Is Visiting Your Senior Living Community Like Going to the Dentist?

Is Visiting Your Senior Living Community Like Going to the Dentist?

vecortoons07222013024-copyIt can be so simple to alleviate someone’s fear by giving a simple explanation of what to expect in the coming minutes or hour.  If you skip this simple step at your senior living community – learn what can happen.

Yesterday, I was at the dentist for a routine crown.  I received a crown 20 years ago and had no bad memories or fears coming to the appointment.   Once I signed that I would pay for the crown, there was zero explanation of what would happen next…

It was tough hearing, feeling and smelling procedures in my mouth with zero knowledge of the reason.  Could he have not taken a moment for some quick explanations to elevate the fear of the unknown?  The dentist did warn me about the pounding that was about to come.  That was my only warning.  He asked me to open up and bite down on something squishy, then he just walked away and left me.  What was in my mouth and why?  Well it turned out to be a crown mold that needed to set in my mouth for 8 minutes.  When the dentist came back, I had pretty much made a decision to never go to this dentist again.

When a prospective senior resident arrives at your senior living community, they can have fears.  A senior can fear being sold, giving up his or her home of 40 years, change in lifestyle, losing the size or view of the current home, downsizing, moving, mortality, being accepted by other residents, losing control and etc.

Simply take two minutes before touring a prospective senior resident and share what can happen on the visit.  Then ask for his or her permission to proceed.  Watch them visibly relax before your eyes.

Maybe you say something like, “Today, you will have an opportunity to learn what our retirement community (assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care or Continuing Care Retirement Community) has to offer and to see if this community could possibly be an option for you in your future.  Why don’t we take a few minutes to determine what is most important for you to learn today and then I can determine what areas of the community to show you first.  This will save you a lot of time.  My goal will be to answer all your questions as we tour the community and see a model home.  When you leave today, I will give you a brochure with all the floor plans and pricing included.  How does that sound to you?”

Relaxed seniors buy and stressed seniors go to the next senior living community who will relax them.  What do you say or do to relax your perspective residents at the beginning of a walk-in tour or appointment?

Please share your success, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Most recently Masson was recruited to consult for two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.


  1. Hello Diane,

    I appreciate your work and always helpful tips of selling to seniors. It’s interesting (at least to me) that perhaps we have reversed, yet with the same goal, how to best address a prospect when they enter our community. I/we say nothing about a “tour” and nothing about floor plans, pricing, etc. I will take all the time the prospect is willing to take to hear their story, address their fears and hear what it is THEY want. What we have to offer matters little, really. It has helped us greatly to erase the word “tour” from our vocabulary. Of course, most people want to take a walk around our community, so we oblige. Mystery shops of 5,000 marketers have shown that just a handful of questions have been asked of prospects – a handful from all 5,000! Why, we want to “sell”, which ends up doing to people what you suggest, leaving them eager to go somewhere else. Our community is generally 99+% occupied, and our marketing team can’t remember the last time they “sold,” if ever. Thanks again for your work! Kent

  2. Linked In Boomers: Aging Beats The Alternative

    Absolutely. Those who are touring potential living environments are often dealing with loss, anxiety, and fear of change. Listening is the best conversation starter.
    By Miriam Oliensis-Torres

    • I agree. We need to know what to expect, especially in an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes the provider or marketer is so task oriented they forget what it feels like to be the customer. Take the time. Make people feel reassured. Lorie

      • It sounds so simple but few take the time. It is all about the tour. Diane

  3. Linked In Senior Assisted Living Sales, Marketing & Operations

    As a dentist, I find your comments very interesting. Modern impression materials allow for an accurate mold to be taken in 3-5 minutes instead of 8. Also, you must have had some idea why you needed a crown. Perhaps the tooth had a crack in the enamel or it was broken. Regardless, you must see dentistry as a high value service by bringing it into the discussion. What is perplexing to me is that facilities for the aged and disabled have rooms for licensed hair care but rarely a room for health care . When I visited facilities to render dental care, I was offered the hair salon or the conference room to render care. Infection control, HIPPA, privacy and dignity were of no concern. The recent article in the New York Times showing the woman getting dental care in the facility conference room with other residents watching has created a new awareness of this concern. You have the choice to find a new dentist offering treatment in a method that is more in line with current standards. Just be glad that you are not a resident in a senior living facility who has no choice other than to get no care, be carted around town to get care, or to get care on site in the hallway, hair salon, or conference room.
    By Dr. Stuart Boekeloo

    • Thanks for you comment Dr. Stuart. Thanks for voicing your concerns about residents having dental work in a conference room or the hall – that is crazy. Who else is experiencing this? This is probably a widespread problem, because skilled nursing communities are so old. And yes, I already have a new dentist.

      • Linked In Senior Assisted Living Sales, Marketing & Operations

        Don’t forget that foot doctors, audiologists, optometrists and others visit facilities facing the same issue. No room for care exists so they render care wherever they can. Just as a haircut leaves behind unwanted human waste, so do these providers of care. Rotary instruments are often used. Think of the air borne pathogens that are introduced into a facility by these providers when rendering care in hallways, hair salons and conference rooms. The infection control of an entire facility is completed after the providers of care leave and the facility “cleaning” service comes through with their vacuum cleaners and redistributes fungus from bunions and toe nail clippings and infected tooth particles throughout the facility. Multi care treatment rooms in facilities are the obvious answer to this problem.
        By Dr. Stuart Boekeloo

        • Linked In Senior Assisted Living Sales, Marketing & Operations

          Fear of the unknown can lead most of us to a heightened level of anxiety, no matter what our age. I appreciate your approach to putting the client at ease. What a diiference this simple step can make. Great article, and great advice as always Diane. Thanks!
          By Wanda Boucher

  4. Diane,
    This post is a good way to paint a picture that many of us can “feel” as a good understanding of what prospects and families are feeling as they venture into unknown territory. We can help the move-in process go smoothly by using the same approach for move-in day also…let the family and new resident know what to expect as they drive their car, packed full of mom’s clothes and treasures, up to your front door. Plan and communicate what to expect; provide a warm welcome filled with your best hospitality in full swing! There is only one first day at your community, we are in charge of making a difference for our residents from day one.

  5. I guess every big change in life cause anxiety and fear and visiting a senior living residence or assist living place can be scary ! Yes!
    I thing we should try to discover the needs and expectations of people researching long term care places.
    My mother in law feels she is in a cruise and even can feel the maritime breeze in her room! She has an advance Alzheimer’s and was very afraid at the beginning. Now she is relaxed and feels she is in a good place because they serve very good meals and she does not have to cook anymore. She is 97 years old now and believe the atnosphere in the facility she is in is very friendly. She made new friends ( while she was always alone before) and seems to be happier now with all the attention she gets from the staff and friends. It is terrible to live alone, have to do all the houses chores and yet worrying about being sick. A long term care facility can be as pleasant as a cruise. We professionals of long term healthcare have the duty and obligation to make our clients feel like very welcome guests and providing them with everything that make them happy in this phase of life!


    When a couple, or a single lady came to see our community, we would first ask if they would stay for lunch, or dinner,then always sit them with a resident who would tell about their life there.Then show them how they can have that same lifestyle.
    By Jim White


    So true! Had a similar experience with my husband’s rehab facility. Your tip on how to help people relax about such a decision is spot on.
    By Marcia Brown


    Great article and very true! When I am touring a scared or hesitant prospective resident, who may already be crying, I reassure them that this is ONLY informational, just to see what we have to offer. I actually shrug one shoulder and tell them it’s just to check us out! I explain we will just chat a few minutes and then I will show them our community and explain what we have to offer and we will come back here, to the meeting room, so I can answer any other questions they may have. Typically by the time they are leaving, we are good friends,and they actually look different since all of the anger and fear are diminished!
    By Jolleen Simonson

    • Jolleen, It is amazing to see a 100% defensive person turn into your best friend by the end of the appointment. That means that you are doing everything right and relaxing them. Way to go!

  9. Linked In Marketing to Seniors

    This is a GREAT idea!
    By Amelia E. Willson

  10. Linked In Marketing to Seniors

    This is fantastic! It’s like taking advice from Dr. Phil; simple, easy, and a answer that has been sitting right in front of our eyes. An excellent suggestion in plain sight. You think this would be common sense but I for one would have missed it without your suggestion.

    This is one of the many reasons these groups are important.

    Thank you Diane
    By Karle Kincaid

    • Thanks Karle, you made me laugh! It’s my first time being compared with Dr. Phil! I am glad you found the information helpful.

  11. Linked In The Elder Care Network

    Dentists always get that bad rap don’t they.
    By Kenneth Capron

  12. Linked In Healthcare Marketing

    Hey Diane,
    I thought this was a great post! Wise advice for any market.
    By Linda Rantz

    • Thanks Linda! I appreciate your comment.


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