The Senior Care Industry at one point only saw its role as one that assisted elders with basic living needs, not to help them live in meaningful communities that provide continued integration of elders in and with society. The former approach often led to the valid criticism of senior care providers ‘warehousing’ elders. This warehousing criticism was based on an overall simplistic approach to eldercare which led to large profit margins in the industry.
Now developers and operators have a difficult time letting go of such margins. But in order to provide more sophisticated and intelligent care, more professionals in social work, psychology and other human services need to be employed, all people who cost more. The carepartners, who belong to the lowest paid people in the United States, yet are tasked with helping our elders (one time that will be you) in the most intimate and relational ways – are tired of working two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet.
The profit margins of yesterday belong to an outdated concept of who are our elders: not useless members of society but rather highly mature, experienced as well as knowledgable people whose wisdom must be used to steer this planet and people in more sensible directions, whose experience can maintain certain ethical and rational standards of sustainability for both civil conduct and care of our planet.
Elders are a resource, not a liability. Aging allows us to mature, not to decline. This shift in attitude towards our elders and anyone being older than what is considered young (and has that not moved to a younger and younger age with teenagers now being used in marketing and on billboards everywhere?!) – this shift, indeed, is the challenge ahead of us.
Senior care providers can either help or obstruct the much needed and wanted attitudinal change towards valuing our more mature members of society. Doing so will not only be better for planet and people but, in the long run, will make sure that our present assisted living industry will not become a dinosaur because it was not able to adapt to new needs and attitudes.
~ Nader Shabahangi, PhD, CEO and CoFounder of AgeSong, Eldercare Communities