Do you know the roles of the senior and the adult child in placement decision-making? Do you know what messages and platforms appeal to each audience?

By Pam McDonald

This month I caught up with Katie Roper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for, the largest online resource for people who provide care to senior loved ones and a Senior Housing Forum partner. At the Argentum Conference in Denver, Colorado, she moderated a panel discussion about multi-generational marketing.

She and her two panelists, Shannon Ingram, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Anthem Memory Care, and Cindy Longfellow, National Director of Sales and Marketing for Juniper Communities, reviewed the roles of the senior and the adult child in placement decision-making, as well as messages and platforms that appeal to each audience or both.

Research Methodology

Katie provided results of a recent online survey, as well as outcomes from research conducted by Varsity Branding, a senior living marketing and sales consulting agency with offices in Pennsylvania and New York that focuses on senior community occupancy.

For, just over 2,000 people completed their online survey: 50% of respondents were adult children or other relatives; 30% were a spouse; and 20% were the senior him- or herself. Varsity studied prospects and residents of CCRCs through online surveys from 435 respondents as well as 15 focus groups.

Move-in Rates and Motivation Found by

Adult children are involved in 73% of senior housing decisions, regardless of the care level sought. When the adult child is driving the decision (versus the senior), the move-in rate is 3 times higher. For assisted living, the move-in rate is 2.5 times higher and for independent living it’s 3.5 time higher.

The situation that prompted move-in according to’s survey were the following:

Health considerations 58%

Caregiver needs 27%

No specific reason 20%

Death of a spouse 10%

Loneliness  8%

Some Results from CCRC Residents

Among the seniors who were looking for senior living for themselves, 41% searched online and 25% said their search was driven by their families. Their prime motivators for considering a move included the following:

Health change of spouse 44.5%

A change in their own health 44%

Difficulty of home maintenance 30.6%

Desire for peace of mind  24%

Those Who Didn’t Make the Move found that those who considered senior living but didn’t move in, gave the following as their reasons:

Would never move 47%

Weren’t ready yet, but getting closer 38%

Financial constraints 22%

Similarly, among those considering a CCRC, their reasons for staying in their own home included the following:

Not ready 61%

Financial constraints 35%

Concerns about downsizing, moving 28%

Desire to be independent 26%

What Mattered

What mattered to seniors investigating CCRCs was the financial stability of the lifecare community. For both audiences, the friendliness as well as the expertise of the staff was identified as important. Neither group expressed much concern about the physical plant. Both groups reported being happier once a move was made.

Marketing Recommendations

The advice from Shannon and Cindy was to market to both the senior and adult child. They recommended the following:

  • Know the value of stories and use them strategically

  • Ensure that the community’s website is visually broken up with white space and photos

  • Remember that Gen X’ers and Millennials want video

  • Maintain and manage a presence on social media

    • Among Boomers, 53% are on Pinterest, 48% are on Twitter and 41% use Facebook

  • Provide social proof — testimonials and reviews

    • Mix them on many website pages

    • Pair them with photos or video, especially of community events and activities

  • Ensure your value proposition and tagline are compelling

  • Create a sales and marketing culture that embodies your corporate culture

  • Discuss quality benchmarks in a way that is consumer-facing is reprising the presentation in a webinar scheduled for this Thursday at 11A Pacific Time and 2P Eastern. Go to to register.