The Power of Language when talking about Senior Living

Why we call it a Community

Perception is a powerful tool that can be used for or against you in most aspects of your life. Your perception of age may impact how you celebrate birthdays, your perception of healthy eating will influence what food you buy at the grocery store. Perception impacts most decisions we make and how we look at things, this includes senior living.

Words play a large role in framing a perception, and the perception of senior living is no exception. When deciding to talk with your loved one about the idea of senior living you may be tempted to use words like facility, unit and tour. Remember that in certain context these words might create the wrong perception.

We have provided you with some alternative language that may create a more positive perception around senior living.

  1. Residents enjoying happy hour at the pubCommunity vs. Facility- when talking about senior living the word facility is thrown around quite frequently. Maybe you're trying to decide between Assisted Living and a Skilled Nursing Facility. You might be working with a case manager who used an abbreviation such as ALF (assisted living facility). Doesn’t that word sound a little too clinical for a place that you want your loved on to call home? A facility is where people are housed maybe voluntarily for health reasons such as a skilled nursing facility or non-voluntarily like in a jail. Neither is the image you want to put in the mind of some one moving to senior living. Instead try replacing the word facility with community. The word community is a group of people with shared interests. It is a place where you feel belonging and friendship. Talking to your loved one about moving into an assisted living community may feel less like they are being placed somewhere and more like they are joining in.

  2. Apartment vs. Room or Unit- when talking about downsizing from a house to a community be sure you are sensitive to the fact that it will still be the place your loved one calls home. The idea of moving into a unit or room sounds very clinical, you stay in a hospital room, a building may consist of so many units. There is nothing home like or individualized about that. Instead talk about how you plan to set up the new apartment. How the decorations and furniture will make the apartment feel like home and be uniquely suited to your loved one’s style and taste.

  3. Visit vs. Tour- when you broach the subject of bringing a loved one to see an assisted living community for the first time you will probably tell them that you booked a tour. When do you usually go on tours? Maybe on a college campus or in a foreign country? On these tours you are usually in a crowd of people where the tour guide doesn’t know your name, much less why you are interested in being a part of the tour. When you visit an assisted living community you are not there to simply see the sights, check out the room and sample the food. This visit should be custom created for you, your interests and your needs. You are able to take time and experience the community to see if you could picture yourself living there.

Choosing the right words may transform the idea of senior living from one of something that is being forced upon a loved one to something that they are curious about being part of.

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