Here’s how a fair number of conversations about my job evolve:

Person: “What do you do?”

Me: “I’m an editor; I work at a business magazine.”

Person: “REALLY? How interesting. Like Forbes?”

Me: “No, a trade magazine. It covers long-term care.”

Person: “Oh … like nursing homes?”

Me: “Yep! I love it.”

Person: “Oh.”

You can almost see the little thought bubble above their head that goes “Oh, nursing homes, eek!”

I imagine I’m not alone in the trajectory of these conversations. Granted, at my age, my peers have relatively little experience with long-term care. Still, how many times has someone said to you something to the effect of, “Ugh, I could never do what you do. How depressing.”

I suspect that’s one of the reasons, whether you are a vendor, provider or even a journalist, you look forward to the American Health Care Association, LeadingAge, American College of Health Care Administrators, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care Industry, or National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration/Long-Term Care meetings, to name a few. It’s not just about the speakers or the sessions, it’s also a sense of: These are people who are like ME. These are people who understand.

The difference in these conferences, as many of you know, can be vast. To assume that everyone in long-term care is the same is to assume that the AHCA Congressional Briefing next week, with its visits to Capitol Hill and speeches by Bob Woodward and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will have the same feel as dozens of nurses convening on Las Vegas June 8-12. (Spoiler alert: There’s a different vibe.)

I’ll be at both those events, and encourage you to find me and say hello. (I’ll be the lady with the reporter’s notepad.) While we may be involved with different aspects of the long-term care industry, join me in celebrating that we’re all in this together. We’re the ones who know that too many people don’t prepare for what will happen when they are old; that many daily caregivers in nursing homes are doing heroic work; and about the enormous pressure of changing regulations and payment reductions.

The weight of your facility’s budget might be an albatross around the neck, but you will find sympathetic ears when you go to these conferences.