Help people prepare for aging

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Anthony Cirillo
Anthony Cirillo

"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young."

—Theodore Roosevelt

I have a keynote that I give to long-term care associations, caregiving groups and most recently even to the EPA. It is entitled The Meaning of Life. Presumptuous of me, huh?! In it I impart life lessons that we can learn from our elders about living a quality life. Happens that all of the stories (and related songs) originate from fantastic elders in nursing and assisted living facilities.

For example, those elder living a quality life have an unbelievable attitude. Take my friend Jean. She was in her late eighties when she faced the prospect of going into a nursing home. She did not view it as a place to die but as an opportunity to try new things, experience life, as she never did before. And she did.

This mild-mannered widow who simply raised her sons into fine men never really took time for herself. Now in a New Jersey nursing facility she blossomed and truly had a great end to her final chapter. How in the world then could any of us, save facing a serious health problem, have a bad attitude?

I conclude my keynote asking people to think about preparing for their elder years sooner than later. Prepare emotionally: What does it mean to grow older? Prepare financially: How will you pay for all of this? Prepare physically: How you take care of yourself today will affect how you prosper or NOT when you age.

And that final point was reinforced when I read President Roosevelt's quote. Indeed, how we live our lives today will absolutely affect how we prosper or perhaps suffer as we age.

So, then what role does long-term care share in helping people of all ages think about and then prepare for aging? If you look around currently, actions would indicate that they have no responsibility and perhaps don't care to have that responsibility.

And with healthcare reform and the notion of accountable care organizations, will it not be incumbent for organizations to start looking at people's entry into the continuum of aging services sooner than later? Gentiva wasted no time adding the hospice element to its home health offerings. (See link to story at right.) Will nursing homes look to own home health, adult day, assisted living?

And if they do, it will make marketing sense to educate people about aging options sooner than later. Because all of the services the industry offers are services people would like to run away from as fast as possible.

Smart organizations that educate and take a personal responsibility in educating people about quality aging create what we marketers call tipping points for choice. In other words, when people finally need a service in the continuum of aging they will look to those in the continuum who have reached out and helped them.

So my vote is yes, the industry has a HUGE responsibility in helping society age with quality. But if you need the carrot for your stick know that it is smart marketing and smart business to do so. Got your attention now!?

Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC is a sought-after speaker, healthcare expert, elder advocate and blogger. He works with long-term care facilities and is available for management retreats and association keynotes. He is the author of "Who Moved My Dentures? His company, Fast Forward Consulting, empowers organizations to change the healthcare experience and leverage it in their marketing. In his spare time he entertains residents in assisted living and nursing facilities. Cirillo will be speaking at the annual AHCA convention in California this fall on Moving Person Centered from Theory into Action. To read more, go to www.4wardfast.com and www.anthonycirillo.com.

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