The Rise of Senior Living Occupancy

Colleagues having business meeting on video call.

Nov 18, 2022 | Marketing & Branding

As COVID-19 created a landscape of uncertainty in senior living facilities, experts knew there would be challenges and effects that lasted long after. Although the pandemic continues, many types of senior living communities and care facilities, like continuing care retirement communities, independent living communities and nursing homes, are once again beginning to find their footing.

These signs of recovery come with relief to many, and although this is not a full recovery, it is certainly progress. Just how much has occupancy changed, however? We’re digging in to reveal just how far we’ve come – and where we have yet to go.

The History of Occupancy in Senior Living

To understand where senior living occupancy is going, we need to understand where we’ve been. According to the National Investment Center, senior housing occupancy in the third quarter increased quite a bit from the first quarter, with NIC MAP® data, powered by NIC MAP Vision, showing an increase to 80.1% – up from the pandemic low of 78.7% in the second quarter.

How does this shift relate to each level of care?

For independent living, occupancy increased to 83.2%, up from pandemic lows of 81.8%. This is still below the pre-pandemic level of 89.7%, however.

Assisted living occupancy was also up from its pandemic low of 75.4%, but remained lower than its pre-pandemic low of 85%, with occupancy increasing to 76.9%.

Occupancy in nursing care increased to 76.3%, up from its pandemic low of 74.1% in the first quarter, but still below its pre-pandemic level of 86.6%.

A rebounding demand, and a signal of recovery.

According to NIC, this initial rebound was caused by “a significant rebound in demand and modest increase in supply,” with demand increasing by 12,318 units in NIC Map’s Primary Markets. At this point, however, it was still too early to declare recovery.

In the second quarter of 2022, according to Senior Housing News, average senior living occupancy grew 90 basis points to 81.4%, showing that good progress has been made in workforce and supply challenges. NIC Chief Economist Beth Mace shared that although there are still economic challenges on the horizon, high demand and more moderate levels of new development should help buoy census in quarters to come.

She also shared that, “More than 30% of senior living communities tracked by NIC MAP Vision have occupancy rates at or above 90%,” and that “nearly 40% of communities have occupancy rates below 80%.”

Although it was hit hardest by COVID-19, assisted living is recovering faster than independent living. Supply is also having a harder time keeping up with demand, potentially in part from a massive slowdown in construction caused by higher interest rates, inflation, and supply chain issues, according to the article.

Where Occupancy Currently Stands

Where are we now in terms of occupancy levels? Senior living occupancy was on track to increase for the fifth quarter in a row, with it being shown that stabilized occupancy would rise 0.3 percentage points to 83.7% in August, occupancy for primarily independent living properties would be 85.7% and that occupancy for majority assisted living properties would be 81.4%. This also showed that occupancy for assisted living would continue to recover faster than independent living.

So did it happen?

According to this article, yes, but maybe not as high as projected – though it boasts the highest occupancy increases since before the pandemic.

Assisted living demand, as projected, rebounded strongly, with occupancy increasing 1.1% to 79.7% and independent living occupancy increasing 0.9% up to 84.7%.

The Future of Senior Living Occupancy

What is ahead for occupancy in senior living? As the need for senior care services increases, pandemic recovery occurs, and economic challenges are faced, we may see improvement, but it’s possible that a full recovery won’t occur until the end of 2023 or even sometime in 2024.

What should older adults and senior living communities expect?

Malissa Illiano, MBA, vice president of market research for SageAge, shares that: “In nearly all markets that we work in – whether rural, urban, or somewhere in between – we are seeing occupancy levels continue to increase.”

She adds that, “Perhaps even more importantly, our consumer survey studies have shown that concern about the pandemic among the senior target market is continuing to wane while the percentage of consumers who are willing to consider senior living options for the future continues to increase.”

In other words, it’s all looking up from here.

We can help you increase your occupancy.

Discover how we can team up to turn your leads into move-ins by contacting us today at 816.349.0464 or by emailing Melinda Schmitz, SageAge CEO, at

SageAge: Here for You, Always

At SageAge, 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 generate qualified leads that will help you continue to grow and maintain your occupancy rates.

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 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/

The Importance of Responding to Online Reviews

Did you know: 95% of people consult reviews before purchasing products or services. 88% of consumers are likely to use a business if they can see the business owner responds to all reviews, whether positive or negative. 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local...

What Are the Housing Restrictions for Facebook and PPC?

As we know, technology is always changing and adapting. It’s something many of those in the senior housing and marketing fields are used to. One of the most recent changes is making a larger impact on how we target ad audiences on Facebook and through pay-per-click...

4 Ways TikTok Is Redefining Senior Living Social Media

Whether you’ve heard about it, tried it out, or use it regularly, TikTok is taking the world by storm. This social media platform, which focuses on short-form video, is seemingly on everyone’s mind in one sense or another, and more often than not, people are following...

The Benefits of Working at a Remote Company

Remote working offers many benefits to employees and businesses. Today, more people are working from home than ever before, offering many benefits to both businesses and employees. Remote positions offer employees flexible work schedules and autonomy while keeping...

The Future of Analytics: What Does Next Year’s GA4 Migration Mean?

Moving Forward with New Updates Whether customer needs, viewing habits or website journeys change – or a better reporting tool emerges – one thing is for certain: Technology is always changing, and the field must adapt as a whole. Among the most recent updates include...


Stories of a Lifetime Senior living residents have lived amazing lives. Now, SageAge is on a quest to share those stories with those in the senior housing and senior living industry, residents and their families, adult children and anyone who wants to be inspired....

The Moment We Have Been Waiting for Is Here

WE have been working hard on something new. Check out our new website today!

Pressing Play on New Possibilities | Seniors and YouTube

Putting You In Front-Row View Gone are the days when YouTube was simply for younger generations to view funny videos. In the era of rising senior social media usage and the high engagement of video content, YouTube is becoming one of the largest search engines and...

Seniors and YouTube | Let’s Get Rolling

Exploring the Possibilities of Pre-Rolls Almost 47% of older adults ages 70 and up use their smartphones for social media access, according to our most recent white paper on seniors and technology use. Which social media platforms are most used among the senior age...

Connecting with Seniors Through Facebook

Making an Impression, Enhancing Engagement For many of us, we’re no stranger to Facebook. From personal use and business to connecting with friends and family, Facebook is among the top social media platforms. In fact, did you know that there are 2.89 billion monthly...
Share This