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Closing the Gap

Over the years I’ve heard hundreds of residents tell why they chose to move to a senior living community. Usually it starts something like this…“I was very hesitant to give up my home, but…” The resident goes on to tell about how much they love living there and how it has changed their life for the better.

I also hear of seniors who wait too long to make a decision. Suddenly, they’re faced with a health crisis, and their children are left to make a tough choice, often marked with guilt and financial burden.

I recently heard a lovely woman in her 80s talk about the practicality of choosing a senior living community. She retired as a financial planner, accepted the reality of aging and the probability of needing care in the future. It was not a question of if, but when. Consequently, she is an advocate for senior living communities and the decision to move there earlier rather than later.

How can we help seniors close the gap from waiting too long to planning ahead?

A report by Morrison Senior Living titled A Voice to the Silent Generation, Part III validates the stories we hear so often and is a great reminder of the motivation behind the decision-making process.

According to the report, Planners are the rare group of seniors who are motivated to avoid pain, not burden children, avoid repeating their parents’ mistakes and generally want to enjoy community life. Procrastinators are more common and are motivated by the continuum of care, maintenance-free living, safety and security of a community setting. Crashers come unannounced because they’re unable to live alone, and typically the decision is made with the aid of a loved one. They’re motivated by quality health care.

The report goes on to share tried and true strategies to shorten the decision-making timeline to move. In summary, make it easier for Planners to downsize, sell and move; offer financial incentives as a secondary strategy. Immerse Procrastinators in the community experience. For example, offer lifestyle events or trial stays, and also make it easier for them to move. Provide detailed information on aging and the probability of needing care to Crashers. Providing information is the only reasonable action a community can take.

Perhaps someday “I’m glad I moved when I did” will replace the more common “I wish I’d done this sooner” story. Until then, I’m reminded that how you communicate not only helps seniors make the decision to move to a senior living community, but can also encourage them to move earlier than they might have otherwise.


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