Avoiding the “I’m Not Ready Yet” Reaction to Senior Housing

I have been involved in the senior housing industry for well over 30 years. There are two expressions from consumers that I’ve heard throughout those decades. The first is “I’m Not Ready Yet”. This reflects the belief that you have to be old and frail to move to senior housing. And we’ve created that impression in some ways, including the term “continuing care retirement communities”. The word “care” is a clear signal that you need care, so why move there if you don’t! Leading Age has addressed that by relabeling these communities “Life Plan Communities” which puts the consumer in charge. A much needed modification. But there is more to it than a name change. An increasing number of communities are learning that they can offer residents opportunities to do things they have always wanted to do, but never found the time. My sister-in-law who I wrote about in my last blog is a great example. After I published the blog and shared it with her she wrote to me and said “I forgot to mention one really important thing – opportunities!” She is in the choir, performing comedy routines and to use her word, having a “blast”! This is an important message that may not be presented in marketing communications and positioning. Delivering this message can help shift the perception of retirement communities. It starts with the website and should be reinforced by other collateral materials. And staff training is key. It may feel like you are turning the course of a major vessel that is steaming ahead in a tried and true direction, but I think it’s worth it! With success, more and more residents will utter the other expression I mentioned at the beginning of this blog “Why did I wait so long”!