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Ruminations about LeadingAge Boston – Got a Plan?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Another LeadingAge Conference has come to an end; and I have returned to my desk with the proverbial conference virus as I am sure have many others. The slower pace begotten by my illness has allowed me time to quietly contemplate the larger picture of senior living ideas and trends presented at the annual meeting. In a series of blogs, I will reflect on three issues: the name change – continuing care retirement community morphing into life plan community; the much-anticipated arrival of baby boomers at our existing communities, whose desires will differ from those of our current generation of prospects; and issues of quality vs. quantity in one’s later, more frail years.

Senior CoupleToday, let’s talk about the name change. Is it good or is it a distraction? Should the title have the word “retirement” in it as advised by Steve Moran in his article: Even though the proposed name change will require significant expenditures as communities revise and reprint all of their collateral (just think how many places you have used the term CCRC), I truly embrace the transformation.

For decades, providers have served many psychographic groups who have welcomed and subsequently tolerated, a medical model that represents a paternalistic approach to services. However, the days of passive recipients of our services and care are drawing to a close. Today’s emerging prospects desire more true choices in their lives, not just a selection of paint colors. Those of us who have encountered baby boomers assisting family in selecting a continuing care retirement community understand how much the boomers have already laid claim to changes in the physical environment of communities (“Mom needs an open floor plan, please take the wall down in the kitchen and create a breakfast bar.”) and more of the same is coming. They want input and the ability to participate; in sum, to be active decision-makers in their retirement years.

In the book How to Say It to Seniors by David Solie, the author not only discusses how older adults continue to experiences loss, he also suggests empowering seniors through words of action and empowerment. The new term life plan community, conveys such a concept of self-direction. We have always known that continuing care retirement community consumers tended to be planners. The emerging customer is a planner and desires to take charge of his future – creating a life plan rather than succumbing to the destiny of whatever befalls him.Life plan community! The question should be, Got a Plan? rather than, Got Milk?

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