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Does Location Matter When Choosing Assisted Living?

Jeff Anderson
By Jeff AndersonMarch 15, 2016
Does Location Matter When Choosing Assisted Living?

People searching for senior care are quickly forced to confront the unfamiliar, from the differences between care types to the array of funding options. Understandably, the search process can become overwhelming.

One would think that location should be the easiest decision to make, but A Place for Mom found that 60% of seniors moved to communities in cities they had not previously considered when choosing assisted living. Learn more.

How Are Seniors Choosing Assisted Living Communities?

When a senior asks for A Place for Mom’s assistance in choosing assisted living, one of the first things we ask for is their ideal geographic location. Families provide us with a city or zip code, and after speaking with a Senior Living Advisor, the Advisor uses this information as the focal point of their search.

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Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Seniors can provide multiple locations for Advisors to search, but they are asked to give a first preference. Some families consider senior housing in more than one state. For instance, when the senior is considering moving near relatives who live in different states.

Our analysis of the seniors we’ve helped move, indicate that:

  • 60% move to a senior community not in their preferred primary location
  • 36% move to a senior community in their primary preferred location
  • 4% move to an entirely different state

This leads us to ask: Why aren’t seniors settling down in their preferred cities? Does location matter when choosing assisted living?

Assisted Living Location Matters

Where Seniors Are Moving

Based on our experience working with families and seniors, we believe we have a good understanding of the primary causes driving these numbers:

Why 60% of Seniors Moved to Locations They Didn’t Initially Prefer

  1. The primary location did not have communities that could meet their needs: In some cases, the communities in the preferred area may not have any senior communities at all. In these cases, the senior often moves to the nearest town with an appropriate senior community. For example, a family who is looking for senior care in Boring, Oregon, population 200, may be fully aware that their loved one will need to move to another community in the nearby cities of Gresham, or Portland, Oregon.
  2. Another location is chosen to save on cost: Senior community prices are affected by the over all property values and rent in the neighborhood in which they are located, and the difference in prices can be immense. A family, who say, cannot afford care in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhoodmay instead choose a more affordable senior community with equally good care and amenities in neighboring Alpharetta.
  3. A location was chosen for its proximity to medical facilities: For many seniors, particularly those with chronic illnesses or those needing treatment, proximity to medical facilities is a large factor in their decision about assisted living.
  4. A location was chosen for its proximity to loved ones: Some seniors or families may simply change their mind about where they wish to move during their search. An elderly couple may decide that rather than moving to a community in their hometown, they’d rather move to a community where they could see their grandchildren more.

Why 4% of Seniors Moved Out-of-State

While only 4% of seniors moved to entirely different states, it’s interesting to analyze the factors that could lead to such a move:

  1. Families live near state lines: Families who live near the border of two states may move to a town that’s nearby, but across the border. In these cases, the factors discussed above would be considered (availability, affordability, proximity to medical care and loved ones).
  2. Families moving out-of-state to live near loved ones: Some families may be looking for assisted living in multiple states. For instance, they may indicate a location near their daughter in Vermont as their first location and a location near their son in California as their second location. If they move near their son in California they would fall in the 4% category.
  3. Making for the land of the sun: The lure of a warm state with plenty of sunshine may draw some seniors away from their hometowns or loved ones. Many seniors choose to move south to locations like Arizona and Florida not just because the weather is more pleasurable, but because warm weather is said to help with ailments like Arthritis and COPD.

How Senior Living Advisors Help You with Your Search

The reason 60% of seniors move to assisted living locations they didn’t initially plan on, is because they found a location that better fit their needs during the search process. All of the individuals in our analysis worked with Senior Living Advisors from A Place for Mom, so their choices were based on information provided by senior living experts with knowledge about communities throughout the U.S.

Advisors take the time to understand each family’s unique needs and preferences, and give the family a realistic list of options that most closely meet their needs. Their role in educating families about the right options for their loved ones is crucial. Because of our access to a nationwide network of communities, we can help seniors find communities near out-of-state relatives that fit their needs. Our Advisors can also help families find communities that are equidistant between relatives. These “geo-midpoint” communities can be a fair compromise between loved ones.

There are so many circumstances that can lead to families choosing communities outside their first preferred location, but our Advisors are with them every step of the way providing them with the information they need to make an informed decision.

Have you or a loved one moved to an assisted living community that wasn’t your originally preferred location? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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Jeff Anderson
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Jeff Anderson

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