The research is clear: successful aging is much more about lifestyle and environment than DNA and where you choose to live matters enormously. Providers have an opportunity to help residents make the most of their current chapter in life. To do so is a boon to their quality of life and it also boosts occupancy and improves employee retention.
As the adage goes, “everyone wants progress, but no one wants change.” It is the role of the marketing and sales leader to help elders and their families understand how to best make decisions about how they want to live with purpose and meaning. And it is the role of the entire staff to help encourage residents to live their best lives.
How can this be enabled? As always, it starts with better understanding the perspectives of prospective and current residents. In Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life, there is a framework to help individuals understand how to think about place and specific tools to help analyze one’s current living situation and map out a path for finding better housing options in the future.
The right place should help people with at least the following:
- Find Purpose – Purpose is one of the best predictors of happiness and individuals without purpose are more likely to suffer from depression, boredom, loneliness and anxiety. Providers need to cultivate it for every resident
- Experience Joy – We need to prioritize increasing satisfaction for existing residents by helping them imagine and articulate what brings them joy daily and remove obstacles preventing that.
- Be Engaged – Increase social engagement by creating opportunities for residents to connect with other like-minded residents. We need to be the bridge and create opportunities for residents to both act on areas of interest and meet others from inside and outside the community.
- Be Active – Opportunities to encourage movement is critical. “Use it or lose it” holds true as we age. Identifying ways for residents to be physically active on a daily basis can help sustain a higher quality of life.
- Feel Safe – Families and residents are looking for safety and we need to be ready to articulate both by showing protocols and explaining how engagement is part of the community’s philosophy.
- Remain Autonomous – Let’s remember to be hospitable in our senior living and long-term care communities but don’t provide too much hospitality: doing things for residents that they can do on their own can lower purpose and a sense of autonomy.
Providers are able to take one of the biggest lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of social isolation, and ensure that their communities are true homes using the criteria above.
The American Psychological Association has declared that “social isolation will be a greater threat to healthy aging than obesity.” Place plays a significant but often unacknowledged role in health and happiness by combating isolation.
The right place can protect and promote personal well-being and longevity. It can help foster purpose, facilitate human connection, catalyze physical activity, support financial health, and inspire community engagement. Where people live matters enormously, especially during the second half of their life — and providers have a duty to help residents feel at home and make this time great.
Ryan Frederick, CEO of SmartLiving 360, focuses on the intersection of place and healthy aging. He recently released his first book, Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life, with Johns Hopkins University Press. SmartLiving 360 helps institutions and individuals thrive in the Age of Longevity by providing strategy consulting services, real estate development services and consumer content.
Charles de Vilmorin is the CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior.
The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.