The troubles on Wall Street have been raising a lot of awareness about the status of one’s nest egg. The value of a home, the strength of a 401K plan, and the dwindling financial position for people hoping to one day retire with some level of security is getting a great deal of attention.
As most of the so-called experts are preaching, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s still have time to ride out the current storm and await the recovery. But what about those who are depending on their investments today? This is the conversation missing from the national landscape—the impact of the current economy on those who already have retired and deserve to age with dignity, receiving the care they will need.
These are the men and women who have worked hard, saved well and are supposed to be taken care of in their senior years. These are the people who deserve to have a voice and to be taken care of in a dignified manner. They are a living portrait of a larger lesson for our country. They have lived through hard economic times and survived them. Many fought wars and served our country. They have been the backbone of our nation. Now, many of them are worried about not only their financial security, but who will take care of them, and where will they be taken care of?
While the value of a dollar may be diminishing, the value of our aging senior population is not. Yet we are a nation that is underbuilt and undercapitalized when it comes to senior housing. And it is not just our parents and grandparents facing these challenges. We all will live longer to realize that dismal reality if we do not act today.
Being involved in the senior housing sector was once a game only played by the large corporate giants. And the current assisted living supply is simply not enough. Not enough rooms, not enough residences in enough communities.
What about your community? In truth, every community in every state in America should be able to support and take care of its seniors. It is an obtainable goal. Assisted living residences can be human-scale, can be small enough to be built in every town in America. Both assisted-living and long-term care providers need to rally to get and keep the ear of the new administration in these challenging times.
True economic recovery means getting smart about money and investing in those things that are important and add value to our communities. As America debates how to move forward in these challenging times, we must include our valued and honored seniors in these discussions. We owe this to them and to ourselves.
Jack West is the founder founder of Country Place Living, a franchisor of assisted-living residences for seniors in rural America. See more at www.countryplaceliving.com.