My 85 year old fathers take on two senior living communities.

As you might expect, my father is a big fan of Senior Housing Forum (he has to be, right?). We were chatting a few weeks ago and he said that he would be interested in coming along on one or more of my site visits, so I took him up on the offer.

Some background on my Dad: 

He is 85 years old, a retired emergency room doc and lives in the rural foothills east of Sacramento.  He leads an incredibly active life, but has slowed down a bit.  His biggest and most frustrating limitation is that he has lost a great deal of his hearing, while one on one conversation in a quiet place still works well, if there is any background noise his ability to have a conversation goes essentially to zero.  He would not describe himself as ready for senior living at this point.

This past Thursday I made a list of three communities for us to visit.  We only made it to two of them. 

Here are his reflections:

On my suggestion, Steve, invited me to go along on one of his occasional exploratory visits to senior care communities

The first place we visited had a very nice looking entrance and building, but that was as far as we got.

The lady at the front desk was quite cordial, but she told us the management personnel were in conference and couldn’t be interrupted.  When I asked if I said I was an interested client, could they see us, she said she would call someone from the meeting.

Although I assume many, if not most, people in Senior Care management positions are aware of Steve’s SHF blog, someone at the reception desk is much less likely to know anything about it, or how widely it is read.  So, I don’t really fault her for shining us on a bit.

The second community had a very attentive staff at the front desk. The receptionist immediately got the Marketing Director who took us to a quiet area where we could talk.  She was very open about the community and how she loves her job and gets to know many of the residents.  During the hour she spent with us, we got a tour of the public areas and a couple of the individual units.

Regarding my question about the availability of wi-fi, she said “not yet, but a computer terminal is available to the residents, though rarely used.” It is likely that the next generation of seniors will be far more interested in internet access.

It was an interesting few hours and I would like to try it again sometime.

Don Moran

Both of these buildings are owned by regional chains.  The first one we visited is quite new and the other well established.   The second one, Casa de Santa Fe, was a great experience. They have independent living townhouse-style apartments with one car garages, assisted living and memory care.  They are effectively full and Dyan Clarke, their director of marketing, gave us a great tour that included an offer to stay for lunch.

The Debate

After we left the first building my dad and I had a bit of a debate/disagreement about our experience at the first community. 

It looked great . . . what we could see, and when we had the receptionist’s attention she was friendly, but twice she took phone calls that turned into long chatty visits with people she was friendly with (one of which came close to 5 minutes) while we stood there.

After leaving dad felt that it was not all that unreasonable that we couldn’t get a tour since we were not real prospects, particularly since she said that she would have gotten us a tour if we had been. 

His point was that, in reality, what we were doing was highly unusual and they shouldn’t need to be prepared for, or accommodate, something that might only happen, at most, once in forever.

I, on the other hand, see it differently.  My dad and his wife have friends that are at the prime age for senior living and now, what does he have to say about that community compared to Casa de Santa Fe?   I am at the age where my friends’ parents are prime candidates for senior living and what am I going to say? What do you think?

Steve Moran