There is now such a variety of long-term care/senior living options; how do you help people find what will work best, especially if they’re planning in advance?
The best practice for anyone exploring options for their future is education. When it comes to long-term care planning, the more proactive you can be, the better. Central Pa. offers a lot in terms of senior living options. The more knowledge a person can accumulate regarding available options, the more informed decisions they can make. In terms of helping people find what will work best for them, messaging is equally paramount. A clear message with easy to digest language reduces confusion, leading to a more quality conversation. In one sentence, my intention is to lay out a clear message that SmartLife is for individuals who do not want to leave their home, but also want a plan in place for their future. To stay independent, planning ahead is essential. Be proactive. Explore options. And don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Where do you see “aging-in-place” options like SmartLife going in the future?
Growing and expanding, without a doubt. Statistics show nearly 90 percent of older adults want to stay in their own home. Sadly, less than half have prepared or given much thought to the steps they would need to take so they could remain safely and comfortably at home as they age. There is a strong desire from those who want to age in place, without always a great answer. We are seeking to change that.
Continuing care at home (or life plan at home) programs are proving older adults can stay in their own home, yet enjoy peace of mind knowing they have a plan in place should their needs change.
There are currently around 36 (of these) programs across the country. (A recent) actuary report stated the amount of “at-home” programs will triple within the next 10 years. I am working with several other continuing care at home programs to help create national education to better inform older adults who are looking for a plan to help protect them without having to move from the homes they love. This will help speak to a broader demographic and serve as a catalyst for “at-home” programs to be as well known, and in the same conversation as, traditional senior-living communities. All these programs seek to innovate and continually expand options.
There has been a lot of focus on the baby boomers, but now the earliest GenXers are approaching 60, so are they starting to prepare for later in life as well? Are you seeing differing ideas or needs from that cohort?
There appears to be greater understanding regarding the importance of pre-planning. Specifically, for an “at-home” program, realizing the necessity of joining before you need it. I am increasingly meeting with individuals who watched a friend or family member go through the ongoing difficulties of securing and paying for long-term care. (They) are quicker to understand the importance of having a plan in place before you need it. Additionally, I often speak with children of prospects looking into SmartLife as an option for their future. This is exactly why we now boast a few younger members who signed on after seeing the value their parents enjoy as members of the program.
Increasing flexibility for the future continues to be important. Flexibility in fees, including how payments are made, have proven useful. Allowing members to break membership fees into installments has provided greater options in taking advantage of the fact that SmartLife’s fees fully qualify as a medical deduction come tax time. We continue to monitor the use of technology, smart home features and wearables for ongoing health monitoring. Simple smart lighting features can help reduce the risk of falls. Movement monitoring wearables are able to detect ECG and heart rate. Even AI has started addressing isolation and the importance of companionship. These features will continue to show their growing importance for younger generations.
What does your dream senior living situation look like?
My dream senior living situation is access to safe, quality care for all at a practical cost. Healthcare is expensive. Long-term care is no exception. My personal dream senior living situation includes intergenerational living, along with the warmth of a sunny sky. I would love to have my kids — and at that time, hopefully grandkids — nearby. Their youth will help keep me young at heart. Surrounded by family, we would overlook the ocean with sand between our toes and enjoy the sun on our faces with a cool breeze cascading in off the waves. Our surrounding environment can so easily dictate our choices, mood and overall health. Be somewhere you can smile and continue to do so for as long as possible.
By freelance writer Jennifer Botchie Deinlein
About Andrew Solodky
Andrew Solodky, 40, joined SmartLife VIA Willow Valley in 2015 as a sales advisor, later becoming sales supervisor and then manager of marketing and sales, which he has held for the past five years. He previously worked in the field with HCR ManorCare and Clipper Magazine.
Solodky earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with honors, from Temple University.
He lives in Lancaster with his wife and three children.