Seniors housing has to meet seniors where they are in their aging journey.
By Jake Rothstein, UpsideHōM
While the last couple of years have been demanding for us all, the holiday season still proves to be a fun and exciting time. Families reunite around their dining tables; people travel across the country and the world to be with their loved ones; gifts are given and received. It is a time to reflect on the past year but also a time to plan for the upcoming year.
At UpsideHōM, we strive to provide older adults with a new model for senior living, and we find this time to be quite busy for our team as we explore options with potential members who are looking for a change in the new year.
Whether it’s the older adult or adult children, it seems like the holidays prompt the question: “Am I aging in the right place?” This year, we saw our weekly inquiries double during the holidays.
Ninety percent of older adults say that they want to grow older in the homes they currently live in. However, every day we see people who simply find it impossible or impractical to do that for a whole host of reasons. When we start conversations with potential members, we tend to emphasize that although the latest industry buzz is around “aging in place,” we believe the focus should be on “aging in the right place.”
Many times we see older adults forced into a new living situation due to a trigger event. By 2035, 17 million older households will include at least one person with a mobility disability — a 77 percent increase from today, according to the Joint Center. In addition to injuries or medical issues, the older adult might also face the sudden death of a spouse, or the need for additional liquidity to support a certain lifestyle. Ultimately, it leads them to the realization that the big, two-story house where they raised their children just doesn’t make sense for them anymore.
The key to a stress-free transition into “aging in the right place” is planning in advance rather than waiting for a trigger event to force a life-changing decision. Here are some ways in which seniors housing is falling short, and how we can create a process for seniors to find homes that are a better fit for them.
Encourage planning in advance
The challenge we often face is helping potential members understand why it makes sense to plan in advance of these trigger events. The uncertainty of what lies ahead makes it seem daunting to start the process, particularly with the challenges the industry’s traditional models have faced in light of the pandemic. However, the sooner they do, the sooner they will come to find a solution that is a right fit.
It is important to remind our potential residents that nobody wants to make a critical life decision like moving amid a highly stressful event. We have seen that it is almost always best to plan well in advance so that residents can make smart, sound decisions about what they want their future to look like — without feeling like they’re rushing into the next phase of their life.
Where Is the right place?
There are three key factors that older adults should keep in mind when considering where to age in the right place — convenience, flexibility and community.
One of the main reasons they may be looking to relocate is for a convenient way of living. For example, our business model simplifies day-to-day chores and monthly processes for our members by providing maintenance-free residences with regularly scheduled housekeeping and one-bill simplicity. All services are managed on a single bill every month.
Each member is also assigned a dedicated manager who can assist with tasks like changing lightbulbs or hiring a repairman for an HVAC unit. It falls on us to create a living model that allows older adults to maintain their independent lifestyle while offering support in the specific areas they are looking for.
Moreover, we are constantly evolving as people, so living options should be able to grow with the resident. It’s essential for us to create a flexible community or living model that allows members to modify their monthly services.
Maybe they aren’t looking for meal delivery at the moment, or they don’t require transportation as of yet. However, down the line, those may be options that become more appealing. Finding a solution that offers these resources could make a difference in the next few years, and help them avoid facing another move.
Lastly, it is beneficial to find a place that offers a sense of community. About one-fourth of adults over age 65 are considered socially isolated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Social living and increased social connection can support wellbeing and mental health, particularly if the older adult is living in an age-diverse environment.
Offer seniors the opportunity to move into a home and community that creates meaningful connections between people with common interests and passions. Whether it’s companion visits, meet-ups, or access to local events and experiences, it is crucial to prioritize these social connections. Help them maintain the relationships they currently have with family and friends, while finding new companionship.
What’s the first step?
It is ultimately the senior’s decision where is best for them to age and spend their retirement years. Do they want to stay in the city or town they’re currently in? Are they up for a change in location? Are they looking to be closer to family? What aspects of their daily routine do they want to ensure stay with them in this next chapter?
To knowledgably make this decision, they need to think through what they need in terms of care, support, accessibility and convenience. This is where we, as senior living solutions, must step in to offer transparency and consultations.
Allow seniors to think critically about what they may want in this next step and what will allow them to live the life they want to live. Remaining independent and active is possible through senior living if we build communities that fit a vibrant lifestyle and promote thriving on the resident’s own terms.
Jake Rothstein is the founder and CEO of UpsideHōM, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for older adults everywhere.