LeadingAge 2021 Biggest Takeaway


People from all over the country came together at the 2021 LeadingAge conference, all with one thing in common: senior living.


Many attendees go to create and deepen connections with industry partners, some to learn, and some to teach.


One of the biggest trends in this year’s meet was diversity in senior living. There were several breakout sessions regarding the trends, policies, training, and education involved with diversity.


Here are some highlights.


Definition: The practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.1


Many businesses, large and small, have been incorporating diversity practices for years now.


As the aging population increases, so does the range of social and ethnic backgrounds.


As a result, senior living companies are coming together to celebrate the differences that make up their communities.


In the past, some LGBTQ+ seniors felt forced back into traditional expectations when moving into senior housing, after living openly for years.  Seniors who did not want to experience discrimination, would hide their orientation when moving to an assisted living community.


LGBTQ+ oriented assisted living communities are growing across the U.S. And with the surge of baby boomers reaching retirement age, acceptance of diverse lifestyles is expected.2


When the customs of different cultures are acknowledged, it creates an inclusive environment for all residents.

The need-to-belong theory.

This theory is a well-studied concept in psychology that identifies belonging in social groups and established relationships as a fundamental human need.


A recent American Psychological Association (APA) report on this theory states, “Studies of rejection show that thwarting the need to belong produces drastic and sometimes puzzling effects, including increases in aggression and self-destructive acts, and decreases in helpfulness, cooperation, self-control, and intelligent thought."3

How to embrace cultural diversity in your community:

  • Train your staff to recognize and accommodate the unique needs that accompany different cultures.
  • Establish clear policies that state all residents and coworkers must be treated equally, regardless of race, gender, or religion. Put in place a zero-tolerance policy for prejudice or discrimination, whether among staff or residents.
  • Provide activities and programs that offer seniors the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures. For example, make sure Hindu residents can celebrate Diwali and Muslim residents can observe Ramadan.
  • Create marketing materials that represent and promote cultural diversity. It is important to provide prospective residents with information that accurately represents your community.
  • Provide interpreters, especially in medical situations.4

Create diverse marketing appeals.

Do an audit of your marketing material. Who are you representing? What are the demographics of your communities and surrounding areas?

Google recently did a study on how diverse marketing impacts consumer behavior. Here’s what they found:

“64% of those surveyed said they took some sort of action after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive. This percentage is higher among specific consumer groups including Latinx+ (85%), Black (79%), Asian/Pacific Islander (79%), LGBTQ (85%), millennial (77%), and teen (76%) consumers.”5

From this study, we can see that many racial, ethnic, and identity groups are more likely to pursue brands that show people like them.

Everyone wants to be seen, heard, and understood. Try challenging your marketing and sales team to see how they can attract and welcome diversity.

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