Seniors Health & Wellbeing
Doing Winter Better – Why Where You Live Matters
Joe Cuticelli
Joe Cuticelli
CEO, Seniors
Sodexo North America

Snow, ice, cold, slippery roads – and isolation. And that’s on good days, when an ice storm or high winds haven’t knocked down the power lines. No senior in this situation is singing, “Hello, darkness, my old friend.”

Autonomy and independence is the Holy Grail for seniors, with good reason. Accustomed to directing instead of being directed, people bridle when their children point out that home may not be the safest place to be anymore and that maybe they should consider moving into a CCRC. And “bridle” may be putting it mildly – family relationships can fracture under these circumstances, when justifiable concerns about safety create distrust, resentment and anger. Prospective residents’ concerns and emotional conflicts affect the decision to move to a senior community. Many adult children plan to care for their parents through the winter of their lives.  Some make promises to never move them to “one of those places.” But, when the diagnosis is dementia, the need for a safe, caring home is all the more acute and decisions must be made.

“There comes a moment when older adults realize their aging-related limitations and start making decisions about transitioning to senior living,” according to Joe Olekszyk, CFP, in a recent article in McKnight’s Senior Living. Where you live matters and choosing the right community isn’t the same as shopping for a private home. It’s a whole new world.

The American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) understands this and the Where You Live Matters (WYLM) initiative launched in 2016 has sparked a lot of interest. The message is simple: home may not be the best place to be. When families face a wave of disillusion and challenges with a loved one’s diagnosis of dementia, they need a trusted resource to turn to.  The discovery of a dedicated Memory Care community will benefit all involved, and discovering one that could truly improve the quality of life for that resident can make all the difference.

The seniors housing industry has responded with more than 20,000 visits to the website in less than a year. 194 WYLM Ambassadors from member companies are helping to get the word out about its benefits to the industry – and therefore to prospective residents. The Where You Live Matters program has been well-received and benefits from strong organic growth and social media promotion. This program has enormous potential to empower seniors and their families, and to help owners and operators present a clear case to the individuals who can benefit from seniors communities.

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