older adult looking out a window

The coronavirus pandemic does appear to be quashing some older adults’ interest in moving into senior living — as many in the seniors housing industry had feared. Among those seniors who had been considering a move into seniors housing pre-COVID-19, nearly 35% now say they have been scared off by COVID-19 and are now much less interested in moving to a community setting. That’s according to a study of 250 adults over age 65, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 12 by marketing firms LevLane Inc. and MarketVision Research Inc. 

Nonetheless, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they were still interested in moving into senior living within the next five years. There are some things the seniors housing industry can do to reassure prospective residents, the biggest of them being honest and informative, said the firms. An overwhelming 73% of survey respondents said that they would be much more likely to move to a community that speaks openly about its COVID-19 protections and prevention methods within their communities. 

In addition, 70% of respondents said the following six messages would be important to hear about from the community:

  1. The facility is meeting/exceeding state and local guidelines for senior living communities
  2. The facility is meeting/exceeding all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements for senior living communities
  3. Transparency regarding residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19
  4. The stringency of their COVID-19 testing protocols for staff and visitors
  5. Information regarding community requirements for mask use and facial coverings
  6. The ability to safely distance

However, messaging around COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing respondents found important to bring them back to the table. So did providing stronger guarantees. In fact, 86% said that a “satisfaction guarantee” would be important when choosing a senior living community.  In addition, approximately 68% of seniors said that offering a trial stay would be an important component when it came to choosing a senior living community. 

“This study confirms much of what we’ve all been feeling and seeing most of this year,” Kelly Sizemore, vice president and director of brand strategy for LevLane told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “COVID has reshaped how people think about senior living communities — their purchase decision and timing. Much of the positive attributes we promote with life plan communities, particularly regarding the lifestyle, dining and socialization was most impacted. The silver lining is that the new skills we learn and employ from this only makes us that much stronger and skilled going into a (hopefully) more settled and safe, new normal.”