By Steve Moran

There is a persistent, widely held belief that senior living is this thing that old people do that makes their life less good.  

In response, we spend a lot of time telling, or attempting to tell, the world this belief is wrong — that in fact senior living is great for older people. The messaging revolves around the idea that we …

  • Have great programming
  • Offer great activities
  • Keep people safe
  • Help with transportation
  • Have amazing food

Blah, blah, blah.

But Here’s the Problem 

The media that are out to get clicks at the expense of senior living and the people who live and work in senior living know how to tell a story. They make their living day to day telling stories — not ordinary stories but stories of evil and scandal and wrongdoing. And all they need is a single thread of truth or an outlier case of wrongdoing to create the most scandalous, ugly narrative that tarnishes the entire industry. The stories tarnish the hardworking, dedicated leaders who are busting their tails to serve residents, family members, team members, and the local community.

Reporters take one or two cases of horrible abuse — real abuse that cannot be excused — and imply that those outlier cases represent the entire industry, when they don’t. Either we are silent, perhaps not knowing how to respond, or we say ineffective things like, “Well, it only happens once in a while.”

Making it worse is that there is no accountability on the part of these media outlets. They refuse to publish thoughtful rebuttals. They won’t engage in dialog or talk about the good things.  

They don’t care about truth and honesty and the entire story. All they care about is clicks.  They are immoral. They don’t care that they are scaring people away from senior living who will die at home alone. They are scaring families away from senior living, causing great mental anguish. 

Good News

As terrible as these stories are, as unfair as they are, as cringeworthy as they are, ignoring them is not a very productive way to combat the problem. Even when we do tell stories, they mostly consist of residents talking about the life they used to have. What they did in the past. Those are nice stories, but they are not the stories that will give people a better impression of senior living. 

There are better stories, amazing stories, beautiful stories. 

  • Individuals who receive new leases on their lives because they move into senior living
  • Older people who fall in love and get married or build new relationships
  • Residents who go from poor health to robust health
  • People who go from loneliness to deep and meaningful relationships
  • People who live longer, better lives
  • Family members who were stressed and stretched to the breaking point and found the relief they needed by helping Mom or Dad to say yes to senior living

These are the stories that most need telling, and they are the stories that are only rarely told. 

My Dream

My dream is that the next time the Washington Post or some other publication comes out with one of these muckraking stories about senior living, the comments are flooded with links to the real stories, the positive stories about the lives that are being changed.