What Does—and Does Not—Trigger a Senior Living Move-In

Medical diagnoses and the needs of a caregiving family member are more likely to drive senior living move-ins than social factors, according to new research from third-party referral agent Caring.com.

From July 8 to Aug. 10, Caring.com conducted a survey of 2,098 people aimed at examining the caregiver journey. All those surveyed had searched online for senior care assistance, though specific search terms varied.

About 58% of adult children who participated in the survey indicated that a medical diagnosis prompted them to seek out senior housing for a parent, while 27% said their own needs led them to make such a move. Only 8% mentioned loneliness as significant in their decision-making, according to the survey.

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“Clearly if its a medical situation or a change in family needs, you have to move right now,” Katie Roper, Caring.com’s vice president of sales, tells SHN. “But what about the 92% who say loneliness is not a factor to move parents into a community? Is it because they don’t know?”

Socialization has become increasingly important in the senior housing space, as providers look for innovative ways to engage their residents and new solutions to attract younger residents. But Roper says the social aspect of senior living isn’t being effectively portrayed or entirely understood.

“It may be that loneliness doesn’t resonate with this population, or that the senior housing industry isn’t doing a good job of communicating what an issue that is,” Roper says. “And it might be more of a decision point if the [children] knew more about it.”

The survey also suggests that older adults who live with their adult children are there for the long-term, rarely moving to senior housing following a stint with a family member. In fact, just 10% of those who moved to a senior living community had previously lived at a family member’s home, according to the survey.

Further, more people rely on online consumer reviews than recommendations from professionals when choosing senior housing, and few had local knowledge of the communities in their area, according to the survey. Only 12% took the advice of a doctor or hospital in selecting a community, while 30% used an online directory and 21% used online consumer reviews. Meanwhile, 40% knew of nearby senior housing and used that background as a decision point.

“A lot of providers say they’re not going to do any marketing either online or offline, because they believe their space is well-known in the area,” Roper says. “This clearly says that is not the case.”

The survey revealed a variety of other findings, including:

  • Paid Caregiving: More than one-third of those surveyed said paid caregiving help was beneficial, including seniors living independently or with a loved one.
  • Satisfaction: Respondents with loved ones who had moved to a senior living community were twice as likely to be satisfied with their care situation, as compared to those whose loved ones still lived independently.
  • Length of Stay: Of the 24% of participants who are living in a community themselves, 62% had lived there longer than a year, while just 20% had lived there longer than three years.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt

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