When I think about the factors that contribute most to the overall health and well-being of myself and my family, many ideas come to mind — finances, food, freedom, environment, community, relationships, clothing, self-esteem, sleep and shelter.
That last one is a biggie. It reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological theory that proposes a five-tier model for human survival. Physiological needs are at the base, followed by safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Often depicted as a pyramid, the idea is that none of the other stages can be fulfilled until one’s basic needs are met.
Of course we require food and air to survive, but the next most important thing is shelter. Now, I’m not simply talking about the presence of four exterior walls and a roof. Just as it’s vital to fill your body with healthy food and air, it’s also imperative to find the right kind of shelter.
If you’re living in a two-story home that’s falling apart, that’s a bad shelter. If you’re moving in with your children or grandchildren, it might be a beautiful house, but do the family dynamics make it the right space for you? Does traditional senior living have a negative impact on your health because it forces you to surround yourself with mostly people of the same age and acuity level? Is it a place you feel comfortable calling home?
If you can get the housing right and get the right roof over your head, all of the other things in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are possible and help lead you on the path to a better way of living.
Every day in the U.S, 12,000 people turn 65, and they need the right roof over their head. That’s where Upside can help. CEO Jake Rothstein and I created this option for the 90% of older adults who will never choose to reside in a traditional senior living environment. Today, the senior living industry only houses about 10% of the population over 65 years old.
Upside is a completely new alternative, but it’s also super simple because we’re utilizing spaces that already exist. Billions of dollars have been spent across the country building multifamily apartment complexes and condominiums. People of all ages, from 18 to 80+ have been living in these types of homes for decades. That’s their purpose. Upside takes these structures and adds a level of care and support on top of that to help members age in place the right way.
We have an entire team dedicated to finding apartments that fit the needs of older adults. As part of our strict guidelines and criteria, we make sure that in terms of mobility, walkability and ease of access, each apartment is the right fit to mitigate any potential risks. We have thousands of apartments located across the country, so we never fall short on options. If you’re an older adult looking for something specific, such as a certain style of flooring or countertops or view of the beach or mountains, chances are high that Upside has the environment and interior design you want.
In Boca Raton, Florida, for example, Upside has 15 options. So we’re able to look at a potential member’s budget and specific needs and desires and find the right home for them. The array of options is what makes us so appealing.
The other aspect that makes Upside so desirable is that our apartments don’t carry the stigma of traditional senior living ‘facility-based’ environments. Our members live among the rest of society with people in the building of various backgrounds and ages. We surround them with an environment that’s going to set them up for a better, longer aging journey with better health along the way.
Once an older adult moves into an Upside apartment home, we provide them with an extra layer of services tailored to their specific needs. Unlike most assisted and independent living facilities, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. From housekeeping and tech support to companion visits, on-demand meal delivery and transportation scheduling, we provide a slew of customizable options. Each of our members utilizes our services differently.
On top of that, Upside provides stability and peace of mind through maintenance-free living. That means if your refrigerator breaks, you’re not responsible for replacing it. If your apartment floods, you don’t have to worry about the damages or flood costs. Our renter’s insurance takes care of all of that.
When it comes down to it, the key to living longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives starts with providing older adults with the right home. For our members, none of them were on board with the traditional senior living models — moving into one of those locations was never going to be an option for them. They sought a destigmatized environment complete with independence and flexibility, and that’s exactly what Upside delivers.
When we introduced our first member into an Upside apartment more than two years ago, Jake and I personally packed up their belongings and changed their entire livelihood. That person is still with us, and we have new members from across the country moving in daily. The fact that Upside is now in the industry and becoming a significant option is an amazing feeling. We’re creating new and exciting options in a space that’s been stagnant for far too long.
This concept was born from our own personal experiences with our grandparents, and we took a leap of faith that there were more people out there like our grandparents for whom moving into a traditional senior living facility was never a possibility. But, Jake and I always say that we’re also building this for ourselves and generations after us. In terms of what we’re building with Upside, we feel the timing is perfect. The senior living industry needed more options for a dynamic and diverse population of modern agers, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of that innovation.