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Assisted Living Gains Momentum in Senior Care Preferences

By 
Jeff Fang
Jeff Fang is a Harvard 2025 student who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.

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In recent years, elderly care has undergone a significant transformation as an increasing number of seniors enter their golden years healthier than previous generations. 

As evidenced by trends found in online searches, fewer Americans are seeking around-the-clock nursing home care, as assisted living facilities become more popular retirement destinations. A Google Trends report from 2017 to 2023 illuminates a growing interest in assisted living over traditional nursing homes. 

As we delve deeper, the reasons behind this change provide an intriguing insight into the modern elderly care landscape. This shift isn’t a mere blip or temporary inclination but appears to be driven by a confluence of economic, societal, and cultural factors.

Image Credit: Depositphotos.

The Economics of Elderly Care

The cost of elderly care is a concern shared by many families, and as the financial landscape shifts, so do the preferences for specific types of care. The rising costs of nursing homes have made headlines in recent years, pushing families and those nearing retirement to consider other avenues.

Anshul Sharma, a healthcare professional experienced in long-term care, states, “The cost of nursing home care has been rising steadily in recent years. This is making assisted living a more affordable option for many families.”

While cost plays a significant role, assisted living facilities’ evolution has been a game-changer. They aren’t what they used to be; they are no longer just a place for seniors to live but communities brimming with life, activity, and innovation. 

Jennifer Silver, a seasoned dentist and owner of Macleod Trail Dental, observes the evolution: “Over the past few years, there’s been a push to innovate within the assisted living sector, making these facilities more resort-like with spas, art classes, and other recreational activities.”

This innovation within assisted living communities isn’t merely about adding luxury but about enhancing the quality of life for seniors, making the proposition far more attractive. For families, the choice becomes clearer; why not opt for a place where their loved ones can receive necessary care and enjoy a fulfilling, vibrant lifestyle?

Societal Changes and Their Impact

Society’s structure has seen a drastic change over the years. Once tightly-knit and often cohabitating across multiple generations, the family unit has spread out. Modern family dynamics present unique challenges, particularly regarding elderly care.

Jennifer Silver briefly observes this phenomenon: “Modern family structures and dynamics are changing. With more dual-income households and geographically dispersed families, there might be a leaning towards assisted living, where seniors can get support and maintain independence.” The essence of this is the desire to provide the best for our aging family members while managing the complexities of modern life.

Additionally, the concept of “aging in place” has increasingly found favor among seniors and their families. 

As Peter Evering, Business Development Manager at Utopia Property Management, explains, “Aging in place has gained significant traction in recent years, as more older adults and families opt for allowing seniors to remain in their own homes while receiving necessary care.” 

The idea is simple yet profound: the reassurance of one’s home, coupled with the necessary care, offers the perfect blend of comfort, familiarity, and support.

Media’s Influence on the Elderly Care Narrative

The media plays a formidable role in shaping perceptions, and the narrative around elderly care is no exception. Especially during critical times like the pandemic, negative press around nursing homes and the effects of COVID-19 on their residents cast a shadow over the entire industry.

Craig Fukushima from The Fox Group, LLC notes, “During the pandemic, there was a substantial amount of negative press surrounding nursing homes and COVID’s effect on their patients. This likely led many people to seek assisted living communities instead of nursing homes.”

Further cementing this shift in perception are the local news outlets that often spotlight incidents in care facilities. 

Jennifer Silver explains how local events can shape national narratives: “Incidents, either positive or negative, in local care facilities that gain media attention, can shape search trends.” With the rise of digital media and social platforms, such incidents circulate quickly, causing ripple effects across states and influencing care decisions.

Regional Variances in Elderly Care Choices

Geography, strangely enough, plays a significant role in the choices families make about elderly care. Factors such as climate, local culture, cost of living, and the sheer availability of facilities can sway decisions.

Jennifer Silver weighs in on this regional aspect, noting that local dynamics can impact how people perceive their options. “The sheer number and concentration of one type of facility over another in a state can influence search behavior,” she observes.

Craig Fukushima adds an interesting tidbit about the demographic variation between states: “While I don’t have specific demographics to support this, I believe that Rhode Island is one of the “older” states by age demographics while Idaho is one of the “younger” states. In addition, there is a higher penetration of senior living providers in Idaho than Rhode Island.”

Elderly Care Evolution

The transformation in elderly care preferences, as illustrated by search trends, underscores the complex interplay of economic, societal, and regional factors. From evolving family dynamics to the impact of media narratives, the choice between assisted living and nursing homes goes beyond mere care requirements. It reflects a broader societal shift in how we perceive aging and independence and how we increasingly believe that health is wealth in our golden years.

While the digital realm offers a glimpse into these preferences, the real stories lie in the lived experiences of families navigating these choices, ensuring their loved ones receive the care, respect, and vibrant life they deserve.

About the Author

Jeff Fang

Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time. Learn more about Jeff Fang on LinkedIn.

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This article originally appeared on Wealthtender. To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Read our editorial policy and terms of service to learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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