In July, A Place for Mom released key findings around how long it takes, on average, for families to complete their search for the right senior living option. The findings were developed by Ben Hanowell, APFM Data Scientist, based on a sample of over 125,000 families who APFM and our partners have helped move-in to senior living between 2012 – 2015. The findings from this study were used to encourage families to start their planning earlier and to provide them the resources to do so through our Planning and Advice section of our website.
In this post, we want to share some of the key findings from the study as well as provide some tips on how you might personalize your sales approach based these stats and trends.
Key Finding #1: 50% of families referred by APFM end up moving into a community within 46 days
Even as the awareness of senior living options grows, we still find most families are not proactively planning for a senior living transition. When families finally start their search they often need to help their parents make a quick transition due to health related issues. This is a very stressful situation for most families.
How You Can Help:
- Reassure the family that they their situation is not unusual; many other families find themselves in urgent situations and your community will help them make a seamless and successful transition.
- Help families coordinate by providing a “Manage Your Move” kit to identify actions they need to take prior to moving in such as:
- Gather documents such as durable power of attorney and a living will.
- Visit a physician for a physical and create list of medications and medical history.
- Create a transition plan with all family members who will be involved in the move.
- Consolidate possessions to enable a move to a smaller apartment or living environment.
- Meet with a local realtor if thinking of selling a home.
- Inform families how your community can be easily accessible should they need to make a quick transition. Families that are moving a loved one from a hospital or rehab will want confidence they can immediately access the community. Connecting the family to your community’s RN or LPN can help build confidence.
Key Finding #2: Seniors who search on their own take twice as long vs. those who have support
We know that many seniors want to remain in control, even in life’s later years. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the Greatest Generation and beyond. The challenge many seniors face is that managing a move on their own can be overwhelming and they need help.
How You Can Help:
- Do your best to understand family dynamics.
- Encourage prospective residents to bring along a family member or a friend on the tour to serve as a sounding board and keep track of key information.
- If the prospective resident does tour alone, schedule the tour during an activity or invite a current resident to join for lunch or coffee
Key Finding #3: Planned budgets make a difference
Seniors with higher incomes and larger monthly budgets for senior care take more time to find a senior living solution on average, unless they need assisted living or memory care support.
Families with a monthly budget of $6,000 or more search 55% (29 days) longer for retirement communities than those with a monthly budget between $1,500 and $2,000. However, this changes when a senior has acute care needs because families with higher budgets tend to find a solution immediately (11 days faster compared to families in similar situations with a monthly budget of $1,500 to $2,000).
How You Can Help:
- Families with a larger budget and lower care needs have more options available to them as well as the flexibility to take their time in making a decision.
- Understand what is important to the family, especially around lifestyle options, and invite them back for multiple visits that include events and activities they will love.
- Don’t be afraid to share the full spectrum of what your community offers from various apartments sizes to events and activities that might occur outside the community.
Key Finding #4: Nearly 10% of families take more than one year to move-in
Some families searching for senior living take extra time before making a decision and moving in. In fact, nearly 5 percent of seniors take more than one and a half years to move into a senior living solution, while 3 percent take two or more years. Seniors that need care but have limited financial resources may delay their transition by living with a family member or using home care. Other times seniors aren’t emotionally ready to move into senior living, with 1.3 percent of families reporting that they don’t expect to move until over a year after they inquire (on average, however, these families move in after six months).
How You Can Help:
- Understand if a family is likely to take an extended period of time during their search and create a sales process that works for both you and the prospective family:
- Does that family need to sell a home to support a move? If yes, the search will likely be extended 1 – 2 months.
- Does the senior require a lot of ADLs? If no, the search will likely increase to 2 – 3 months as that family likely has flexibility to do additional research.
- A small percentage of families are truly just starting their research. For these families, focus on setting an appropriate follow up strategy and on giving them resources to assist with things like selling a home, accessing the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit, or discussing senior living options with loved ones.
- There are some families that want to ease their way into this transition. Here is an example provided by one of APFM’s partner communities:
- “Hourly care is a great option for families who need memory care but want to ease into a care setting,” said Lesley Yanak, director of marketing at Koelsch Communities. “A loved one can join one of our communities for the afternoon while the caregiver runs errands, knowing their loved one is being cared for and enjoying their time. Families also feel less stress when they plan early. Completing health history forms before a crisis can minimize stress and expedite a move if necessary. Seniors looking for independent living may feel less stress by moving slowly into a community while keeping their home, giving them choices without a rush to make decisions.”
We hope you have found this information and related tips helpful. If you have other recommendations you’d like to share, we’ll look to include them in a follow-up post. (Email: email@example.com)