Dec 16, 2022

Sunbound Asks: David Hopkins of ALG Senior

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we had the pleasure of sitting down with David Hopkins, Executive Director at ALG Senior, and a senior living advisor to the Sunbound team. We had an amazing time welcoming David to the blog and learning all about his time in senior living, from his favorite memories of working with older adults, to his favorite tips and advice for families looking for senior living. To learn more about David and his career in senior living check out our interview below.

Q: How long have you been working in senior living?

A: I’ve been in senior living for about 7 years, and in healthcare for about 15.


Q: How’d you get into the senior living industry?

A: It’s actually really funny because I had always said I would never work in senior living after I had helped five family members find and move into senior living. But when you say you’re not going to do something, God says that’s what you’re going to do. I had a really good mentor who was an Executive VP at Walt Disney World and who had been one of my career mentors for about 20 years. I was getting coffee with him one day and was complaining about my 45 minute commute to the hospital system I was working for (I was really having a pity party for myself). He got so frustrated with me that he slammed his coffee cup down, and said “either live where you work, or work where you live” and then walked out the door. I thought “well I really love talking to this guy, so I better figure this out.” I knew the owners of a local senior living community that was looking for an executive director. I thought that I might be a long shot because I had only worked in healthcare and not senior living, but I got the job and it’s been nonstop ever since.


Q: What’s your favorite thing about working in senior living?

A: I have A.D.D. and senior living is perfect because, even if I plan out my day, I can walk in at 8:30 and by 8:31 the plan for the day is gone. I might have to go to culinary, or I might have to talk to a family, or I might need to make finance calls or talk to maintenance or a resident. It’s always something different each day. If you like having a job where you can come in and do the same checklist each day, then senior living is not the industry for you.


Q: What’s your favorite memory from working in senior living?

A: In my first community I ended up doing a lot of funerals and memorial services because I got to know the residents and their families so well. I was planning a memorial service for a woman and I knew she had worked for the Chicago Bears, so I reached out to them to ask if they could send a letter or some well wishes. The woman who picked up the phone totally stonewalled me, she was definitely their gatekeeper for a reason, but said she would get back to me. Three days later I see a Chicago number on the phone and since we don’t see many of those in Florida, I picked up right away. It was the woman from the other day, and she told me “believe it or not but the woman you called about used to do my job.” She had worked for the Bears during their Super Bowl championship year and so she asked for our address because she wanted to handle it all personally. The next week when the family came for the memorial service we had a giant, framed Chicago Bears Jersey with her last name, and the number 85 from the year she worked for the team. There was also a letter from the chairman of the board, which was also signed by a ton of players, mourning the passing of their teammate, saying they never could have done it without her. Being able to connect her family with these amazing moments from her life was such a special gift and something I’ll never forget.


Q: What advice would you give someone who is looking for senior living?

A: To talk to your friends and to talk to your neighbors, because undoubtedly someone has already gone through this. If you have a team or a tribe that you can go through this with, it’s going to be 10 times easier. Everyone thinks they’re on an island alone, and that can be scary. But a lot of people have gone through this. The first time I went through helping a relative move into senior living, I knew nothing. The second time thought I had it down. But each time I helped a relative move into senior living the journey took a totally different path. I’ve done this journey five times now, and it’s always a learning experience. So the more people you can have supporting you and sharing their experience the better.


Q: Do you have a favorite tip for how families can talk to a parent about moving to senior living?

A: I’ve had this conversation five times, and the best thing to keep in mind with this conversation is the sooner the better. Make sure to talk about senior living before you have to talk about senior living. And also keep in mind that you don’t need to discuss everything all at once. Sometimes it’s easier to discuss one topic at a time, and leave a trail of bread crumbs for you to return to as a family. Start by talking about driving, or by asking general questions like if your parents have thought of something like a living will. A very valuable thing about starting the conversations early that people sometimes don’t realize, is that it allows older adults and their families to make a plan while the older adult is still all there mentally. This can give the family great comfort later on that they’re actually acting on their parent’s wishes, because they made them while they were still of sound mind. Another thing that I focus on, particularly when I’m talking to an older adult thinking about moving into senior living, is that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to systematically organize your end of life. I know it sounds morbid, but if you don’t plan out where you’ll be living, who will be taking care of you, and what happens when you’re gone, it can cause a lot of turmoil for your family that you can avoid by planning together beforehand.


Q: What’s your favorite new trend in senior living?

A: There’s been an increased focus on the fact that older people are really cool! People have some amazing stories. I really love that senior living in general has improved by leaps and bounds. When I started the family journeys in the early 1980’s, for example, the senior living industry did not have a great understanding of how to treat dementia. Often times people would live in hospital-type, pea green rooms with linoleum floors. But now communities have transformed into really amazing living spaces, particularly when it comes to treating seniors with dementia. I love seeing all the amazing new spaces that allow seniors to live with such dignity.


Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about senior living?

A: That it’s not scary. People are understandably really scared to talk about end of life. People view death as a disease but death is something that happens to everybody and it’s a journey we’re all on from the minute we're born. Impacting the last years of someone’s life is one of the greatest honors you can have. Helping a World War II veteran who stormed the beaches at Normandy and freed a town from the Nazis to live with dignity at the end of their life is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had. But people are so afraid to talk about the end of life that they sometimes lose opportunities to revere the end of life.


Q: If you weren’t working in senior living, what else would you be doing?

A: I would love to be a charter boat captain in the Caribbean. I’m a big sailor from growing up on Cape Cod. I grew up on the water and there’s something really soothing about being on the ocean. So I would definitely be down in the Caribbean and away from the cold.


Q: What senior living resources would you suggest for our readers?

A: I would definitely check out The Alzheimer’s Association because they have some really amazing resources. But the most impactful resource is always going to be your friends and family. Most of us never realize that someone in our life has already gone through this journey, and so we fail to reach out. If you see a bad restaurant review but a friend says it’s great, you’re going to listen to your friend. It’s the same with senior living.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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