Arrow Senior Living Writing Style Guide

Arrow Core Values

I believe acts of kindness can drive change in the world.

I listen to understand.

I consistently and firmly advocate for fairness.

I defend the dignity of others.

I choose to have a childlike sense of wonder and be fascinated, not frustrated.

I solve problems and my answer is always yes.

I understand that transparency builds trust.

I strive to be humble.

I believe in the power of a chuckle.

Writing Intent & Core Values

With every piece of content we publish, we strive to:


Help people to see past their preconceptions of seniors and senior living by informing and encouraging them to continue their exploration. We share culture and information equally. Experiencing the culture is often an excellent gateway to discovering more information.


Share with readers what they need to know and provide opportunities to learn more. Don’t assume that readers have any knowledge of senior living or even a desire to learn. Many seek information from a position of necessity, so respect their time and be direct. Be kind, compassionate, empathetic, and thorough.


Cite original sources whenever possible. Senior living (and many topics relevant to seniors) don’t require verbose language, grandiose claims, or dramatic storytelling. Simple, relevant, and meaningful information is our real strength. If an original source is not available, cite as near to the original source as possible; do not site other senior blogs as sources unless absolutely necessary.


Don’t market to readers, communicate with them. Don’t patronize. Respect the reader’s time. Be considerate and inclusive. Don’t ever hide information from the reader or ask the reader to take an action to receive additional information.


“That’s good. You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” – Obi Wan Kenobi

Regardless of their relationship to the senior (including the senior themselves), stepping into the world of senior living can be a mix of emotions, many negative. It’s not enough to educate – you must also be a voice of reassurance, comfort, and encouragement. Affirm and validate the reader when appropriate. Their experience may seem very overwhelming.

Voice and Tone

We differentiate ourselves as the leading source of information for senior-related topics in part by staying mindful of our voice and tone. While we as authors speak with one voice, we understand that tone varies by circumstance and emotional state.


For content to be accessible, it must first be approachable. All content therefore should be:


Use simple words and simple sentences. Do not use industry jargon or acronyms.


When you begin writing, think of your audience from a position of empathy. How are you serving them? What is the purpose of your writing? What information would be most useful?


Write as you speak – human to human – in a friendly, cordial, casual environment. Break a few rules of writing if it makes you feel more relatable. Lead with warmth, compassion, and humor.


Adapt to the topic you are writing about as though you are talking with the reader face-to-face. Be mindful that your tone is appropriate to the situation.


At Arrow Senior Living, we’ve lived and breathed senior living as residents in our own communities, experiencing the challenges and triumphs as those we serve. That’s why we speak with empathy and authority on senior-related topics. We take the benefits of senior living seriously and want to educate readers about our experience without patronizing them.

We write and think from a unique perspective – from a position of “me” and “us,” not of “them” or “those people.” We aren’t strangers to offbeat, witty, and wry humor and favor a conversational over professional tone.

We understand that readers may encounter us from the perspective of necessity, not desire, and may be experiencing negative emotions like fear, sadness, or grief. We are writing to inform and encourage, as counselors or mentors, with clarity and empathy.

We are forthright

We understand that our readers have unique experiences that have drawn them to our content. We don’t muddy that content with hyperbole, upselling, gating, or over-promising. We value clarity and speak from a position of authority.

We are human

“A search for the right place is a search for the right people.” – Mary Pipher, author of Another Country

First and foremost we are in a service industry – people serving people of all races, genders, and preferences. We manage senior living from the perspective of the resident – a perspective that encompasses a wide range of interests, hobbies, and histories. We relate to readers’ passions and challenges and speak in an accessible, familiar way.

We are counselors

Many of our readers face some of the most emotionally challenging decisions they will ever encounter. We bear the responsibility of compassionately guiding them through their struggles and challenges with empathy and understanding.

We value the power of a chuckle

The senior industry is full of technical jargon and clinical representations. Our voice is far more approachable and includes a wry and witty sense of humor. While we don’t cross the line into anything inappropriate, we might be considered a bit weird and strange. We are never condescending or rude.


We speak in a generally informal tone but always favor clarity over entertainment. We stay mindful that our tone reflects the content we are writing about. We consider the readers’ state of mind and adjust accordingly. We are humorous when there are natural opportunities, but we don’t force humor into topics where that is not an appropriate tone.


Active Voice

We always write in an active voice and avoid a passive voice.

No jargon, acronyms, or industry terminology

Except where absolutely necessary, we think that industry jargon and acronyms violate the dignity of our readers. Many industry terms “other” the prospective resident, turning their experience into clinical speak instead of empathizing with their experience. Many terms are so industry-specific that they are not part of the vernacular of the reader and can lead to misunderstanding.

The F Words

Arrow’s catalog of forbidden words started many years ago with the dreaded leader of the foul-words pack: facility.

We believe that changing the perception and experience of senior living begins with changing how we think of senior living, naturally changing the way we communicate.

As a practical example, nobody wants to commit their elderly to a room in a facility where they are provided with dining and activities. Not only does that not respect the dignity of the resident or reader, it grossly misrepresents the experience of residents at Arrow communities. We would, instead, want a resident to select their apartment in a social community where they could enjoy a restaurant and amenities like daily events and entertainment.

The List

Don’t say: Do say:
Facility Community
Cafeteria/Dining Room/Meals Restaurant
Meals in senior living communities are almost entirely served to the residents in a sit-down restaurant setting.
Dementia unit Memory care
Elderly (or aged) Older adults
Final years / last years / etc. Next stage in life (or similar)
Nursing home Skilled Nursing Facility
Nursing home is more and more an outdated term for a past concept of senior housing that has negative connotations for older adults. Nursing homes lacked the services, amenities, activities, and home-like feel of modern senior living communities. Skilled nursing facility accurately describes long-term acute care where specially licensed nurses and staff provide specific and required care to patients in a long-term environment. This differentiation is important information for the audience to understand the differences between assisted living and memory care and their capabilities in contrast with the necessary role skilled nursing facilities serve for the population who require specialized care.
Retirees Active older adults
It’s not uncommon for people to retire in their 50s, and they are definitely not looking to move to a senior living community at that age.
Senior / seniors’ housing Senior living
“Senior housing” is an industry term that refers more to the operational side of running the senior living communities than the actual “experience” side of residing in a senior living community.
Senior housing facility Senior living community
Terms like “housing” and “facility” can have negative connotations that can make one think of college dorms, low-income housing, warehouses, institutions, etc.
Room/unit Apartment
Regardless of the level of care provided, senior community lifestyles should always be communicated as independently as possible.
Duplex/Condo Villa
For communities that do include detached homes, Arrow universally uses the term “Villa” despite “duplex” or “senior duplex” being commonly associated with the lifestyle. Many residents will use the word “townhome,” which we may also use verbally, but not in writing.
Activities Events & Entertainment
Approach changing “activities” to “events” from a place of empathy. Schoolchildren engage in “activities.” As adults, we pick and choose from a wide range of events that the community hosts, from educational series to professional exercises like tai chi and even major trips like visiting a local brewery. Going to a yoga studio on Thursdays is not something we would think of as an “activity,” and speaking from the perspective of the “events” we have planned communicates the respect and sophistication of the social programs and defers to the agency of residents to pick and choose what they want to participate in.

Wiring about Lifestyles

Over the years a great deal of thought and attention has been devoted to how the various amenities and lifestyles are presented.  Below is a comprehensive list and some breakdown of how we think of senior living.

  • Event areas:
    • Library
    • Theater
    • Crafts room
    • Wellness center that may include exercise equipment appropriate for older adults
    • Lounges with couches, chairs, and televisions
    • Outdoor areas like patios, porches, walking paths, and garden areas
  • Amenities:
    • Salon / barbershop / nail salon
    • Pool
    • A luxury vehicle and a bus for scheduled outings to shopping, activities, and events or personal transportation to appointments (personal, medical, etc.)
    • Resident Services Director who leads a schedule of events and entertainment and coordinates resident concierge services
    • A wide variety of events and entertainment, both inside and outside of the community. Some standards still persist (such as professional visiting singers), but events we highlight include ideas with stopping power for a prospect:
      • Skydiving
      • Going to tour a brewery or winery
      • Local museums
      • Golfing at a golf course
      • Ladies’ tea and ladies clubs
      • Men’s breakfast, veteran groups, and social hour
      • Happy hour weekly with live entertainment
      • 5-course candlelight dinners
      • Note: We strive to create separation from the cliché history of bingo, bad performance groups, etc. that are part of the public’s impression of senior living
    • Dining options:
      • A branded restaurant open 7a – 7p. It is a full-service experience where breakfast is available all-day and residents choose from a menu of 50+ always-available options in addition to daily chef specials.
      • A bistro where residents may enjoy 24-hour grab-and-go snacks, drinks, and a quick form of service from the restaurant. The bistros are branded to the restaurant.
      • A private dining room available for special gatherings
      • A café area with coffee and grab-and-go snacks. We call this area a demonstration kitchen (or country kitchen for the MO properties) and couple the amenity with live cooking demonstrations and special events

Independent Living:

    • Suited for active older adults who are typically aged mid-70s and older and who do not require personal assistance, can manage their own medications, can prepare their own meals, and may still drive.

    • Independent living communities may provide any or all of the following services: the option to have meals in a restaurant, wellness and safety check-ins, housekeeping, laundry, events and entertainment, and transportation to shopping, activities, events, and medical appointments.

    • Independent living accommodations may be apartments such as a studio, one bedroom suite, two bedroom suite, or larger. Some are detached patio homes, villas, or duplex villas, and may even have a garage. All IL accommodations typically include a kitchen with refrigerator, stovetop, oven, and sink. Most have in-apartment laundry as well. A reserved parking spot may be purchased separately.

    • Residents supply their own furniture.

Assisted Living:

    • Suited for older adults who may require assistance with some combination of their daily activities such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, ambulation, reminders to take some medications, and medication management for other medications. Additional care for chronic medical conditions like diabetes or emphysema may be provided by care staff and would either be included in the monthly fee or at an additional fee (i.e. at a higher “level of care”). Arrow communities, except for very rare exceptions, provide personal assistance in a points-based system so that the resident is only paying for the care they receive.

    • Assisted living communities usually provide most or all of the following services: restaurant dining, daily wellness and safety check-ins, housekeeping, laundry, events and entertainment, and transportation to shopping, activities, events, and medical appointments.

    • The staff for assisted living residents are a combination of housekeepers, caregivers, caregivers who are licensed to give residents medication, and nurses of some level of certification. The care staff and nursing staff are overseen by the assisted living community’s Director of Wellness, who is usually a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and the community Care Coordinator (also an LPN).

    • Assisted living apartments are similar to independent living apartments. Kitchens are often limited to a sink, small refrigerator, counter, and cabinet space. They are commonly smaller and often have additional safety features in high-risk areas (such as the bathrooms).

    • Occasionally, assisted living apartments are shared by two residents. This is typically the case where a married couple may share a larger apartment, but there are also options available to share an apartment in order to lower the cost.

    • Residents supply their own furniture.

Memory Care:

    • Suited for residents who have a cognitive impairment such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other memory impairment.

    • Memory care care staff almost universally provide assistance with a resident’s entire daily routine (as needed) such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, ambulation, and medication management. Additional care for chronic medical conditions like diabetes, emphysema, and incontinence may be provided by care staff is gauged on a points-based system. Memory care points may include care fees for behaviors associated with dementia as well.

    • Memory care communities may be attached to assisted living or freestanding. For freestanding communities with 16 apartments or fewer, Arrow refers to memory care as a “cottage”. Attached memory care with 17+ apartments are referred to as “neighborhood.” Each features automatically locking doors to the rest of the community and to the outside, enclosed outdoor courtyards, and special areas and features for use in the care of the memory care residents.

    • Memory care provides most or all of the following services: three meals daily served in the memory care neighborhood, daily wellness and safety check-ins, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation to medical appointments.

    • The staff for memory care residents are a combination of housekeepers, highly trained care partners, and nurses of some level of certification. The care staff and nursing staff are overseen by the assisted living community’s Director of Nursing and/or by a separate Memory Care Director, who is usually an LPN. The ratio of care staff to residents is usually one caregiver to five residents or better, though we would typically not promote staffing to resident ratios in marketing materials.

    • Memory care apartments vary widely in size, but universally attempt to strike a balance between a comfortable private space while remaining part of the larger neighborhood.

    • It is not uncommon for a memory care apartment to be shared by two residents. Each may or may not have their own bedroom.

    • Residents supply their own furniture.

Respite & Adult Day Care:

    • Respite care is a short-term stay option for individuals at the assisted living or memory care levels of care. It is intended to give a home-based caregiver – usually a relative of the individual – a break from full-time personal care. The length of stay in respite care can be a few days up to several weeks.

    • Respite care provides all the services and amenities of either assisted living or memory care, but is far more common for memory care.

    • A respite care apartment is typically furnished for the resident.

    • Adult day is a common vernacular term for a guest who says at the community for a number of hours, but not overnight. In addition to using day services as a break from providing personal care, many families will combine services that have become difficult at home such as bathing/showering

IMPORTANT NOTE: “adult day” is a vernacular term that we expect to hear from families. However, the service is licensed at many communities separate from the standing assisted living license, meaning we CANNOT claim to offer “adult day” services without that license. ** We call this service “Senior Day Respite Stay”

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF):

    • Skilled nursing was historically the only form of long-term care available to older adults who required personal assistance. Many families would historically move a parent into their home to provide support and oversight, only opting for skilled nursing when the daily care needed exceeded the family’s abilities.

NOTE: hospitals and skilled nursing refer to their population as “patients.” Senior living, in contrast, only ever refers to their population as “residents.”

    • Skilled nursing facilities are now more a part of the hospital network (though they may not necessarily be connected to a hospital). They are typically broken into two sections – those who are rehabilitating from a crisis that required hospitalization and those who require skilled services long-term.

    • Rehabilitation services are typically limited by a combination of the number of days allotted by medicare for rehabilitation and the stagnation of the patient’s progress to their new ideal functionality.

    • Long-term residency in skilled nursing is typically reserved only for patients who require attendance by medical professionals, including a facility physician, RNs, LPNs, and care staff. A range of therapists is also commonly available, especially in the rehab environment.

    • Skilled nursing facilities are technically a medical environment, versus assisted living and memory care which are considered residential environments. Many skilled nursing facilities attempt to provide a more residential feel (versus an institutional hospital feel) and can incorporate scheduled activities similar to assisted living.

    • Skilled nursing staff provides assistance with personal care such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and ambulation.

    • Skilled nursing facilities usually provide most or all of the following services: three meals daily in a community dining room, housekeeping, and laundry.

    • Since skilled nursing facilities more closely resemble a medical setting, the rooms are furnished with hospital beds and typical hospital furniture.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC):

A CCRC is a hybrid of independent living, assisted living, and memory care that allows residents to move in at one level of care and move as they require more personal assistance. For example, the resident can move into independent living to enjoy meals, transportation, housekeeping, and socialization, and then receive increasing assisted living care as they age; this is referred to as “aging in place.” The main differentiators of CCRCs over other senior living communities are that a) they tend to offer many high-end services and amenities that other senior living communities don’t, and b) some charge a large initial entry fee (some in the tens of thousands of dollars), plus a monthly fee of several thousand dollars. Some CCRCs will refund a portion or all of the entry fee back to the resident or their estate should they move out or pass on. Many CCRCs are not-for-profit organizations and are often affiliated with a religious organization as well.  NOTE: No Arrow properties require this exorbitant entry fee.

Grammar and Mechanics

As a general rule, we write based on the Chicago Manual of Style. The full guide is available online here:

We are writing in an approachable, human way, so we don’t consider the guide a hard and fast set of rules to abide by. If you are unsure how to approach specific grammar or mechanics, however, it can be relied on to provide a final answer.

Oxford Comma

The series comma, known as the “Oxford Comma” is one rule we do absolutely abide by. We require any list of three or more items to use a series comma. For example:

Residents at The Boulevard enjoy restaurant dining, daily events and entertainment, and scheduled transportation.

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