A Brave New World: Senior Living in the Age of COVID-19

Jan 5, 2021 | Marketing & Branding

What’s in store for the senior living industry in 2021? The long-lasting effects of COVID-19 have made ripples throughout our industry, causing a seismic shift in the way we’ve marketed, managed and approached all aspects of our business.

In April of 2020, SageAge set out to get answers for our client-partners and the industry at large with a comprehensive survey sent to current senior living prospects. Our goal was to gain feedback from prospective residents who had demonstrated interest in senior living prior to the pandemic – and how or if the pandemic had changed their plans. We also wanted to gather supported answers to how COVID-19 would impact senior living sales now and in the future.

Here are some of the observations we made and what they mean for our industry moving forward.

Seniors are still interested in making a move.

Good news: It appears that COVID-19 hasn’t overwhelmingly changed peoples’ need or desire to move to senior living. However, it has changed time frames and surety with regard to the move. We found that there was a decrease across the board regarding the time frame for a move (only 38% plan to make the move within two years; in 2019 the response was 55%). However, the percentage of respondents who indicated they are not planning to move increased by only about 1%.

Finances remain the top concern.

Based on feedback provided by respondents when asked about key considerations when making a move to senior living, finances and cost of living remain the most important factor for most prospects.

Lack of social support did not increase desire to move.

Social support is one of the most crucial things one should have as a senior, and this became very clear during the pandemic. Surprisingly, though, respondents who had no support during the pandemic did not report an increase in the desire to move to a senior living community. Rather, it was the opposite. The percentage of people who had some level of interest in moving dropped from 86% to 71%, while 67% of respondents felt that they were better off at home than in a senior living community during the pandemic.

Technology use is increasing.

Seniors desperate to find ways to connect with friends and loved ones turned to technology – from phone calls and texting to emailing and video chatting. About 52% of respondents indicated they had used video conferencing software to socialize during the pandemic, while 28% used social media platforms. While the top method of connecting was phone calls, emailing and texting came in second and third in use and popularity.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

 Here’s the great news: senior living is still very much a need and want in the senior population. There are still many prospects who are continuing to explore living options, and have plans to move relatively soon. However, because health and safety remain an immediate concern, there are concerns and challenges that must be navigated throughout the prospecting journey and all the way through move-in.

In order to effectively position your community in this new landscape, it will be essential to have a clear strategy for safety protocols and measures that have been put into place. Having straightforward and helpful information will help ease minds, provide comfort and establish confidence in the minds of families and future residents.

Technology will also play a bigger part in the sales and marketing process, as video conferencing, social media and other digital tools will continue to be used by seniors at a high rate. This gives communities the opportunity to interact with prospects in new and different ways.

Building a Comprehensive 2021 Plan

 2020 made it abundantly clear that the old way of doing things is no longer enough to attract and retain residents. As senior living operators continue to adapt their safety protocols and business procedures in order to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and safety, they will also need to adjust their marketing and sales processes in order to make use of new and helpful technologies that seniors are starting to expect from brands and businesses.

Partnering with a marketing expert – like SageAge Strategies – can provide the foundation you need in order to build a successful digital marketing strategy for today’s brave new world. As the senior living landscape continues to shift and evolve, we’ll be watching for trends and best practices to ensure our client-partners are achieving their business goals. – no matter what lies ahead.

 SageAge Strategies: Here for You, Always

At SageAge Strategies, our marketing team excels in helping senior living communities target prospective residents and gather essential information through surveys, focus groups and other tools that will help communities just like yours get the information you need to succeed.

If you need assistance in any areas of marketing and integrated growth strategy to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at 816.349.0464 / melinda@sageagestrategies.comYou can also visit us on our website at sas.sageage.site/.

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