Future Leader: Nikki Jo Olsen, Corporate Resident Enrichment Director at Avenida Companies

The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health and hospice care. To see this year’s future leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.

Nikki Jo Olsen has been named a 2021 Future Leader by Senior Housing News.

To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. They must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.

Senior Housing News spoke with Olsen to learn more about how she went from personal training to senior housing, what she has learned about resident adaptability and why cable television might give a preview of the industry’s future.

What drew you to the senior living industry?

I was a previous Miami Dolphins cheerleader, so I’ve always been into fitness. And as I relocated to Nashville, I started managing fitness studios, and became a personal trainer. A friend of mine was involved in the senior housing industry and saw [Avenida Partners] was hiring for a resident enrichment director. So, I interviewed with the company and fell in love with it.

What has been your biggest lesson learned since joining the industry?

The biggest lesson I have learned would be how adaptable our seniors are.

People discount them a little bit and that frustrates me. People of all ages want to learn, they want to grow, they want to continue learning, they want to continue being active, they can gain muscle, they can do all of these things. That is something I have learned, and I’m excited to share more of that knowledge with the general public.

What would you change about senior housing and care if you had the chance?

I wish that people could understand this business better, especially with my demographic in active aging. Active-aging apartment complexes are more of a newer concept, and we are still educating everybody on what it is. And I just wish that people saw it and really, truly understood what it was.

What changes do you see on the horizon for senior housing in 2022?

I think that there are a lot of trends [of residents] being very individualized in their choices. When you look at all the technology that we have, people want to know how it impacts them specifically.

Look at cable TV. You went from having just a few channels to now, on the cable networks, you can choose your individual packages and what that looks like. And I feel like with this generation specifically, all of those things are coming about. [Things like,] ‘Do I want a meal plan? Do I want a fitness routine? Do I want a personal trainer? Do I want to go to art classes?’ Having individualized choices instead of just being thrown this blanket approach … I feel like that is definitely going to come more to the forefront.

In a word, how would you describe the future of senior housing?

Bright. Senior housing has evolved so much, from people thinking about it as a nursing home … to my realm of active adult. Looking back at everything that we can offer our seniors and all the directions that we’re going, I feel like it’s bright.

To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.

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