There are about twelve different websites that I read to keep up to date on aging in place issues. The senior housing forum blog has been a interesting look behind the walls of where I do NOT want to end up. What better place to follow the trials and tribulations of the if- we- build- it- they- will- come industry. That is where I gleaned the comment that 9000 out of the 10000 boomers who turn 65 a day, do not want to go to Life Plan communities. I have grimaced at the how to of gaining leads and the hunt for the best consumers. Many organizations do care about providing a quality service to their residents and obviously those than can afford and choose it…that is their choice.
What I am starting to read between the lines is the realization that all this chasing after the trillions of dollars of wealth that we as a generation are supposed to have might be futile. If wealth was evenly distributed and people were not losing pensions or not having to re mortgage their homes or did not have multiple obligations with adult children and/or their own aging parents, that 90% stay at home rate could be different. That shiny sparkly community on the hill with its amenities could be a financial possibility for more people.
What I suspect is the financial solvency of these over hyped communities must be in real jeopardy. In this week’s blog I read a comment by someone who lives in a Life Plan community ( formerly known as CCRC). She is admonishing the industry for not doing more to attract more residents. I admire the lady’s frankness and well thought out response – she should have her own blog! She had to move once already from one community because of its financial/legal insolvency. So she gives marketing tips to fight back against the aging in place ‘mantra’ and bring more of us in to the fold.
The senior housing industry blogger puts her thoughts in bullet points*
I have chosen to add my responses to a few of those points in italics:
*The mantra that aging in place is huge and should be refuted both overtly and subtly, pointing out the potential isolation, and the difficulty in finding reliable home help. Both are potential problems but there has to be a remedy on the in home care side both governmental and private because we are the majority. There are problems already in hiring help at facilities.
*Rather than a TV ad showing a nice-looking gray-haired couple walking along a path next to a water feature in a senior community, show someone at home whose aide called in sick (and contrast that to a community’s staff on the job) or someone mindlessly watching TV in a dreary living room (and contrast that to playing shuffleboard out in the sun . . . I know, I know — a cliche) I never use pictures of old people in my blog who are not really old, rather models with gray hair and good dental work. Who says our living rooms are dreary, they are our homes. Again staffing is a major issue for all of us.
*Another aspect of CCRC marketing that I’m waiting to see emphasized is showing the advantage of on-campus IL residents having priority access to long term care should it be needed. It’s my opinion that when the Baby Boomers eventually realize they cannot “go it alone” in their homes, there will be waiting lists for beds. There are Life Plan communities already telling residents in Independent Living level they will have services in their housing units as they are over booked for the whole continuum of care they were promised. If these communities go broke because not enough of us come on down, what are the options then?
So I ask the question what is wrong with placing your bets on your own aging in place lifestyle in your own home as long as you can. In my mind there are more creative scenarios possible where this works as opposed to betting on the stability of the traditional retirement community. Maybe this will force the senior housing industry to actually make more affordable solutions with people’s innate craving for independence in mind.