SEATTLE (October 6, 2016)—A Place for Mom, the nation’s largest senior living referral service, released data today showing that 73 percent of families report that a senior loved one’s quality of life improved after moving to assisted living. Before making the transition, 62 percent of seniors say they would rather stay at home; however, after moving to assisted living families find improvements in seniors’ social and emotional well-being as well as physical health and nutrition. Additionally, 60 percent of caregivers found that their personal quality of life improved and 70 percent found that there was an insignificant financial impact on them after a senior’s move. The new findings stem from the Family Quality of Life Survey, the third installment of a quarterly series of data reports produced by A Place for Mom to help seniors and families plan for the future.
“There is a misperception in the marketplace that seniors are better off staying at home later in life, even when they need care and support,” said Charlie Severn, vice president of brand marketing at A Place for Mom. “What many families are surprised to learn is that not only do their parent’s lives improve, but also their own life situations can positively change from a move into an assisted living or other senior living community. Often, families may be hesitant to start looking into the process because of preconceived notions about senior care. It’s important to start planning for senior living sooner rather than later as it can lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.”
The Family Quality of Life Survey was designed to measure the effect of moving to an assisted living community on quality of life for both the senior and a family member who helped them search for senior housing and care. A Place for Mom surveyed family members of seniors who had either moved into assisted living or were similar seniors still searching for senior housing and care. The survey also asked about the perceptions seniors and family members had about senior living before they began their search. In coordination with A Place for Mom, Sage Projections—a Seattle-based research and consulting company—provided unbiased consultation and validation on the survey development, methodology and interpretation of results.
Initial Perceptions of Assisted Living
Overall, 85 percent of families delay their search because the senior doesn’t want to move or the family member thinks of substandard care when they envision assisted living. A majority of seniors (62 percent) initially say they would rather stay home and be taken care of by someone they know, while half of families start out with a neutral or negative perception of assisted living facilities.
Seniors’ Positive Experiences after the Move
Contrary to initial expectations, however, both seniors and family caregivers experience a positive change in overall quality of life after a senior moves to assisted living. In fact, seniors who moved are 70 percent more likely than those considering a move to assisted living to report a good overall quality of life and they are 65 percent less likely to have a bad overall quality of life. Once a senior has moved, they are five times more likely to see overall quality of life improve than worsen and 73 percent of families report that a senior’s quality of life got better or much better.
Additionally, 73 percent of respondents reported an improvement in the senior’s nutrition, 64 percent saw the senior’s social well-being improve, 47 percent saw emotional well-being improve and 44 percent saw physical health improve. In each case, a worsening quality of life for the senior was the least likely outcome.
Impact on Caregiver Quality of Life and Finances
After a senior moves to an assisted living community, family caregivers experience improvements in stress, diet, exercise and work without sacrificing financial well-being. Of the families who had a parent or loved one move, 60 percent say their own quality of life improved. Perhaps most importantly, half of families who helped a parent or loved one move say their relationship with the senior improved.
Family members are 24 percent more likely to have a good or very good quality of life if the senior has moved than if the family is still considering an assisted living move for their loved one. Overall, 64 percent of families who helped a loved one make a move feel less stress about their senior loved ones. Additionally, nearly a third (32 percent) of families who transitioned report healthier or much healthier diet and exercise levels after the move.
While many families may be wary about the potential financial burden of relocating a senior into assisted living, they also may not realize the hidden costs of having a senior age at home. When families start paying for at-home care support on top of routine household maintenance, a move to an assisted living community can be comparable in cost while alleviating stress for family caregivers. The monetary well-being of caregivers is largely unaffected after a senior moves, with more than 70 percent of families feeling no change in their financial situation. The transition also opens the door for greater earning potential for caregivers. Out of families who helped a love one make a move, 39 percent report less impact of caregiving on their careers.
“A Place for Mom has more than 15 years of experience helping families find senior housing at no personal cost, and we are well-equipped to guide families in their search for the right senior housing and care solution,” said Severn. “We encourage all families to be proactive in finding the right solution for their loved ones.”
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