Do you really know what factors make the biggest impact in senior care living decisions?

By Steve Moran

I bet you had no idea . . .

  • If an elder is living with a younger family member, they almost never, ever move into a senior living community.
  • The loneliness factor almost never motivates family members to investigate and move their elders into senior living.
  • More than 1/3 of the time it takes more than 60 days for a move-in decision to be made.
  • Many, many prospects have no accurate idea about how they heard about your senior living community.

Back Filling – Where This Data Came From, a Senior Housing Forum Partner, recently commissioned a survey to take a look at the “Caregiver Journey.” They were interested in exploring three segments of the process:

1)  Elders living independently in their own homes but receiving unpaid assistance from relatives (most often adult children).

2)  Elders living with adult children or other relatives.

3)  Elders living in senior living communities.

The online survey of 2,098 people was conducted by an outside third party over the period of July 8 through August 10, 2015. All of the survey takers had searched for senior care assistance.

Some Key Findings

You can access a detailed survey summary here, but some key points:

  • Once an older adult moves in with their family member(s), they are often there for the long term. Half of those living together had been doing so longer than three years, and only 10% of those who moved to a senior living community were living in a family member’s home before that move.
  • Families coping with Alzheimer’s disease were 25% less likely than other caregivers to agree with the statement: “Families should take care of each other, no matter what.”
  • Loneliness doesn’t prompt adult children to move their parent(s) to a senior living community; only 8% of survey respondents mentioned it as a factor.  The overwhelming driver of residential community move-ins is a medical diagnosis (58%), followed by the needs of the caregiving family member (27%).
  • More people rely on consumer reviews on the Internet than on recommendations by professionals or medical personnel.
  • Those whose loved ones had moved to a senior living community were twice as likely to be satisfied with their care situation as those whose loved ones still lived independently.


When Katie Roper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for, first shared these statistics with me last week, I was startled and excited about the findings because they suggest ways we can tell our story much better.

  • The findings suggest that with respect to life satisfaction and stress reduction, the big winners when an elder moves into a senior living community are the family members . . . and maybe not the residents themselves. I found myself thinking marketing efforts might be a lot more effective if they were targeted more specifically at how family members benefit from moving their elder into senior living. 

    This is not an automatic no brainer, largely because we all suffer from “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The challenge is in figuring out how to explore the stress and anxiety family members are experiencing and creating an opportunity to talk about how senior living benefits family members.  

  • If an elder is living with a family member, those prospects should go to near the bottom of the priority list for aggressive follow-up. It is pretty simple really, they are just very unlikely to move.
  • The reality is that more than 1/3 of all move-in decisions took more than three months suggest some opportunities:
    • There needs to be a carefully crafted strategy for long-term lead nurturing, something that everyone sort of tries to do but does not happen very well. Senior Housing Forum Partners, SoftVu and Sherpa CRM, are doing some great things in this area.
    • It seems likely there is an opportunity to increase that number. It is very possible that the rest that never made the move got discouraged and gave up. It seems likely there is gold in those first inquiries if there is an on-going drip campaign.

If you would like a deeper dive, is offering a free public webinar on October 8, 2015, where we will go into more detail on the survey findings. To register, visit