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Success in Seniors Real Estate

The Best Way to Refer to Retirement Homes

‘Community’ is the word you want to use to describe retirement homes.

What is the correct word for retirement homes? 

That’s a great question because there are many ways to describe them. Sometimes you hear ‘retirement community’ (a great way to describe them). Sometimes you hear ‘senior living community’ (another great term). You’ll also hear ‘retirement home’ occasionally, but that’s kind of a dated term. Another description is ‘retirement facility,’ which puts me over the edge. The hair on the back of my neck stands up, I start to shake, and I think my team starts wondering whether I’m going to come over the table at somebody. Nobody wants to live in a ‘facility.’ I don’t want to live in a ‘facility,’ and seniors don’t either. 

So how do we describe communities for adults who are 55 years old or older (or 62 and over)? I recommend substituting ‘community’ for ‘facility.’ That said, if you’re specializing in the senior market, there are a few scenarios you should take into consideration. 

For example, this might be important when networking. If you’re networking with a group of people who work in the industry and serve seniors through an independent living community (or a CCRC), you’ll hear them refer to their community as a community—not a facility. If you refer to it as a facility, you instantly lose rapport with them. In a networking meeting, for instance, you’ll say something like, ‘Oh, I understand you work for XYZ senior living community. That’s great! Tell me more about it.’ If you use the word ‘facility’ there, you’ll lose them altogether. They’ll know you’re not the real deal because you’re not speaking their language. 

 “If you’re mirroring and matching and trying to build rapport with them, you use their words.” 

Conversely, if you’re networking with someone who’s working at a healthcare or assisted living community, you might hear them use the word ‘facility’ more often. It’s more of a healthcare term, and you see it in the nursing industry as well. If you’re mirroring and matching and trying to build rapport with them, you use their words. 

Here’s the tricky thing, though: If you’re talking to a senior adult who’s describing where they want to move, they may say, ‘I’m going to move to the home,’ or ‘My daughter wants me to move to one of those facilities.’ If you’re just getting to know them, you want to have a rapport with them, which means you use their words. Over time, though, you could change it up a little and say something like, ‘You know what? That facility you mentioned is a really beautiful community. I’ve been to that community many times.’ What you’re illustrating to them is that you use the word ‘community’ without having to correct them.

Another time things can get confusing is when you’re writing an article or blog post. Do you use the word ‘facility’ then? If you’re looking for SEO, you probably want to use both words and compare and contrast them so you’re searchable. Even though the word ‘facility’ is being pushed aside in the industry, the public may still be using it and searching for the term.

As a rule of thumb, the word ‘facility’ is out. If you’re talking about marketing yourself as an expert in senior living options, cross it out, substitute ‘community’ for it, and ingrain that into your vocabulary. You’ll have better results, people will better identify with you, and they’ll appreciate you focusing on the words that matter to the clients. 

For more information on this topic, you can refer to an earlier blog post I made about it here. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to me by phone or email. I’d love to hear from you.

If you are considering a specialty working with mature homeowners and downsizing seniors, join our community of Certified Senior Housing Professionals and sign up today for Success in Seniors Real Estate

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