Let’s face it: The past year and half has not been such a wonderful time to be a senior living operator.

For this unfortunate reality, we largely can thank COVID-19. I mean, who thought two years ago that mandatory face masks and vaccines would quickly become such top-of-mind issues? Or that most operators quickly would see double-digit occupancy drops? Or that hiring, motivating and keeping qualified workers would be so darn difficult. Yet, here we are.

To be sure, senior living is at a crossroads of sorts. Many of the old practices, assumptions and ways of doing business will need to change.

Yes, the “silver wave’s” demographics may look promising at the moment. But does that mean most of the looming 80-plus crowd (or their children) will want to live in congregate care settings? It’s a fair question.

And don’t get me started about staffing. Hiring and keeping able employees never has been easy. These days, it’s tougher than discounted beef jerky.

Throw in the possibility of new COVID variants, economic downturns and heightened oversight, and the road ahead may not be looking so hot, either.

It’s at times like these when taking a slow, deep breath might be a good idea. Here’s another: don’t despair.

The Marine Corps has a well-known slogan: The few, the proud. The same sentiment also might be used to describe those who work in senior living.

For truth be told, you have every right to feel proud of what you do. Every day, you are making life better for people who can really use a little (and maybe more than a little) help.

Yes, it is challenging and oftentimes frustrating work. But it also serves up some incredible rewards.

My strong suspicion is that you didn’t get into this field hoping to strike it rich. More than likely, you wanted to make a difference. And you are doing exactly that, every single day.

I once knew a guy who enjoyed saying “Illegtimus non carborundum.” That Latin phrase translates roughly to “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” That really is some world-class advice. The truth is, there are many, many things in senior living that can torpedo your enthusiasm. But only if you give them permission. Don’t.

When things get tough, try to remember why you are here. You have every right to feel great about committing to senior living. Even if the variously disguised bastards out there would have you think otherwise.