ALFA President/CEO Grimes on family, mission, issues

When Richard Grimes speaks about independence as non-negotiable for seniors in long-term care he speaks from experience. His 90ish father, an assisted living resident, doesn’t let age-related limitations or community mandates stand in the way of his active lifestyle, reports Grimes, which includes driving hours weekly to visit his girlfriend … in another state.

Grimes related this anecdote in a conversation with me at the Assisted Living Federation of America Conference & Expo in Orlando. Independence is touted as one of the association’s four pillars, in addition to choice, dignity, and quality of life.

As an association, ALFA focuses on three areas, Grimes said: “First is advocating for the seniors we serve; second is raising the bar for excellence in senior living; and third is serving as the voice for senior living so we can reach the public, lawmakers, and media to help them understand what we’re about and what we’re not about.”

So what’s top of mind with ALFA members?

“I think they’re watching the economy come back slowly,” Grimes said. “The independent living part of what we do was much more dramatically affected and that’s starting to come back. Also top of mind is providing the care they’re promising and making sure they’re staying aligned with state regulations. Our members far exceed the regulations; the regulations are really there for what I call the nonprofessional types. We’re about professionally managed senior living communities.”

Healthcare reform is, not surprisingly, the big issue that keeps Grimes up in the wee hours. “We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, to see how healthcare reform is going to affect people, whether it comes to pass or if it’s going to be changed,” Grimes said.

“I think we’re all worried about what that future holds. Where will people go if the states can’t support themselves? I worry about that.”

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