Centers for Successful Aging: Redefining Aging. Transforming Senior Living.

By: Neal Miller

Expert in the field of applied gerontology and Masterpiece Living Senior Partnership & Outcomes Specialist

We are all well aware of the perception that retirement communities have in this country. This perception may very well be the reason most boomers plan on staying in their own homes as they age – for as long as possible. But, what if a place existed that delivered the promise of a better life? It`s no longer a question of “what if” but “how?” Masterpiece Living (MPL) is helping communities around the country become destinations where people go to grow by designating them as Centers for Successful Aging (CSA). Moreover, becoming a Center for Successful Aging is more than just a designation; it`s a set of criteria and a systematic process that serves as a roadmap for creating this environment.

CSA`s Who Are “Best in Class”

In its inaugural year, two communities were recognized as Centers for Successful Aging: Querencia at Barton Creek in Austin, Texas and Somerby of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama. Each demonstrated through its culture, data, engagement, outreach into the greater community, and programming, that they are “best in class.” These two communities have all the elements in place for offering an environment that will allow a person to remain engaged in life and continue to flourish regardless of age.

Querencia at Barton Creek: Leveraging Human Capital

What exactly sets these communities apart from the rest? The proof is in their culture and outcomes. Querencia at Barton Creek scored significantly higher than the Masterpiece Living network average for many measures of successful aging including nutrition, physical activity, spiritual fulfillment, and social engagement. Another substantial indicator was that residents reported feeling strongly supported by both staff at Querencia and by their family and friends when it came to their personal successful aging efforts. In addition, Querencia realized the unique talents and skills that existed within the people living in their community and decided to leverage that human capital. Roughly 60% of residents felt that Querencia frequently gave them the opportunity to use their existing skills for the good of the community, and nearly half felt they were given frequent opportunities to learn and gain new skills.

Somerby of Mobile: Demonstrating Cultural Outcomes

However, it takes more than quantitative outcomes to set a community apart. Somerby of Mobile demonstrated that cultural outcomes are equally important. Successful aging has become the central philosophy of their company mission statement and is carried out by team members regardless of position. As a result, it`s had an impact on the entire culture of the community – from hiring practices to branding even to community giving.

It`s clear that there`s a transformation going on in senior living. To compete and even survive, organizations will need to redefine themselves so they no longer have a reputation of being “the last stop” for people. Querencia at Barton Creek and Somerby of Mobile have shown that senior living can be much more. They`re places where growth is expected and serve as a resource to the greater community – much like a university.

How can you tell if the community you serve is meeting CSA criteria? Ask yourself this: Would you live in the community you work at? If not, maybe it`s time to consider doing things the CSA way.