The median amount of time spent searching for a senior living solution is 46 days, according to newly released data from A Place for Mom. But there are so many factors that contribute to search length—all at unequal rates, and all of which senior living marketing teams would do well to consider.
The search length doubles, for instance, when a senior is searching for assisted living without support from family, friends or a professional, as opposed to when a senior is searching with such support, the senior living referral service found. And although 25% of seniors seeking a senior living solution search by themselves, seniors who search by themselves represent just 7% of all senior housing move-ins—indicating the remaining two-thirds eventually abandon their search.
This knowledge alone presents an opportunity for senior living marketers to be more proactive, according to Charlie Severn, A Place for Mom’s vice president of brand marketing. Armed with this knowledge, marketers can do more on their end to ensure seniors move in to their communities more quickly.
“When working with a senior who is searching for themselves or for their spouse, consider marketing materials that encourage them to get a trusted family member or financial advisor involved in their search even if they don’t have immediate care needs,” Severn tells Senior Housing News. “Getting another person involved can provide the additional support that is needed and with that support they are likely to move in more quickly.”
A Place for Mom’s findings are based on a sample of more than 125,000 families that the company helped move into a U.S. retirement community, assisted living community, residential care home, memory care community or senior apartment between 2012 and 2015.
The level of care a senior requires is the best predictor of how long it will take to find a senior living solution, the findings show. The more care a senior needs, the shorter the search will be.
Seniors who are fully mobile take 58 days to find a senior living solution, for instance, which is 37 days longer than bedridden seniors and 18 days longer than seniors who use a walker. Seniors who require bathing assistance find a solution 28 days faster than fully mobile seniors, and those who require medication assistance spend 27 fewer days searching than those who do not.
When all’s said and done, care needs are twice as important as all of the other factors combined, according to A Place for Mom.
Meanwhile, seniors selling a home to fund their move into an independent living community search 29 days longer than similar seniors who do not have to sell a home, the data show.
Senior living marketing teams can respond to this by offering sufficient educational resources to families about selling a home and moving into senior living, A Place for Mom suggests.
About 25% of seniors move into senior living within three weeks, the data show—demonstrating that many families are making a big decision in a short amount of time.
“It’s surprising that so many families need to find senior care so quickly, given that it’s such an important decision,” Sue Johansen, A Place for Mom director of senior living advisors, West Coast, tells SHN.
There are steps marketing teams can take to better prepare seniors for these decisions when they must be made quickly, she says.
“Provide families with opportunities to plan for senior living early, such as caregiver support groups, or to ease into senior living through hourly care,” Johansen says. “Encouraging families to get their initial physical and health history forms can also familiarize them with the process before a care needs emergency.”
Still, every senior is different, with different wants and needs. Marketing teams would do well to consider this as well.
“Marketers will have to build relationships with different families in different ways,” Johansen adds. For instance, for families in early research, marketers should consider how that relationship will develop over time, and have tools to keep that relationship fresh.
A Place for Mom has also introduced the Chart Your Course interactive tool, which is designed to enable people to estimate how long they will take to find senior living.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson