By Steve Moran
What role do you want to play?
I am sure you already know this, but a “metastory” is the overarching big story that all other stories are a part of. This is my shot at the metastory for senior living.
Before Time . . .
Before time (senior living time), people did not live very long or when they did, they lived so healthily that senior living would make no sense.
And . . .
Even when on rare occasions people lived with infirmities for a period of time, there were multiple generations of families and communities to care for them. But ultimately, when things went downhill they either got better or died in a relatively short period of time.
And . . .
Women mostly worked at home so there was lots of help for older families in need, and there was only so much that could be done.
In this period the goal was to provide as much physical and emotional comfort until death occurred.
Then Time Began . . .
Then humankind began eating better, getting exercise, and bathing regularly, the quality of life improved and lifespans started increasing. Even then, there were mostly extended families to provide care. Except that, for a variety of reasons, there were more widows who did not have families to fill the gap. Churches saw a need and operated widows’ homes.
Even here there were two modes, a minimal living that was about community until the end came, which was usually swift.
Then, in the space of a few decades, society reordered itself. There were massive advances in medicine including surgery that was not butchery, antibiotics, and vaccines, all of which allowed people to live longer and healthier. The other thing that happened was that women entered the workforce so that made it harder for older people to be cared for at home.
The last thing that happened was that as medical science advanced, optimal care required specialized equipment and supplies, and expertise that could not be accessed at home. This led to more and better hospitals, nursing homes, and even senior living communities.
The story is far from over and in fact, will never be over, never reach its final grand climax until the end of time since people and science and the world are ever-changing and evolving. But today, we have senior living that, at its best, blends care and quality of life to provide older people their best possible last chapters.
But we have some ground yet to travel:
- Nursing homes struggle with true quality of life
- Senior living is still more entertainment-driven than purpose-driven
- Memory care is better than it has ever been but it is still very jumbly
- Almost all of senior living is way too expensive
Your Place in the Story
It took me a long time in this article to get here, but what is really exciting is that each of us plays a role in the big story; each of our lives makes up a part of the metastory. We are bit players, major players, we are heroes or villains. In truth, while our life is one large metastory of its own, we also play a role in hundreds or even thousands of other stories. There are:
- Stories of advancement
- Stories of failure
- Stories of evil
- Stories of triumphs
- Stories of accidents
Unlike novels, these stories that we are players in are a bit like “design your own adventure” stories where we get to decide what role we play and how we play it. I choose to be not the hero and hope to never be the villain but my goal is to be the guide helping others to be their own kinds of heroes.
What role do you play?