We need to fight for the right to tell our seniors’ stories!

By Steve Moran

A year ago Senior Housing Forum published an article titled Assisted Living Residents Fight For Their Right to Party. This article talked about how Stephanie Gumina and the residents of The Belvedere of Westlake, made a music video parody of the Beastie Boy’s song “Fight for Your Right to Party”.  

When I published the article the video had been viewed more than 2 million times. Today, just shy of a year later, it has been viewed more than 6.5 million times. At the time I wrote the article I opined that those huge numbers were not that important because the people who were watching the video were mostly Beastie Boy’s fans and not senior living prospects.

I may have been too hasty in my thinking . . .

Perception is Everything

We well know that most people shudder at the thought of ever having to move into a senior living community. We know that when you say senior living community they either think active 55 communities or, more likely, they picture a bunch of little old ladies and men in wheelchairs or with walkers by their sides, sitting around in rumpled PJs playing endless games of bingo while waiting to die.

We need to repaint the public perception of senior living. Each year I talk to hundreds of senior living leaders who tell me amazing stories about how their residents are living full rich lives even as their physical bodies and sometimes their minds play dirty tricks on them.

These folks are our customers for sure, but they are real people who lived, and continue to live, bright vibrant lives. We need to be telling that story over and over again.

Telling Our Story

Crazy videos like “Fight for the Right to Party” can help with this perception, a lot. As an industry we don’t do a great job of this and often when we do, we perpetuate the negative stereotypes. How often we see stories about some senior having their last bucket list experience and they are cool stories except for one thing . . . 

The subliminal message that lands in the heart of the audience is that they got their last bucket list wish checked off, now all that is left is to wait to die.   

Don’t get me wrong. I think doing these kinds of things is great and I think we can even tell the stories; however, they must be framed in the context that another chapter is still coming rather than as the last chapter of the book.

Then we must ask everyone we know to share these stories with just one friend. Something I am going to ask you to do right now.

Several months ago . . . no . . . a whole bunch of months ago, I got this idea to make a short video of real residents living in senior living communities telling their story. I think we asked a handful of Senior Housing Forum partners to sponsor the cost of producing that video. It took too many months to do but here it is.

Imagine for a moment that you had a video like this on some tablets in your front lobby or in your marketing office. When people first came in you handed them a tablet to get to know some of your residents. You might also then ask friends and family members to share this video as a way of understanding why you love going to work each day.

My request: Would you share this video with just two other people? Maybe one in the industry and one outside, as a way of celebrating what we do each day. Maybe you would even consider sharing it on your Facebook page. Here is the direct link to the video so you don’t need to share this whole story: