In 1990 fresh out of college, Steve Gurney saw firsthand what his family dealt with to find his grandfather a suitable nursing home. At that time he was surprised to find that there wasn’t a guide out there to help people. There needed to be an objective way to look at the important options for the care of a beloved family member. Steve decided to create one!
“At the time I didn’t think I was starting a business. I just thought I was putting a great project on my resume to get a better job in the future.”
Steve excelled at developing the Retirement Living Sourcebook, and it became his future. People praised the publication, so he kept going. Initially, the guide served the DC metro region, over time he worked to cover much of the Mid-Atlantic region.
“All the research and publication work was funded by advertising. We made sure the guide was very objective in listing all options, not just those that opted to advertise.”
With the onset of the Internet, the guide went digital in 1995. In 1998, Steve sold the business to The Washington Post. Steve continued to run it for them for over 20 years as the General Manager of the Sourcebook and the Senior Living Solutions Division. In 2019 he bought back the guide and rebranded it as the Positive Aging Sourcebook.
Since rebranding, he has continued to expand his aging resources. He runs a community, the ProAging Network. This network is for professionals and others interested in aging-related matters and resources.
“People find it very hard to talk about topics of eldercare and aging in place. Many people are in some form of denial about aging. Just because you are growing older doesn’t mean you need eldercare options and services. But you need to know the options and resources available - if and when - you need them.”
ProAging Network offers live and virtual events and a community where online discussions help people understand the aging options available to them.
“We offer live and interactive discussions. Plus if you can’t make the event there are recordings you can listen to at your leisure. When we started these a year ago we thought it would be solely for the professional community. However, we have been pleasantly surprised by how many older adults and family members are tuning in and asking some of the best questions.”
Planning for aging and knowing the options helps to make transitions throughout life easier, for everyone involved. ProAging Network offers events led by professionals where attendees can get their questions answered. This can help put family and older adults at ease as they understand the options available and seek to find the ones that best meet their needs.
Steve’s role in aging has also grown as he has expanded his community. He serves or has served on the board of directors for the Grass Roots Organization for the Well-Being of Seniors (GROWS), Alzheimer’s Association, Interages, Business and Aging Task Force, Virginia Intergenerational Task Force, and the Beacon Institute. He also provides guidance to help organizations and businesses better serve the senior population. Plus he is an adjunct professor at Erickson School of Aging Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). There he teaches both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Steve firmly believes that aging should be an intergenerational experience. He helped to co-found an intergenerational village that helps to foster an ideal community to live in for a lifetime. And he didn’t do that without preparation.
Thirteen years ago he moved in and lived in 5 different senior living communities as a resident despite only being 42-43 at that time.
“At the time I was highly regarded with 20 years experience as an expert in this area. But I realized it was sort of like working in a restaurant and not eating the food. So I became a temporary resident at multiple senior living communities. It was a very eye-opening experience.”
These experiences helped Steve to truly understand the needs of someone making these housing transitions. Plus Steve didn’t do this research alone. At one of the locations his son, who was 6 years old at the time, moved in with him too!
“Even though I’ve made my living in this senior living sector. I am adamant to stop age segregation in these communities. We think it is normal to segregate by age, but the reason that people don’t want to move to these places is that they are age-segregated. We need to create communities where both young and older people want to live!”
Living in these senior living communities gave him a new perspective on aging and what community living should look like.
Want to learn more about Steve’s experiences in senior living communities?
Join the GetSetUp event Guest Speaker: A Different Perspective on Senior Living with Steve Gurney. At this event, you will learn more about senior living choices, creative solutions related to aging in place, and a new perspective on what can be a challenging life stage on Tuesday, October 19th.
Start your research on aging living options with someone who has literally lived there!
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