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Residential Assisted Living Marketing…Healthcare or Lifestyle?

The senior living market is rapidly changing because of the growth of the residential assisted living home model. It’s inevitable that marketing strategies for assisted living will be dominantly geared toward residents’ wants, instead of only needs. Instead of making decisions for them, assisted living homes are not only offering quality care, but a huge variety of services and amenities.

So, should residential assisted living homes market and advertise healthcare or lifestyle?

The market is most definitely going through some serious changes. Traditional senior housing like nursing homes are now competing against the unprecedented growth of residential assisted living homes. People want to grow old in the comfort of their own home environment, as opposed to a big box facility. No one wants to voluntarily spend their twilight years in a facility.

Can Senior Living Communities Offer A Home And A Lifestyle? 

The two major factors that most families consider when choosing an assisted living community is the level of healthcare and the financial cost. While these two things are very important considerations, they are not the only factors that make up a senior’s decision that will directly affect their quality of life. Other lifestyle factors can affect a person’s emotional, mental and physical well-being, and therefore should also be valued. Senior communities are starting to realize that providing residents with high quality lifestyles requires more involvement. This means caregivers must do more than monitor and assist with basic care needs. Quality of life is directly impacted by the lifestyle senior communities offer. It’s important to your business to place more emphasis on specific lifestyles after physical demands are well met. As a result, many assisted living homes are starting to expand and adopt new approaches. 

They are beginning to address the unique needs and desires that different lifestyle options can afford. This is what residents want – to be able to live life in the manner that best represents who they are and the freedom that they have known most of their adult life. As the industry adapts, seniors now have more of an option to choose a community with a specific lifestyle program that meets their personal desire. There are options that are specific to men, women and others that are geared to chefs, gardening  enthusiasts, retired educators and even sports fans. The specialty list is exhaustive. RAL operators need to be aware of these great programs geared toward residents in assisted living homes. 

Seniors Aging Is Linked To Quality Of Life 

The factors affecting quality of life are subjective – it is different for everyone, varying from person to person. A Pew Research report found that many Americans believe that quality of life is closely connected to the aging process. 

Quality Of Life Has Multiple Dimensions

  • The lack of distressing physical symptoms: pain, nausea, constipation, etc.
  • Emotional well-being: happiness and absence of anxiety.
  • Functional status: the ability to perform daily activities and high order functions; the participation and enjoyment of social activities; the quality of close personal relationships; satisfaction with both the financial and medical aspects of their health treatment; sexuality, body image, and intimacy.

A person’s lifestyle revolves around their interpersonal relationships, pleasures and social activities. These are some of the same factors that affect quality of life. Finding a community that offers a lifestyle that is aligned with your own personal preferences might actually provide you with a higher quality of life. This is why advertising and marketing is important to the success of residential assisted living businesses. This industry is not known for its ability to change rapidly. Yet, we are currently experiencing a marketing environment that is complex and fast changing. Marketing changes have to be made to meet, not only the demand, but the desires of potential residents as well. 

Marketing Isn’t What It Used To Be

Sales and marketing strategies must change to keep up with the times. You cannot continue to use old strategies to attract a completely different and more modern audience. This is especially true when attempting to reach individuals with uniquely different wants and needs to previous generations. RAL owners and operators must also understand that when targeting potential customers for independent or assisted living, adult children play an important part of the decision making process. There often needs to be two different, yet compatible, messages. The way we communicate with both groups should be unique. Afterall, the quality of life of the senior parent will have an impact on the lives of their adult children.

Social media and other new technologies are essential tools for communication as well as the sales process. Understanding the profile of your true target customer is a must when crafting the right message. Marketing to digital-aged consumers is an innovative dynamic. The tools, technology, platforms, ability to do research on  their own, demand for a speedy response, and other rules of engagement all need to be addressed and adapted to. 

The Wild Card: Referral Marketing

Consumer needs are changing so we need to change our message. This change is not a bad thing, it will bring about new opportunities and expand our market. As a provider, many organizations will have to decide whether their product is marketed as healthcare or a lifestyle. And just to reiterate, in either case, quality caregiving needs to be of paramount importance to your business and staff. Only when quality care is established can you move into the space of marketing for lifestyle. It is not either or, it is one or both. Simply put, marketing for healthcare usually involves seniors being pushed into assisted living due to health issues, whereas, marketing a lifestyle is about pulling seniors into your communities who don’t necessarily need all the healthcare and assistance that your RAL homes provide, but they are drawn by the other programs and amenities you have to offer.

If you decide to focus your marketing on quality healthcare, you have to ask yourself, do you offer anything uniquely valuable to the rest of the care supply chain? If you do not, then going that route may not be the path to success. If the quality care-based service that you provide does not make you a more attractive option than other assisted living homes in your area, then maybe you should focus more on lifestyle. When seeking referral partners, messaging should be clear, accurate and effective. Messaging needs to be specific and show how your community supports healthcare providers and caregivers to do their job with the highest of quality standards. Do you have any ideas on what will improve senior care marketing in the future?

Ral Academy Will Prepare You For Ongoing Success 

For additional information about senior lifestyles, read, What is the Average Day for the Residents

Residential Assisted Living Academy is an assisted living education company that teaches everything from A-Z about meeting the rising demand for senior housing.       

The 3-day fast track RALA training empowers students to achieve true financial independence in the RAL business industry. Visit to learn more and register now.

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Gene Guarino


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