The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine makes adult children more open to senior living communities for their parents than they were a year ago, but the vaccine doesn’t have as strong of an effect on the older adults themselves, according to the results of the new Senior Care Outlook Survey from care.com.
The survey sample — 1,000 adults aged 18 or more years who are responsible for their parents’ care and 750 adults aged 65 or more years — showed that of adult children who live in a house, 53% said that the vaccine makes them more likely to recommend that their parent move to a senior living community. By comparison, of older adults who are aging in place, 23% said that the vaccine makes them more likely to move to a senior living community.
More adult children who are in charge of an older adult’s care still prefer for them to age in place rather than in a senior living community than they did before the pandemic, but the survey showed that attitudes are changing. The desire to have around-the-clock professional support is the top reason cited by those who shifted their views in favor of senior living communities, selected by 29% overall and 41% of respondents over 44 years old, Most older adults said they still would prefer to age in place in their own home, a child’s home or another family member’s home.
The discussion about transitioning to a senior living community is more difficult on the adult child than the older adults, according to the survey results. Approximately half of the adult children said that discussing senior living and care with their parents was difficult before the pandemic; 37% of the parents stated the same. As the pandemic winds down, 53% of adult children anticipate that discussing senior living and care options with their parents will be difficult, compared with 33% of parents who anticipate that discussing options will be difficult.
Of respondents in both cohorts who changed their preference from aging in place to moving to a senior living community, most shared almost identical reasons for the switch. Older adults ranked concern for safety first (28%), followed by 24/7 support (27%), fear of isolation/another lockdown (22%) and financial concerns (16%) as the reasons for the increased appeal of senior living. Adult children prioritized 24/7 professional support (29%), followed by safety (27%), fear of isolation (23%) and financial concerns (21%).
Both cohorts reported that COVID-19 vaccines have made them less fearful for older adults’ general well-being going forward.