Around this time of year, every year -- and particularly right after the New Year -- something happens: Senior living communities, and our amazing team of care advisors at SeniorHomes.com, start getting tons of phone calls from seniors and families starting the process of searching for senior housing options.
There's a reason this happens during and immediately after the holiday season. Today's world isn't restricted by geography. We're interconnected with friends, loved ones and even total strangers located around the globe. We can Skype for face-to-face contact with grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and BFFs who live thousands of miles away. For this reason, there are more and more families who are spread out by thousands of miles, and many of these families gather together over the holidays.
When adult children visit their aging parents over the holidays, a harsh reality sometimes sets in. For the first time, you may realize that your parents really are getting older.
Sometimes, you observe some worrisome things like outdated prescriptions, forks in the refrigerator, a cluttered home that's starting to show significant wear, overgrown lawns and other circumstances that make it clear dad's not getting around as well as he used to. Maybe you see your mom holding onto the furniture for support as she navigates through the living room. Whatever the case, you've realized that it's time to worry about your aging loved ones' safety at home.
Typically, there's a large spike in the number of senior living referrals right after Thanksgiving. Closer to Christmas, it winds down a bit as families are focused on preparing for the upcoming holiday -- but after the New Year, things pick up and persist through the month of January as families settle in to a new year and start putting plans in place to make sure their aging loved ones are safe and adequately cared for.
Take a look at the following graph, which illustrates the ebb and flow of senior living inquiries SeniorHomes.com received during and after the 2011 holiday season.
The red lines in the graph above represent Thanksgiving and Christmas 2011, giving you a clear picture of the significant increase in inquiries that happens right after the Christmas holiday and continues throughout the month of January.
With the pressure on senior living providers to provide exceptional care, it can be a stressful time as providers work to ramp up staffing levels in order to meet the increased demand for services. Providers may need to allocate additional support staff to handle incoming phone calls, meet with families to discuss care options, and give tours of the facility.
But while the phone calls are increasing at this time of year, there aren't a lot of move-ins happening. Most families opt to wait until after the holidays to make the official move.
With family members in ample supply during this time of year, it's not necessary for many to make the move right away. Additionally, most seniors prefer to enjoy one more holiday season in the home they've known and loved for many years. That's why many senior living communities offer incentives, hold open houses and other events and provide special year-end offers to encourage families to make their decision prior to the official close of the year. Check out our recent blog post for some ideas for marketing your community during the busy end-of-year season.
For families, the holidays are actually a good time to investigate your options. This is especially true if you're traveling to visit an aging loved one -- if time permits, adult children have the opportunity to visit potential senior living communities in person to get a better feel for whether it's a good fit for mom or dad.
Being able to have face-to-face contact with your aging parent's potential caregivers and taking an in-person tour of the community provides a little more peace of mind than relying on verbal communications, brochures and photos to make an informed decision. You can also take advantage of the year-end discounts and special offers, such as a free month's rent, that senior living communities are offering.
But what if you're in town for just a short visit and there's no time to make personal contact with area senior living providers? Fortunately, the increasing popularity of the internet as a senior living research tool has led to more options for seniors and their families searching for senior living options.
SeniorHomes.com, for instance, has implemented a comprehensive rating system for senior living communities in many cities across the U.S. That means you can search for senior living options in your area and get information on state inspection results, read the opinions of local experts who have worked directly with these communities, and read reviews from residents, families and staff members. It's an excellent resource for long-distance loved ones, as well as for those who live locally but aren't sure where to begin the search.