The majority of seniors are expected to need long-term care at some point in their lives, and the cost for everything from home health services to nursing home care continues to rise. What’s more, costs can vary by thousands of dollars per month from one area or housing community to the next for older adults and their families looking at senior housing options. Those choices include independent living – for those who generally don’t require ongoing care or have limited needs that may be met through arrangements like in-home care services; assisted living, which provides individualized support services and care; or a nursing home – the highest level of care.
Senior housing occupancy increased 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 88.0 percent, according to new data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). San Jose (95.7%) and New York (91.3%) experienced the highest occupancy rates of the 31 metropolitan markets that comprise NIC’s Primary Markets. Atlanta (82.7%) and Houston (82.5%) recorded the lowest. Las Vegas experienced the largest occupancy increase from a year ago, rising from 80.3 percent to 84.1 percent. Cincinnati saw the largest year-over-year decrease, falling from 89.7 percent to 86.4 percent.
In a breakout of senior housing types, assisted living occupancy increased to 85.7 percent in the fourth quarter, from a recent record low of 85.1 percent earlier in the year as demand outpaced new inventory growth. The occupancy rate for independent living decreased to 90.0 percent in the fourth quarter, below its recent peak of 90.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019 and down from 90.3 percent one year earlier.
“It appears that 2019 was an inflection year for assisted living with the occupancy rate at its highest level in two years after having reached its trough and new construction continuing to slow,” said Chuck Harry, head of research and analytics at NIC.