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I Cannot Believe My Arrogance . . . . .

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I was fresh out of college with a degree in finance.  The first job I landed was selling life insurance.  It was a terrible job and I was terrible at it.  I moved on to senior housing.  Whenever anyone asked why I chose senior housing I would glibly reply that it was so that I could get rich enough that I would never have to live in a senior housing community.  Ahh . . . the arrogance of youth!

Then something wonderful happened.  I joined a company that was developing Liberty Heights, a CCRC located in Colorado Springs. After the community opened, rather than staying in a hotel, I  stayed in one of the independent living residences.  This is when the light went on.

I woke up each day in a very nice apartment. I would walk down to the indoor pool and swim some laps, or go to the gym and work out, then soak for a few minutes in the spa.  Then I would return to my unit, get ready for work and followed by a fantastic breakfast that someone else prepared.  While eating breakfast I enjoyed the pleasure of great conversation with other residents. When I was done eating someone came and took care of my dirty dishes and I would start my work day. After a few days it dawned on me that I could live like this.

I remain convinced that moving from home to a senior housing community is, for many people, better than staying at home.  I believe that, at some point, I will practice what I preach and live my last years in a community for seniors, and that I will be there because I want to, not because I have to.

THE DANGER ZONE

It is easy and dangerous to assume that, once someone has made the decision to explore senior housing options either for themselves or a family member, they have crossed over and made the decision that senior housing is the best option. This is a dangerous assumption for at least three reasons:

1.  It may be that only the children have decided that mom or dad needs to move into a senior community.  I have seen many cases where the family has been fully committed to getting their loved one to move into a community only to find the loved one putting up so much resistance (throwing tantrums) that a contract the marketing person thought was in the bag just evaporates.

2.  In many cases, people tour senior housing communities more to create internal justifications for not moving into one.  They walk in the door not really looking to make a change, but perhaps to satisfy some internal or external pressure “at least take a look”.

3.  Just because someone has made the decision to move into a senior housing community it does not mean they are happy about it. . . .  Understanding this is really critical.  It is incredibly common for a resident to be forced by family or circumstance and that move-in day is a miserable day, not a happy one.  The new resident can be mad at the family and mad at the community for destroying their life.

On one hand you can take a “so what” attitude assuming the resident will adjust over time, and more or less ignore the problem.  Watch out, though! In some cases the resident will be so resistant and make themselves so miserable that misery cascades to the family member and the next thing you know, they are
moving out.

The common scenario is that the resident will just endure the move but with a significantly reduced will to live.  It is clear that mental health has a huge impact on physical health and as a result, the quality of life for the resident
is diminished, the amount of care the community has to provide increases and the length of stay decreases.

This will be a two or three part blog post.  In subsequent posts I will spend some time talking very specifically about why Senior Housing is better than living at home and how communities can actually use this resistance to their
benefit.


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