Senior Living Industry at a Crossroads; Improving Aging Experience is Key

The senior living industry is at a crossroads, and the decisions made today will have a far-reaching impact on the future, said Larry Minnix, president of LeadingAge, a nonprofit trade association of senior living providers, during the group’s annual meeting held this year in Denver, Colo.

The direction the industry decides to take will impact future generations as the nation’s senior demographic expands significantly while many struggle economically, he said, but there’s one thing in particular senior living providers must consider: The experience of aging.

“Improving the aging experience in America is the number one key to healthier families, healthier communities, and a healthier economy,” Minnix said during his keynote address. “Your leadership is based on the fundamental values of this country: justice, mercy, opportunity, and choice, which you fulfill every day in your communities for the people you serve.”

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It’s not just about providing services for low-income seniors or others who may be struggling financially, it’s also about doing a good job. 

Caring for the nation’s disadvantaged isn’t solely a humanitarian instinct, but an economic one, he continued, telling his audience that “You know how to do better—for less.”

“Decent and affordable housing is the basic ingredient for the health and stability of any of us,” said Minnix.

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Nonprofit providers can also take advantage of the financing that’s available to them.

“You know that low-interest capital to ensure safe and decent housing is not a welfare program to be eliminated, but an essential catalyst for improving health and for delaying moves to higher levels of care, and reducing expensive emergency room visits,” he said.

Leading up to the annual meeting, LeadingAge collected feedback from its member organizations regarding future plans. Ideas included continuing to employ the use of technology in communities; looking into low-income housing initiatives to complement services; and partnering with others in the community to broaden the range of services that can be offered.

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Expanding market reach by providing services to those living nearby communities who want to remain in their homes was another suggestion—and many are already doing so in some form.

“We now believe you’re serving more people beyond your [bricks-and-mortar] walls than within them,” Minnix said. But even as those service lines grow, may providers are still focused on upgrading their physical communities, implementing speciality health and wellness programs, adding outpatient clinics or adopting “Green House” models of care, he said.

View the 2012 Annual Meeting address at LeadingAge.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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