For generations in America, the experience of a nursing home was about exiting everyday life and beginning a decline in health—with an inglorious end in clear sight. Active living was over. Fortunately, sometime in the 1980s, as longevity increased, that view began to change. The senior living industry introduced the idea of an active later life—but still not one that would equate with the excitement and intrigue of one’s prime.
As life expectancies have continued to increase and wellness programs have extended vitality and vigor, we are now entering into a third major phase of senior care: retirement age as the commencement of a second “lifetime.” The idea here is that it’s not the start of decline but the “birth point” for a whole new life experience. The hallmark of this mindset is the idea that even after reaching “retirement age,” one’s life is still marked with significance and impact. Some might call it real living as simply opposed to living longer.
As senior living and healthcare matured over the past several decades, it became clear that simply meeting a mature person’s physical and social needs still didn’t define a quality life experience. Rather, it became increasingly apparent that as people continued to age, the need to find significance in their lives became all the more acute. It was pure validation of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. That significance might be defined as remaining integral to the well-being of others, whether through direct social contact or via creativity that inspires others. In short—it’s feeling useful.
Not only does feeling useful engender hope and higher self-esteem, it literally keeps people younger at all levels. So what does this mean for your senior community marketing program?
It suggests that you should capitalize on this mentality by presenting your senior living community as a genuinely new life adventure for those who come to live there. They should see it as a place where people come to start a new beginning—a place where they can still meet and master real challenges.
To that end, I was recently inspired by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
When educating people on the services, experiences and amenities that are available to them, think of creative ways to demonstrate how these all help your potential residents keep on living, doing and feeling. Neurologists tell us that new experiences literally grow our brain—and can even help to stave off the advance of Alzheimer’s. True, adventure offers sharp challenges; but aging experts today would argue that lack of adventure can be the ultimate challenge to well-being.
Retirement is not an end, it is a new beginning—this should be the mantra of your community’s marketing staff. If you can communicate that message in a way that resonates with prospective clients, you may brighten their perspective and turn what started out as a glum search for assisted living housing into a journey of its own.
Transitioning to a senior living community does not have to mean someone has reached a point where they can no longer care for themselves. It means the person has reached a stage in which they have the opportunity to live an active and engaged lifestyle with like-minded people who are also experiencing this new phase of their lives.
For example, 101-year-old Flossie Kennedy still exercises, and loves that she can get up in the morning and focus on her body’s well-being. Arlen White, 80, decided to start coaching three basketball teams since his retirement community handles all of his housing affairs. He loves not having to focus on trimming the yard and just being able to teach basketball skills to children. Newlyweds Bill and June Hopper (ages 86 and 76, respectively) have fun waking up and planning out their daily activities while perusing the community calendar over breakfast. They are still on the road of adventure.
These are just a few examples of seniors who are actively living life to the fullest and embracing the new phase of their lives. They are inspirational and light-hearted reminders that wherever you go, you should go with all of your heart. Your community can help them turn every experience into an adventure.