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Aging Ain’t Easy: 8 Common Problems in the Senior Housing Business

There are currently 47 million seniors who live in the United States. If you’re looking to start a profitable business working with senior citizens, opening up an assisted living facility is a great idea.

There comes a point where family and loved ones are not equipped to take care of a senior citizen. This can be due to a range of mental and physical ailments.

For example, 1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 10 men will develop dementia after the age of 55.

If you’re considering opening up an assisted living facility, you need to be sure you’re running it well. Here are 8 common problems in the senior housing business.

1. Not Developing the Correct Structure

Each senior home has the fundamentals of what they can provide and what they can treat. Before opening your senior home, you need to know what to offer residents.

If you want to provide medical care, you need to promote your home as an assisted care facility. This structure offers housing, personal care, and medical care under one roof.

What if you don’t want the liability or have the funds to cover medical care? A nursing home is designed to offer housing and personal care to seniors who don’t need constant medical attention but can’t or don’t want to live alone.

Read this article to learn more about the differences between an assisted living facility and a nursing home.

2. Bad Customer Service

Moving into a nursing home is stressful for any senior. In many cases, the senior home staff doesn’t make the transition that much better. Common senior home staff complaints include poor communication and rude behavior.

That’s why your staff should provide the most care. If you plan on running a large facility, it’ll be difficult to manage your whole staff and residents. Always have multiple managers on the floor to ensure your residents are treated well.

When hiring, pay attention to your applicant’s experience and their references.

Be vigilant while they’re on the floor — if you witness rude behavior, immediately give a warning or even fire them.

While no senior home wants bad customer service, negative resident attitudes can go a step further…

3. Elder Abuse

Approximately 3.2 million seniors in nursing homes are subject to abuse. And only 1 out of 14 abuse cases reach authorities. While 90% of the abuse is caused by family members, there’s a good chance your staff are the abusers.

Most elder abuse consists of neglect and even isolation. But many elder abuse causes consist of physical, verbal, and even sexual abuse.

As mentioned in the previous point, be vigilant when hiring staff and ensure they’re constantly supervised.

4. Residents Don’t Have Enough Independence

As stated previously, moving into a senior home is stressful for any senior. The main reason why is because they feel like they’re losing their independence.

Unless the senior is physically or mentally unfit to stay independent, there’s no reason why seniors should lose their independence at a home.

Start by including activities and classes at your facility. Keep your residents active and social by hosting fitness and participating groups.

When your residents move in, ask about their favorite hobbies and pastimes.

You’ll be shocked at how many seniors love hobbies such as cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, painting, and playing music. Try to accommodate as many of these hobbies as you can at your facility.

5. Not Enough Startup Costs

Running an assisted living facility is costly. Before you get residents, most of those costs will be ones you have to pay up-front with no sales.

These costs include buying the property, designing the home, hiring staff, and paying for a myriad of medical supplies, food, transportation, entertainment, and other essentials that will keep your residents healthy and happy.

Before investing in your senior home, make sure you have enough cash or a powerful financing option to cover the overhead costs.

6. Not Tracking Your Expenses

Let’s say you got through the overhead cost ordeals and now you have a steady stream of residents.

Even with sales, the costs of keeping up with the home is expensive. That’s why you need to track cash flow, both going in and out of the home.

Some common examples of cash flow going out include food, employee salaries, marketing expenses, taxes, utilities, and insurance.

But with those expenses, you don’t want to upcharge residents. Track your cash flow to ensure you’re receiving your ROI.

7. Lack of Technology

Software and other technological advancements are a core aspect of modern businesses. Your senior home is no exception. Even though your residents may not be technologically-savvy, their family members and loved ones likely are.

Provide technology where residents and their loved ones can easily access many functions. This includes bill pay, a daily schedule, and contacting the home.

Technology is also essential to the success of your business, outside of your customers. You’ll receive better SEO performance with a responsive website and social media will help more potential customers find your home.

8. Taking Too Much Time to Receive a Permit

Did you know you need to get your assisted living facility approved by your local community and state before you go ahead with opening your home? To prove your approval, you need a permit.

Unfortunately, receiving a permit isn’t easy — especially in a competitive area.

Expect close to a year after many consultations with government agencies, law enforcement, and lawyers.

The best thing you can do is do as much research as possible. Research the local competition and how your home can stand out.

Are You Ready for the Senior Housing Business?

While opening up an assisted living facility is profitable, the senior housing business isn’t easy to break into. You need approval from the government, plenty of money, and can be subject to legal issues.

Know the most common problems before going forth with opening your senior home.

For more business advice, visit our business section where we help businesses of all types succeed.