By Rachel Hill

We know it all too well, the perception of senior living. Dingy, poorly lit hallways, the sterile smell, the cottage cheese and fruit platters. And, if we are honest, while this is not always true, it still exists. But that is not what really gets to people. Rather it is the overwhelming feeling of loneliness associated with senior living communities.

I know this from first-hand experience.

My mom was a geriatric nurse for over 20 years, working in nursing homes her entire career. She cared deeply and was one of the shining lights in this industry.

When I was a teen, she would have me come after school to the community where she was working to sit and visit with residents whose families were far away and couldn’t visit as well as those whose families simply didn’t visit.

Of course, as a typical self-absorbed teen, I hated this.

I dreaded it and thought it was quite boring. Now, in my thirties, I have immense gratitude for the lessons my mom taught: compassion and being a better person.

Senior living is also where I landed my first job. I worked in the kitchen in the community where my mom was a nurse and did everything from food prep to working on the line to being a dishwasher to running food carts to the different floors of the community.

It taught me two things: (1) a strong work ethic and (2) the food offered to residents was subpar (that’s putting it nicely).

Today it is for these reasons and so many more, including advancements in tech and wellness allowing for  healthier longer lives, that senior living needs a major UPDATE. In fact, maybe even a full OVERHAUL.

What Does That Mean?

It means incorporating better tech, like that of Connected Living. It means better food with quality ingredients. It means attracting millennials into the highly overlooked opportunities of working in senior living.

But most importantly, it means caring more. Caring more about how this industry is perceived. It’s clear that senior living has a “branding” problem. We can and must do better!