Older adults often desire to “age in place,” remaining in their homes until end of life. However, many overlook the physical, medical and emotional costs of aging in place, says Brandt Ross, a resident at an Arbor Company senior living community.

Before retiring, Mr. Ross was a successful turnaround consultant for troubled companies. Now he teaches a course to encourage others to transition into senior living sooner rather than later. To lighten the topic, he weaves music into his program, and cites his own experience.

Mr. Ross will be featured in an encore presentation of his earlier Senior Living Live webinar: Aging in Place is an Illusion. The webinar, scheduled for July 30 (EST) at 2:00 p.m., will go a bit deeper this time to examine the financial costs associated with senior living. 

Senior Living Live host, Melissa Lee, sat down to interview Mr. Ross to get more details about his upcoming webinar, and to learn more about his personal experiences with senior living. Check out the video below to watch the interview, and visit ArborCompany.com/Illusion to watch the webinar.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone. I'm Melissa Lee and this is Senior Living Live, the show that is dedicated to pulling back the curtain on senior living, and really diving into all aspects and all topics of the senior living experience. We've got quite a bit of content already up on our website and I encourage you to visit www.seniorlivinglive.com. Now we have taken things a step further and we'll be producing and creating monthly webinars with real news that you can use. On that end, I want to introduce you to someone very special. A man by the name of Brandt Ross. He and his wife Jenny currently reside at an Arbor Senior Living Community. He has become quite the advocate for the senior living experience and has been very busy here lately traveling around the city of Atlanta conducting seminars and now webinars on this very topic. We are so fortunate that he took the time out to conduct one with us and he took a few minutes here today to explain why he's made this his mission. Here's our conversation. Brandt Ross, hello, it is good, as always, to have you on as a guest, as someone who obviously knows a lot about senior living, because that is your day-to-day. Tell us about this program that you've created for seniors and why do you think or feel that this message is so important?

- Well, I have had so many experiences with family and friends that have culminated in tragedy in one form or another. And years ago, shortly after we moved here, I decided to make it my mission to reach out to as many of my peers as possible to try to convince them, motivate them, to don't let things happen to them, take charge of their own destiny. And it just kept on growing and growing and I try to do classes and programs wherever I can reach anybody. I'm shameless, I'll do it for two people or how many ever they have. It's just become something because having done this almost six years ago, with my wife, we've transitioned to a senior residence, and happily, even under the current circumstances, which is difficult for everybody. But I just realized that you can really have a good life, continue doing all the things you did before, but at the same time be in a safe and secure environment where you're really, in a sense, protected and have the opportunity to meet and know a lot of people, make new friends as so on.

- Well, you have certainly been in-demand for this seminar, now turned into a webinar because of COVID-19. What has been the response and what has been that common ah-ha moment that people seem to commonly have after hearing about your experiences?

- I can't say that there's an ah-ha moment, but what I do feel is when I give this program, and I've found that the number of people have come to a number of programs. It's like they're pushing the ball down the field a little bit farther. I don't think, I've not had experience where someone all of a sudden has an epiphany and says, "Oh, I gotta move tomorrow." It doesn't happen that way. They just kind of like gradually start doing one thing and continue, so that it becomes a process. And they sometimes fall off the and they had to kinda get back onto it. Because it's easy, easy to fall off. It's easy to continue in the comfort of your home with all the stuff around you. But it is a sad destiny if you do.

- Sure, you have had quite a successful career as a CEO and actually became known as sort of this fix-it guy that can come in, a company was struggling or having problems, and you were the go-to person to come in, get called in and make it all better. So I do find it interesting that during the webinar that you held for Arbor, that you said that senior living, that industry, is the toughest you have seen or been a part of. Why is that?

- The senior residence itself, it's a hotel, it's a hospital, it's a restaurant, it's a YMCA, it's a cruise ship that never leaves the dock. There's so many combined businesses that are going on and to really in a sense manage all the activities with a customer base of 200 cranky but lovable old people, it's a challenge for anybody. And I mean, it's really, but it's a fascinating business because, as I say, here we are, in the senior part of our life, and those people who have made this transition are really living a good life. Not faced with the problems of having a house and all the problems that come with it.

- So you have a tough industry, right? And one that is certainly made even more difficult due to a pandemic, COVID-19. You have always been a proponent for senior living, even more so now that this is your day-to-day. Have your thoughts at all changed on that end?

- Almost I think they've strengthened because we've been in what I call quarantine for three months. We have not, I have not driven a mile, although we used to travel quite a bit up until then. Fortunately completed a nice trip in February before we went into quarantine, but they've kept us safe. They deliver all the meals to the door. We`'re just gradually starting to get into some joint activities, but very, very slowly. They're being very careful. And we've had no incidents, and I mean, they've just done a great job in keeping us safe. I don't know if that would be true if we were trying to live at home and yet had to go out and shop or do various errands and so on. So I feel really good that this was the right place to be and I'm glad we were here.

- Well, you are adamant, and even throughout the webinar you hear this theme that you don't want people to wait until it's too late to make that move into senior living, So with the pandemic and everything that has happened and transpired over the past couple of months, do you still recommend the senior living lifestyle, and if so, why?

- Oh, yeah, I can't say enough. There's, I think probably an event occurred several months ago with a very dear friend of ours. A widow, her husband died last year, she was living by herself, fit, very active, about 70 years old. And anyway, fortunately, she has a very good relationship with her sister and they would talk every day. Sister lives someplace else. They would talk every day. Anyway, long story short, the sister did not hear from her. Kept calling and kept calling, got no answer. Finally called the police. The police broke in and found her on the floor, she had a stroke. And they of course rushed her to the hospital. Anyway, this was several months ago and I mean, it's the type of situation you don't know what's gonna happen to you when you're alone. And there's so many senior women who are living alone who are faced with this kind of potential risk and danger. It's terrifying.

- Yeah, and I think what can be really appreciated from the webinar that you give is that you're not only telling people the reasons why they should consider this, but you're also helping them make those decisions in terms of what do I do with my house? What do I do with my stuff? You tackle all of these issues and what I also like is finding out that this had spawned other webinars or seminars for you. Can you give us a little tidbit of some future webinars we may see on Senior Living Live?

- Well, the second half of the first one is really where I do re-cap of the first half but I focus on more of the how-to. How it's important for you to sit down with your financial advisor and determine really exactly what you can afford. Take a look at your longterm care if you have such a policy and really in a sense, start to know, instead of just being traumatized by the fact that if you hear a rental figure you say, "I can't afford that." You really need to know before you go what you can afford. And whether you should buy something or rent something. I personally recommend that people rent and not buy. That's my personal preference. I think it's most important for seniors to try and stay as liquid as they possibly can.

- Well, Brandt Ross, as usual, we appreciate your perspective and we will, of course, see you soon. Thank you so much.

- Thank you. That's just snippet of what you will see when you log on to www.seniorlivinglive.com. That is where you can catch Brandt's full webinar, and you will want to bring a pen and a piece of paper because it is jam-packed with useful information. Again, you catch that and all of our video content at www.seniorlivinglive.com. Thank you for watching and have a great day everybody.

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