Joe Pohlen - Caring for Elders & Why it's Important to Have Daughters


12 December 2021

40 mins 36 secs

Season 2

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode

Joe is the owner of Cardinal Senior Management, an operator of assisted living communities in the Untied States. Joe started the company with his business partner in 2015 and hopes to continue their growth in the coming decade with a focus on affordability and decentralized leadership. Joe lives in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife and 4 year old son.

Standout Quotes:

  • "Unless someone's livelihood and their family’s livelihood depends on what you're doing, you're not an entrepreneur" - [Joe]
  • "Unfortunately, the US gets a reputation for not caring for our elderly the way a lot of other countries care for their elderly" - [Joe]
  • "If you want your family interacting with you in the US, I would recommend having daughters or making sure that you're close with your daughters-in-law" - [Joe]
  • "No one really cares what you have to say, it's your actions and your consistency" - [Joe]

Key Takeaways:

  • Joe Pohlen is the owner and Partner at Cardinal Senior Management, an operator of assisted living communities in the U.S. with a specialty in affordable assisted living.
  • Joe started his career in Student Housing which was doing well but he wondered if that was his purpose in life. Knowing a few people who were working in assisted living and doing well, Joe started to figure out how to get into this field with his partner, Chuck. He started his journey and grew successfully.
  • Joe manages assisted living facilities where inhabitants pay ahead covering housing, activities, and care; the big challenge, however, is that more seniors lack the financial resources to move into the facility. The solution to this would have to involve the federal government. For families who cannot afford the cost, they would first be moved in with a roommate, and Medicaid will be involved to pay a lower price to help retain the care of the elderly. There are plans to implement other strategies to help improve the care for the elderly especially for those who do not have the financial capacity required.
  • The majority of decisions in a family are made by the oldest daughter and also most visits are usually from daughters, hence it pays to build good relationships with the daughters to encourage visits from the families.
  • Families also need to have conversations about steps to be taken to address issues related to the welfare of the elderly in different scenarios. People move into assisted living for two reasons, one is that they decide it's the right thing for them, and the second is when they lack a choice in the matter because the decision has been made for them. Those who decide on their own have a more successful experience.
  • Joe and his wife had previously decided not to have a kid but they changed their decision in the lockdown, deciding to adopt a kid who they were strongly emotionally drawn to, without anticipating it. He hopes his son will learn from him especially through his actions.
  • From experience, Joe observed that most families hand down wealth to the next generation very poorly and it often fails, hence he has always planned to spend his wealth rather than go through the same ordeal in trying to pass it down. His focus is on giving more of an education to equip his kid with the right tools to live successfully.
  • Joe's letter to his kid: "You are enough, your accomplishments are not the definition of who you are. Your mom and I love you. Continue to treat people how you want to be treated. If you go through this world doing the right thing even when it's hard, it will work out just fine for you"

Episode Timeline:

  • [00:50] Introducing our guest for today, Joe Pohlen.
  • [01:41] About Joe's background
  • [05:27] How did you build your team to provide care rather than just storage?
  • [11:56] How do you handle families that cannot afford the cost of assisted living care?
  • [18:20] How do you encourage more frequent family visits?
  • [21:06] How can a family discuss the topic of assisted living for their elderly?
  • [26:44] About Joe's personal and family life.
  • [38:50] Joe's letter to his kids.

For more episodes go to

Sign up for The Business of Family Newsletter

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeBoyd

If you feel it's appropriate, I'd so appreciate you taking 30 seconds to Leave a Review on iTunes, I receive a notification of each review. Thank you!

Episode Links

  • Cardinal Senior Management – Mindful Stewards with Bold Results — Joe is the owner of Cardinal Senior Management, an operator of assisted living communities in the Untied States. Cardinal Senior Management corporate offices are based in Grand Rapids, MI. Co-founders Chuck Gray and Joe Pohlen began the company with an idea of finding unique properties that needed a fresh culture and an opportunity for turnaround. Autumn House East and West in York PA were the first buildings and community for the company.
  • Home - Care Cardinal — Care Cardinal provides an intimate, home-like setting where staff and residents interact like family. We’re rethinking and redesigning how to care for residents.
  • Home - Live Cardinal — Live Cardinal provides care, compassion, and dignity in their residential care homes that truly have a home-like setting. We believe that senior members of society should live out their golden years with dignity and respect, remain active and involved in their community to the best of their ability, and be surrounded by friends, old and new. Assisted living is not the only housing option for an older adult who needs care. An emerging alternative is a residential care home, which provide care to small groups of adults, typically over age 60. Live Cardinal specializes in this unique form of living for seniors: A residential care home for those who cannot live independently, but hate the idea of a large institutional setting.