By Steve Moran

Writing this article kind of depresses me!

Usually when I write an article about a challenge in senior living I try to offer some kind of solution or path to a solution. I frankly don’t have a clue and yet I do believe this is the single biggest issue our sector faces. And while I don’t have a clue, I am also pretty sure some organizations are going to figure it out and make a lot of money while changing the world for older people.

I Wanted to Shoot Myself

I have a friend who has a close loved one who lives in a senior living community. It is, without a doubt, the nicest senior living community in the area. My friend was celebrating a holiday with that person and invited me, my wife, and a few other close friends to join them for the retirement community’s holiday meal for residents and family members.

The food was good, the service was fine, the people were nice, but as I watched residents and family members shuffle through the buffet line, I was hit with this overwhelming sense of “I hope this never happens to me. I hope I never get to that point. Shoot me before I end up living in a place like this . . . doing this”. And again, please note this is a nice place that does a good job.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I felt this way without much success.

Except Maybe It Is This

I am reading a book titled “The New Gold Standard”, which is about the leadership principles behind the Ritz Carlton brand. This quote, which originally came from an Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, seems to sum it up: “Stay Relevant, that’s the name of the game . . .”

Residents were at that holiday celebration because they had to be and they wanted to be . . . sort of. They wanted to spend time with their loved ones, but no one looked like they were having very much fun. Friends and family members were there because they have genuine concern and love for the resident, so in one sense every single person was there because they wanted to be there.

But I am a bit fearful that the “wanted to be there” was more like the “kind of wanted to be there” that drives people to funerals, not the kind of “want to be there” that drives people to healthy family and class reunions.


I believe it is possible to bring relevance to senior living. A few years ago I visited an assisted living community owned by my friends at Watermark where it felt alive, active, and fun. I wrote about it HERE.  A few weeks ago my friend and partner in crime Denise Boudreau-Scott and I visited a nursing home operated by Rocky Mountain Care that I was ready to move into by the time we left.

How It Feels

The things that make us feel good about a hotel, restaurant, amusement park, or a store are composed of a whole bunch of things, like a great recipe where there is nothing all that special about the individual ingredients, but in the right combination, delivered in the right way, the result is something amazing.

I guess my question for you as a senior living leader would be this: How do your communities feel when you walk in them? Are you relevant?