We have a serious image problem!

By Steve Moran

I would say 80% of the time when flying I never have a conversation with my seatmates. I have never quite figured out what makes the difference between conversation flights and no conversation flights. It might be me or them or both.

When flying to LeadingAge Washington I had great conversations on both legs. The first and longer leg of the trip offered up a Delta Captain headed to work. We swapped flying stories for the entire 90 minutes. The second leg was maybe an hour gate to gate and my seatmate was an Alaska Airlines flight attendant about my age who was heading home.   

Leave Me to Die in the Wilderness

In that very short time, we talked about senior living, death and dying, beekeeping, and quality of life. After I told her what I did she proceeded to tell me that she would rather be shot or taken out to the wilderness and left to die than live in a senior living community.  

I was shocked

I was saddened

I was only mildly surprised.

Our Image Problem

I then spent some time talking to her about the differences between skilled nursing and senior living . . . about how rich and filling a life in senior living can be . . . and is for many people. By the time we landed, she was at least willing to consider that senior living might actually be better than being left in the wilderness to die and be eaten by crows.

This is really frustrating to me because we, in fact, have a great product and a serious storytelling problem. We let the media define who we are and what we do. We have some websites which are great, except that unless we do things to promote those websites they do little real good.  

I continue to believe that if LeadingAge, Argentum, ASHA, and AHCA were willing to pool some resources in a storytelling campaign it would move the needle. Or even better, imagine bankrolling a sitcom that would make living in senior living an amazing experience.

I have no idea exactly how we would go about finding the right concept and scripts, but I am sure there are people who could help with that.  

I believe there are millions of people out their who have a horrible image of the amazing work we do each day who are just waiting to hear a different story, to be touched with a powerful, moving, meaningful narrative.

This is an opportunity.