By any objective measure, the past year has been quite a character builder.

An ongoing pandemic has eviscerated occupancy levels, raised operating costs and renewed doubts about the wisdom of pairing congregate living with the aged.

Some operators have fled the market. Others soon may follow. More than a few are wondering whether their business model is built for the long haul. All in all, this is not what might be called a fun time to be in senior living. So this might be an opportune moment to ask a fairly important question: Have we hit rock bottom?

To be honest, I don’t know. Should you find yourself conversing with someone claiming otherwise, make sure your wallet is secured. That noted, my sense is that if the worst is not over, it may well soon be.

In fact, we already are starting to see some promising signs. They include indications that even as things such as census levels continue to dip, the downward flow is slowing to a trickle. In some markets, it appears to have completely stopped.

Many operators and capital providers are now gearing up for what could be some fairly robust dealmaking in the months ahead. We also are hearing predictions that the nation’s overall economy — and not just Wall Street — may be poised for serious growth.

Those indicators hardly mean we are out of the proverbial woods. To be sure, many operators are not just hurting, but hurting in a big way. Although a massive inflow of pandemic relief funding has helped ease some of the pain, it has been far from adequate.

The simple fact is that much work needs to be done before this sector will be healing, much less recovered.

Given what has transpired, it might be tempting to fixate on the carnage still visible in the rear-view mirror. But it might be more advisable to focus on the road ahead. It’s a safer way to travel. Besides, that view has more to offer.