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Life’s Sad Transition

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By Jack Cumming

Sometimes we’re reminded of how senior living ends. For me, this happened recently when Steve Moran’s mother died after a time in a senior housing setting. Steve is the publisher of Senior Housing Forum and a friend of those of us who have reached advanced age.

We’re all aging. We all know how aging ends. We also know that the advanced stages of aging are a time of increasing mental and physical frailty. These are simply immutable realities of human existence. Caring for people who are nearing life’s close is not an easy calling. It’s not something that people take on merely for remuneration. It’s a vocation of care, and we rightly honor the service of those who commit their lives to the care of others.

It’s this simple reality, which it turns out is not so simple, that gives those in the senior services industry their high calling. Motivated in part by his relationship with his mother, especially during her final months, Steve has challenged industry leaders to embrace that calling. This is not always easy, and it takes courage to say what needs to be said.

Is the provision of senior services a cause or a business? In order to be financially sustainable, senior services has to be a business. In its simplest terms that means that revenues have to be greater than expenses. But it’s also a cause . . . a calling for employees . . . and it is the consequent attitude of welcome, acceptance, and compassion that distinguishes great provider organizations from those that too often draw publicity.

What I, as a resident, admire about Steve and about his approach to Senior Housing Forum, is his dedication to those who have chosen to serve this elderly vulnerable population. He calls people to their best while acknowledging the devastating risks to which their service subjects them.  

Recently, we have the strange case of two provider leaders charged with criminal culpability in San Luis Obispo, California, when an eloping resident wandered into traffic and was killed. We can’t go here into the merits, or lack thereof, in that case, but it illustrates the judgmental hazards to which people who serve the elderly are subject. Culpability is best avoided by placing elder welfare before business needs and service before self. That is indeed a noble vocation and one that we deservedly honor. Senior Housing Forum has served to show the way toward this high ideal.

So, it is, that in empathy with Steve in the loss that he now has to endure, we acknowledge his service to the cause of ameliorating life’s final chapter. Steve, we are with you in your grief and thank you for the inspiration that you give to all of us.

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