Senior Living Industry is Missing the Secret Sauce

aging in place over senior housing

To be an ideal guest, stay at home.

~ E. W. Howe

Colin Milner is the Founder/CEO at International Council on ActiveAging. He recently thoughtfully responded to an article on PBS’s Next Avenue website:
“I saw a headline that caught my attention—“Why senior housing needs to change to appeal to Boomers.” (see the link below)

I commented on Colin’s piece in Linkedin:

Colin, I agree with your point, but I think the “problem” is even more systemic for the LTC/ Senior Living industry. Gerontophobia (fear of aging) is the underlying scaffolding which this industry is unfortunately residing. Betty Friedan in her groundbreaking book from 1993, Fountain of Age, named it. She termed these places “Age Ghettos” separate societies living in parallel universes sequestered from the rest of life. 

Aging in place is overwhelming the favored choice as we know— regardless of whether its the right choice. We live with a cultural myth of rugged individualism and this goes against all that is sacred to us. For many, going into LTC or Senior Living, no matter how many bus trips to museums, how good the chef inspired meals are, or how inviting Jimmy Buffet margarita fueled afternoons might be, there is a stigma of surrendering associated with theses places. As Bill Thomas so astutely noted, “Brass and glass will never have soul,” and this strikes at the heart of the dilemma. 

The “soul” Bill is talking about is the secret sauce the industry is missing. It’s the intangibles that make “Home” too compelling to leave. The natural rhythms of ritual and routines we cultivate over years of living in preferred environments. The love and family history that’s baked into the walls and furniture. And the inter-generational contacts that define living in cities and neighborhoods. 

Additionally, there is a monoculture aspect that fails to address the cultural aesthetics that individuals of ethnicity can experience in their homes. 

So, yes, Fitness/wellness is key, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle that makes up the LTC/ Senior Living industry’s mounting challenges. And with the younger generations behind us I see the problem only becoming more tricky.

Be well, Patrick 

See

Colin’s Article: