By Steve Moran

One of the single biggest challenges senior living faces is that we mostly expect our customers to do senior living the way that’s best for us, the industry/the operator, rather than what is best for the consumer.

We are leaving lots of opportunity and money on the table. Even worse, it means older people who could benefit from senior living won’t.

I know two couples who fit this profile:

The husband has a body that is failing, though he is mentally sharp. The wife is younger and in much better health. While he can still drive, it is a physical challenge and doesn’t happen much.

The wife is physically healthy, mentally sharp, and active. Both are very social, which has been hampered because of the hard realities of aging.

They both have explored and I believe would thrive in senior living because it would provide ready, easy access to community.

They both have plenty of financial capacity, including being able to move in without selling their homes.

They have both decided NOT to move into senior living yet.

WHICH MEANS IF THE PRODUCT WERE RIGHT, they would likely move in today.

The No’s

Here is why they have taken a pass on senior living:

  • What to do with all their stuff is overwhelming to the point of paralysis.
  • Our model today is still primarily based on providing care. While care is important, they can get care anyplace, including at home.
  • No one has made a compelling case for how socialization will transform their lives. And, since one of the people I am writing about is very close to me, I know how much he is missing that socialization piece. And what I worry about is that what most senior living provides now, would not be good enough.
  • Most important: No one has offered an “easy to try before you buy” opportunity.
  • There is still a huge stigma attached to living in a senior living community. The wives are not ready to surrender to that.

The Things I Worry About for Them

I worry about some things they don’t even know they should worry about.

I worry that the social experience will not be very good. I worry that the rules will be stifling to people who are used to living their lives the way they want. Finally, I worry they will end up with “less than” lives rather than “more than” lives.

If there is another case of Covid and they are living in a senior living community where their primary driver is socialization, Covid could easily make their lives much worse than living at home. And there is something very, very wrong with this.

Right after I started writing this article, an acquaintance told me about a friend of theirs who is in similar circumstances. There are likely tens of thousands of older couples, maybe hundreds of thousands who would be great senior living residents, if only.