Google Data Sheds New Light on Senior Living Search Trends

man sitting at the MacBook retina with site Google on the screen

The adult children of seniors are often the main decision-makers when it comes to a move into senior living, but new data about how they search for senior housing can tell providers a lot about how to market to both these Baby Boomers and their parents.

Unlike their parents who have been gradually adopting technology in recent years, Boomers have long been tech-savvy in their own right.

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“We know Boomers can be found online,” said Cathy Smith, head of industry and social information vertical at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), during the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit in Chicago on Thursday.

Google, which isn’t a complete stranger to the health and aging marketplace, has within the last couple of years started to research how Boomers and seniors use the Internet.

In October 2014, the Silicon Valley tech giant surveyed more than 2,000 younger and older Boomers between ages 50-58 and 59-68, asking them a variety of questions, including what they type into search engines when researching senior living options and what specific features they are looking for when they initiate the search process.

About 75% of respondents are using search engines to find more information on senior living, most commonly Google.

“When we talk to consumers who are searching online — we survey a lot of people — virtually everyone starts their Internet journey at Google,” said Katie Roper, vice president of sales at Caring.com, an online resource that helps seniors and their families search for various senior living and care options.

There are nuances, however, in whether Boomers are researching for themselves or on someone else’s behalf, like a spouse or family member, she added.

“When Boomers are searching for themselves, they tend to look for things like independent living or 55+ active communities,” said Marc Heneghan, senior analytical lead for social and information vertical at Google. “But when they’re looking for others, they tend to look for things like skilled nursing or assisted living communities.”

Most Boomers who searched online for senior living for themselves were typically looking for community and lifestyle features such as activities and events, quality of food, pets, transportation options and room sizes, according to the Google survey data.

But when looking into senior living options for a loved one, be it a spouse or other family member, search queries became more interested in finding out care types and medical services offered at communities, along with proximity to the hospital and staff-to-resident ratio.

In terms of their Internet use, Google found that Boomers were spending up to 23 hours per week online, with the majority of survey respondents using email, reading the news, shopping, leverage social networks and watching video, which commanded over 50% of respondents’ online use.

“If you’re in marketing or sales and you’re trying to reach these folks [Boomers], you know this is where they’re spending their time online,” Smith said.

Written by Jason Oliva

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