Throughout my twenty-one years in the active senior living field, including the past three and a half as president and CEO of Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, I have been witness to many extraordinary changes. Not simply changes in reimbursement, acuity levels and the day to day operations, but more importantly, how our current and future residents’ expectations already are and will continue to drive change for the future of this exciting field.
Coming from a background in accounting and working in the healthcare arena for many years, including both the insurance and provider realms, I stumbled upon the senior living and discovered my passion. Early in my tenure in senior living, I met a gentleman who just lost the love of his life. Due to weather conditions, his family was unable to travel to the memorial services. I took the time to listen to his story and quickly realized why I was there at a specific point in my life. It’s all about the story. We all have a story waiting to be told and heard many times over. It’s who we are.
Every day at Oak Hammock, new residents and prospective residents walk through our doors ready to tell us their stories. Never are two stories the same – adding to the excitement for those already living here. As we look forward to the next generations to come, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials all come to mind. While the latter two are significantly down the road, we don’t want to dismiss them, as they will be here before we know it.
The Boomers will be the largest cohort to age up and be ready for an active senior living community. Unlike the current silent generation living at Oak Hammock who are generally more modest, hard-working and traditional, the Boomers will present with more diverse life experiences, more experience traveling the world, higher levels of education and greater expectations. This will be evident in their dining requirements, ranging from vegetarian, vegan, dairy/lactose-free and gluten-free. They will be much more dependent on technology and place a higher value on lifestyle conveniences. We need to make sure we are listening to their stories so we can meet and exceed their expectations.
Here at Oak Hammock, with the thought of expansion at the forefront of our strategic plan, we realize the market is poised to venture into the new world of active senior living, and we are ready to lead. We already offer one of the most extensive dining menus and continually work with resident committees to ensure new and changing dietary needs are taken into consideration. Alternative medicine, including acupuncture, massage, aroma and sound therapy should be combined with our state-of-the-art fitness center. Our therapy department is responsible for keeping our residents feeling young and healthy.
Our mission is to support the well-being of our residents and create an active, caring community by providing the opportunity for a quality lifestyle and healthcare programs. Every resident’s experience at Oak Hammock is customized and tailored to meet his/her needs - simply by listening to each individual story.
I would love to have the chance to hear your story!