61% of Older Adults Prefer to Remain at Home — Even If Living Alone

By now, it is well-known that most older adults prefer to age in place. The majority of adult children, however, worry that their aging parents will need senior living assistance regardless of preferences.

That’s according to findings from a new survey put together by Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and OnePoll, a London-based marketing research firm. The survey asked 2,000 adults about their plans for the future.

Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale is one of the country’s largest owners and operators of private-pay senior living communities. The company is also a provider of home health and hospice services.

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Overall, 61% of older adults who participated in the Brookdale survey said they would prefer to stay in their current home — even if that means living alone. Also of note: About 65% of adults said they are not saving money to pay for senior living.

Nearly 60% of adult children surveyed by Brookdale said they were concerned about their parents’ preferences of aging in place. Additionally, half said they have not made plans with their parents to pay for senior living — with a large portion viewing the topic as “uncomfortable” and “stressful.”

The findings suggest there may be ample opportunity for in-home care providers to key-in on adult children in their marketing strategies to help alleviate those concerns. It’s a tactic home care franchise company Home Instead pursued, for example, with its widely viewed “The Third Stair” advertisement.

The Brookdale survey also shows how many families often wait until after a traumatic event before attempting to make decisions surrounding care plans, according to Mary Sue Patchett, the company’s executive vice president of community operations.

“The survey confirms what we see when families walk into our communities every day,” Patchett said in a statement. “Many people wait to talk about senior living until there’s a traumatic event or they need to make a fast decision. Many seniors know they need help, but they don’t want to ask for it because they’re afraid of losing their independence or becoming a burden to their children. Instead, they suffer silently and often in isolation.”

Some senior living providers are trying to respond to the point and target prospective residents sooner by finding ways to blend senior housing with home care.

Richmond-based LifeSpire of Virginia — which manages four continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) throughout the state — launched Lakewood at Home in February, a continuing care at-home membership program for area residents. As part of the program, Lakewood at Home allows for fluidity in service for members that may eventually need to move into a LifeSpire community, offering “bridge options” and discounts.

Additionally, a pilot program unveiled last year between national home care franchise company Right at Home and Knoxville, Tennessee-based Dominion Senior Living is also seeking to expose older adults to senior housing options earlier in their care planning process.

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