Aging, along with death and taxes, is one of the few absolutes in life. And physical assistance will inevitably be needed for the strongest and healthiest of us. Based on several different studies involving thousands of interviews, IQS Research has conducted, we have identified several patterns involving how decisions are made for in-home elder care and medical services for aging parents and grandparents.

In this case, we’re not referring to in-facility care, assisted living, or nursing homes. Perhaps a wife has had a fall, and her

resulting condition makes it impossible for the husband to physically provide the care needed. Or a spouse passes, and the surviving person has difficulty managing his or her affairs without assistance.

Our market research studies focus on care that is needed in a elderly person’s or couple’s home. Basically, the individuals who are not yet in need of full-time care, but instead need services like a visiting nurse to dispense medication and check health status; companions to play cards and watch TV with; assistance with home chores, cooking, or personal care.

One of the challenges of in-home care is understanding and accepting who the major players are. And of course this can be different from family to family, but what our research has shown is that in the vast majority of cases, it is the eldest daughter of the family that makes the final decisions about parental continuing care. Even if the oldest child is a son, it is the oldest daughter who takes the reins in decision making and monitoring. If parents are capable of living at home, they will have a say, of course, but the responsibility of obtaining care lands most often on the daughter.

Interestingly, what siblings are willing to pay for is different along gender lines. Now, neither gender child is often willing to hire companion care, but a son is much more likely to hire home nursing and personal care/hygiene than daughters. That might sound bad at first, but beneath this is the “guilt factor.” This refers to the fact that in most cases, the daughter resists outsourcing these types of services because she feels as though she should be providing her parents that type of care herself.  There are also differences between willingness to purchase services depending on whether the recipient is the mother or father.

So what does all this mean for home medical service providers?

Basically this: as you market your services, it’s important to look at who you’re marketing to. Most senior care marketers figured out a long time ago that the information should have been geared to the children of the seniors, rather than the seniors themselves. Using medical market research can help find the answers.

There is no doubt the decision process is complex and there are many variables beyond the scope of this post.  But what our research is showing is that the marketing material should even be more gender-specific. Use language that assuages the “guilt factor,” that speaks to the daughter, and that helps the children of the parents make the decisions that makes the process of choosing home care much smoother.

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