As assisted living operators look to the future, one strategy may depend on helping families navigate the ability to pay for care for their loved ones, housing experts said Tuesday.

Many senior living communities originally promised adult children the idea of “we’ll care for Mom,” said National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care CEO Robert Kramer.

Today, Kramer advised that communities’ plans have “got to go way beyond that. It’s like a concierge service but we’re coordinating it.”

Kramer spoke during an Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference session on the future of seniors housing with NIC Chief Economist Beth Mace and MainStreet Health Investments CEO Scott White. He noted that he has spoken to many adults who are navigating the maze of Medicaid or other payer options.

“Recognize that whoever is in the business of doing for the adult daughter or children what they don’t have the expertise to do themselves is going to be successful,” he said.

In an earlier session on market trends in senior housing, NIC Chief or Research & Analytics Charles W. Harry Jr. said that although senior housing occupancy fell to 89.3% in the first quarter of 2017, annual inventory growth has reached the fastest pace in a decade. This year’s flu season also may have affected demand, he noted.

“The dynamic is that as a result of a sustained flu season, we may have seen more move-outs, but as households, we are less mobile, and [fewer] people were moving in during the first quarter,” he said.

A solid pace of construction continues in assisted living, as properties under construction in the first quarter represent a total of 1,457 assisted living units. Most assisted living communities take approximately two years from start to finish, Harry said. Currently, cities with more than 20% of assisted living units under construction include Charleston, SC; El Paso, TX; Detroit, and Salt Lake City.

The Argentum conference concludes Wednesday in Nashville, TN.

Elizabeth Newman is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living’s sister media brand, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.