John O'Connor

The time has come to talk about an admittedly sensitive senior living issue.

Perhaps hypocritical behavior is too strong a term to describe the phenomenon. So let’s just go with, ahem, inconsistency. Or as Mama used to describe it, those who talk one game while playing another.

Let’s face it: There are quite a few people in this sector who would have you believe that they are barely scraping by. Yet their lifestyles don’t just tell a different story, they scream one.

You know the type. They own multiple McMansions on sprawling estates. Vacation home? Try homes. Their meals are chef-prepared. Their rides are of the limited edition variety. Even their walking-around clothes are custom-tailored. Get the picture?

Of course, such are the perks of being members in good standing of the One Percent Club. Some of these folks gained entry via a combination of hard work, keen insights, good timing and/or gambles that paid off. Others are their progeny. Either way, as club memberships go, you can do far worse.

Now to be clear, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the spoils of success. Even if it’s inherited. And even if bearing witness to outrageous extravagance makes the rest of us feel somehow incomplete.

No, striking it rich and/or being born that way is not the problem. What is the problem, however, is living the high life while claiming to be in dire need of a helping hand. Talk to some of these folks and you’d swear Chicken Little was an optimist.

How will I ever find good help? Or make payroll? Or keep the lights on? When is the government finally going to do something to relieve the unrelenting unfairness of it all?

Oh boy.

Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of operators in this field truly are struggling. Many among them don’t know whether they will survive the year ahead. Many more are going to need real relief from the government.

Then there are the others who are slumming it.

We’ll see plenty of people from both camps at the upcoming trade shows. To be sure, it won’t always be easy to tell who’s who. But here’s a clue: if they live in a building that’s larger than the one they work in, then perhaps they aren’t so desperate after all.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.