year. We have sharpened our skills and refined our capabilities. Senior living is emerging from the pandemic better than ever. More attuned to the residents we serve and positioned to transition to the expectations of future generations. Senior living is a stronger, more people-centric industry than it might have been, or could have been, without this test of our mettle.
We all want to be proud of ourselves. Staff want to be proud of where they work. Residents want to be proud of where they live. Boards want to be proud of the organizations they guide. We can give people that pride of place and function. The pandemic has shown us what we can do. We are turning senior living into that dream of a life that is better than people can find elsewhere. That, too, is cause for celebration.
There is joy for everyone in senior living’s fresh bright dawn. Let us echo those happy words of Winston Churchill as on May 8, 1945 he announced the end of the War in Europe: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead.” Now we see the end at hand. Now we can rejoice. We have honed our vision. We know what must be done. Let’s celebrate the end of COVID and the beginning of our new era of hope and service.