Why are Seniors Waiting Longer to Move into Retirement Communities?

When the decision to move to a senior living community is finally made – the seniors tend to be older and frailer.  Many providers blame the economy and accept a lower occupancy as a sign of the times.  The days of having someone move in off the wait list have disappeared.  So it is time to strategize…

Let’s enter the mind of a senior.  Many have experienced painful losses in their stock portfolios in recent years.  Depending on the area of the country they live, their home is worth much less than the inflated value they recognized as truth in 2007.  Many seniors feel they have lost several hundred thousand dollars and can’t afford to move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with an entrance fee.  Some silent generation seniors are penny pinching again and think it’s less expensive to live in his or her paid off home.   Other seniors are just so attached to their home of 40 or 50 years that they can’t imagine living somewhere else.

Yet as they age, day-to-day living can become more of an effort.  Many of the responsibilities of their home have to be hired out – such as gardening, yard work, window and gutter cleaning, possibly housekeeping and painting.  Many seniors had a do-it-your-self mindset and become frustrated at the quality of workmanship that hired help provides.  Cooking a healthy meal for one or two is just too much work and who wants to wash all those dishes?   Maybe the laundry room is located down the basement stairs, they live in a split-level home or stairs have become a struggle.

Now they have arrived at your CCRC or independent living door because a resident friend encouraged them to come and see it or an exciting event intrigued them enough to leave their home.  This prospective resident is not going to be sold with one visit.  First they have to picture themselves living in your community.   The first impressions are everything, so the food, the tour, the model apartment and enjoying some of the lifestyle are all vital.  This person may need to come to three events such as: a musical event, a cultural event and an educational event.  If possible, they need to experience the events in different parts of your community.   Hearing testimonials from vibrant residents or having opportunities to interact with lively residents can be very helpful.

Your on-going monthly phone call to this prospective resident should be full of encouragement and discovery to learn what they really enjoy most in life.  Maybe they swam at the local pool every morning for 40 years, but now the winter darkness is stopping them from driving.  Or maybe they enjoyed his or her subscription to the symphony, but now they can’t drive in the dark and their best friend died.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they did not have to “drive” to go to a pool, a gym, see live musical entertainment, enjoy an educational program or share a glass of wine with a friend?

What moves this type of person to give up their home?  It’s to have a vividly painted lifestyle that is 10 times better than their current situation.  At that point the perceived loss in their home value is no longer a factor.  They realize that their home has become a ball and chain and they want the freedom and conveniences that your retirement community can offer them.  It can take several months or even a year for seniors to make this decision.  A health setback or scare always speeds the process up.  Who will they think of first when they are lying in hospital recovering from a hip surgery?  Why the community that called them every month and invited them to events of course…

Selling Lifestyle is Key in CCRC and Independent living Senior Sales.  Is this helpful?

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  If your curiosity is peaked to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) or have her put on a sales retreat for your organization – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/


  1. Very informative article which has picked up the thoughts right out of the seniors who can’t decide their next option & the time for doing so.

  2. Excellent article! In my experiences, the folks that were really to move in and in relatively good health, didn’t have the financial means to support the CCRC lifestyle any longer and were being forced to stay put for a while longer. Therefore, you are seeing a more frail, much older population than in prior years. And they are definitely being transferred to a higher level of care much sooner, therefore, selling the same units over and over again.


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