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Survey reveals senior living wishes of prospective residents

May 20, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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A new survey provides some insights into how Americans select senior living communities for themselves or their loved ones.
Water, hygiene and energy technologies and services company Ecolab Inc. released the results in conjunction with the Assisted Living Federation of America annual conference.
The decision-making process usually is a group effort, the survey of 400 people found, but women have more decision-making authority than men. 
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they were likely to consider a senior living community for themselves in the future.
  • 43 percent of women were ultimately responsible for the decision versus 28 percent of men.
  • 41 percent said they chose senior living for their mother and 16 percent for their father, followed by mother-in-law (14 percent) or another elderly relative (11 percent). 
Although future residents said they are most interested in their ability to enjoy a vibrant life in a senior living community, their loved ones said they want to ensure that the seniors in their lives obtain needed assistance with everyday activities.
  • 56 percent of those choosing long-term care for a loved one said their primary reason was to provide that person with assistance with everyday activities.
  • 33 percent of those choosing someplace for themselves said their primary reason was to enjoy retirement with fewer daily tasks.
  • 32 percent said it was to enjoy a vibrant living community.
First impressions count, the survey found. Cleanliness was a top priority, and prospective residents linked cleanliness to quality of care. Respondents–especially women–overwhelmingly agreed that cleanliness is a top priority when choosing a senior living community. 
  • 93 percent agreed that “if a community isn’t clean, it suggests to me that the staff might not 
  • take good care of the residents either.” 
  • 96 percent rated overall cleanliness of the community as important.
  • “Cleanliness” ranked second in terms of the most prioritized aspect of an independent or assisted living community, behind “caring, friendly staff” and ahead of “services and amenities."
But services and amenities matter. Survey respondents had high expectations for healthy, convenient food and hotel-like offerings.
  • 85 percent of respondents ranked quality/variety of food as important.
  • 61 percent said accommodation for special diets was important.
  • 51 percent expected vegan or vegetarian options to be available. 
  • 55 percent expected a grab-and-go bistro/café.
  • 66 percent expected a coffee shop/bar.
  • 71 percent expected meal delivery to their apartment.
  • 78 percent expected a bakery or fresh baked goods and dessert.
  • 82 percent expected a fresh salad bar.
  • 20 percent expected an on-site bar or pub.
  • 91 percent said comfort and ambiance of resident apartments was important.
  • 49 percent said in-house exercise and recreational activities were a priority.
  • 43 percent said access to in-room WiFi was a priority.

Related article: What seniors want