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Let Us Entertain You to Death

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This seems to be the underlying proposition of virtually every senior housing community:  Let us entertain you to death.

The Classic Eagles song “Hotel California” ends with these words   . . . ‘“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programed to receive.  You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”’

One of the biggest challenges senior housing confronts, particularly with respect to the Boomer Generation, is that the underlying proposition of virtually every senior housing community is this:

“Move into our community where we will entertain you until you die.”

It might even be fair to say we are entertaining our seniors to death.

The Upscale Hotel Experience

A year or so ago, I attended the annual AHCA convention in Las Vegas.  I am not quite sure how happened, but I ended up with a room in the Four Seasons Hotel.  This was quite a treat/experience for me because I am more of a Hampton Inn kind of guy.  At first it was kind of fun, particularly because I could say “I am staying at the Four Seasons” but honestly, I found it a little creepy.  One morning I was running late, jumped into a shower and left my dirty clothing lying on the floor.  I came back after breakfast to tidy up and found someone from the hotel had come in and cleaned it all up, including my dirty socks and underwear. When all was said it done it was a fun experience, but if someone offered to let me live out the rest of my life in a Four Seasons Hotel I would pass on the opportunity in a flash.  I know that living in that kind of luxury would be terribly damaging to me.  I would lose my physical health and even more importantly it would destroy my mental health.  My brain and my body would more rapidly decay from laziness.

Beyond Entertainment

While I believe entertainment needs to a part of every community’s activity program, I don’t believe it should be the most important part,  I would argue that it should be the least significant part. Activities programs need to start with the premise that seniors want to learn, to grow, to create and are capable of doing so.

  • I envision a senior community that have a wood shop, an art studio, a potter’s wheel, a computer classroom, a video studio and video editing equipment.
  • I dream of a community where school children come to be tutored and read to.
  • I would love to be involved in a community where the residents are giving talks to their fellow residents about the things they are experts in or just interested in.
  • I imagine a community where there is a vegetable garden that produces food for the community itself and for others in their town that are in need.
  • The community I would want to live in, would have an underlying philosophy that my life still has value.  That I as a resident I still have things I can contribute to the housing community I live in and perhaps more importantly, that I can still contribute to society as a whole.

On Thursday this series will conclude with my vision for the right kind of activity program. Some Questions:

  • What would your ideal activity program look like?
  • Maybe you already believe you have the greatest activity program and would like to share what you are doing and what makes it so special.
  • Do I have this picture all wrong?

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