That Certain Something

handshakeThis month I’m looking way ahead. In June we typically take stock of how well the year is going  and focus strategically on goals for the coming year. If I had a crystal ball, I would be tempted to use it. Instead, I’ve got industry trends, immediate needs, resident requests, and a certain, as the French say “Je ne sais quoi”, to guide me. It is the “je ne sais quoi”, which I think literally means “I don’t know what”, that makes the future interesting .

When I look ahead with these things in mind, here is what I see.  I am proud that we are able to take care of our community’s assets so well. As the building ages, the needs of the physical plant increase but taking care of them is never out of reach. Every day our building, with its new roof and paint and well-tended grounds, is a welcome sight as I walk down the hill from the upper parking lot. This year the courtyard will get its fresh coat of paint and we will be sufficiently weatherized for the foreseeable future.

This year the oldest baby boomers, those born in 1946, have begun to access retirement communities. Meanwhile, the youngest boomers have just turned 50. The number of people over the age of 65 will grow by 10,000 people per day for the next twenty years and will double by 2030. Housing, especially affordable housing, will be at a premium since one in four members of this cohort has no retirement savings. Meanwhile, the need for all services, including primary care, hospitalization, hospice, etc. is expected to rise steeply.

Senior housing providers have been anticipating the arrival of the baby boomers now for more than a decade. Nursing homes are moving toward patient-centered social environments with exercise rooms and therapy pools, fast Wi-Fi, more food options and attractive surroundings. The boomers are expected to continue to shake things up, just as they have done for the past almost sixty years. The times are still “a-changin’”.

As far as immediate needs and resident requests here at Homewoods go, we are always looking to stay apace with technology – for example, we are currently looking into an electronic payment system for our dining room. Currently we rely on the old-fashioned honor code.  Ah technology. You are both friend and foe. What will you demand of us and what can we expect from you next year not to mention in the next five or ten years?

As for the je ne sais quoi, I can actually make an educated guess. Homewoods has always possessed “that certain something” in the way that community members watch out for one another. Even as many things become new, and tastes and preferences change, kindness never goes out of style.

Of one thing I am certain, the unknown future at Homewoods will include life and “life more abundant” as we continue to live well here on the Willamette River. Peace be with you.


Laura Engle is the Executive Director at Homewoods on the Willamette

photo by: buddawiggi