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Content Spark: Home for the Holidays — January Spike for Senior Care Search

It’s the ‘holly jolly’ winter holiday season, and with it: several opportunities for your senior care organization to share valuable information and resources with older adults and their adult children. Whether it’s a checklist of things to look for while visiting aging parents’ homes, or gift guides, or helping them find you in January after realizing an elder loved one needs more care than previously thought, there are so many topics for you to cover this month to meet the needs of your current clients and attract new ones.Senior woman and gift

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Pick 1-3 holiday related topics for your blog article(s), and find a local angle. Unless you’re a major publisher who’s been covering “Home for the Holidays” for years and already ranks on search engines for this subject, it will be hard for your content to be found. But search engines are where many of your prospective clients will head first to find senior care information — so if you want to rank for holiday-related topics, use local angles for any of your “Home for the Holidays” coverage in December or January. Examples of how to take the general topic and ‘localize’ it: “Visiting Aging Parents in Chicago for the Holidays? 5 Things to Look For in Their Home” or “Our Favorite Gifts for Chicago Seniors” or “What To Do in Chicago for the Holidays — Making the Most of Season with Your Senior Relatives.”
  • Contact local journalists and make them aware of your expert(s) and/or tips for adult children visiting elder loved ones in the area this holiday season. If they’re already covering the “Home for the Holidays” topic, they’ll need experts to quote — and that can be a great way to raise awareness about your senior care organization with folks who may not yet know about your services. And if the media outlet wasn’t already aware of the spike in senior care searches in January (post-holiday visits with elder relatives), you can help provide them with content valuable to their readers or viewers. Consider a “Letter to the Editor” for your local newspaper, or sending the story as a tip to your local TV station.
  • To build deeper, stronger relationships with your existing clients: rather than focusing on identifying increased senior care needs or finding the best senior care services, you can instead cover topics that will help them optimize the holiday season. It could be helping them have great family visits (at home or in a senior living community), understanding and facing the unique challenges of celebrating the holidays with loved ones living with dementia, or supporting families facing or experiencing grief this season.
  • If ‘January has come early’ and you’re already feeling the rush of senior care searches around the holidays — and thus don’t have time to create original content this month: curate a ’round up’ or list of links to your favorite holiday related articles from other knowledgeable organizations, including both local organizations (such as the nearby chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association) or national senior care publishers (like the National Alliance for Caregiving, Caring.com or AARP) with trustworthy, well-vetted tips that will help those you serve and attract new customers to your senior care organization as well.
  • Make sure your business profiles — on both social networks and online directories — have the most accurate and compelling information about your organization. Be sure your services are described well (not so rich with industry jargon that a newbie doesn’t understand what you do). Your profiles should have excellent photos and/or videos, as well as reviews — if you don’t already have some on your profiles, get them ASAP to attract and persuade prospective clients. And include the best way to reach your organization — so that when those adult children go online to find help, they also know how to contact you.
      Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
    • Have a move-in special this month or in January? Make sure your referral partners — and prospects already in your pipeline — know about it! Make it easy to find on your social media profiles, website, and in your e-newsletter too.
    • Hosting any holiday events or activities that will be open to the public (such as a tree lighting, caroling, or movie screenings, etc.)? Be sure it gets added to the online event calendars for your area and is sent to the events section of your local newspaper. Here’s an example: Bailey Manor Retirement Community in Clinton, South Carolina hosts a “Festival of Trees” with decorated trees, wreaths, villages and gingerbread houses, which they publicized on their Facebook page and in the local newspaper too.
    • While your community’s holiday events do present lots of “photo ops,” make sure that your staff are aware of your photography and social media policies, that your community has all waivers on file (and up to date), and that you respect the dignity and privacy of your residents — this is particularly important for memory care communities.
        Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
      • Does your agency have any special stories of staff going above and beyond to help seniors aging in place (and possibly alone) this holiday season? For example, Barbra “BJ” Corn of Silver Angels in Monterey, Tennessee provided a 70-year-old mentally challenged client with her first-ever Christmas celebration, including a tree with gifts, home decorations, a special breakfast and dinner, introduction to neighbors in her housing complex, and indescribable joy at a time when she may have otherwise been alone and overlooked. They shared this story on Caring.com, earning Barbra a national award (with cash bonus) and related PR in local media. If your agency has similar heartwarming stories, consider getting their (and as needed adult children’s) permission to share the story on your blog or with local reporters — it’s a great way to recognize the professional caregiver for a job well done, reinforce the value you’re adding for that senior’s life, and demonstrate the high quality in-home care your agency provides to others not yet using your services.
          Caring Resources to Support this Spark
            Additional Resources to Support this Spark
          • Contact your city’s Parks & Recreation Department and find out what senior-friendly events they have scheduled this time of year. Include that any “Holiday To Do” coverage you do on your blog or social media profiles.
          • If you focus on holidays with seniors who have a certain condition — such as Alzheimer’s or cancer — find local nonprofits or organizations focused on those conditions, and partner with them on content, either by including their tips and events in your blog posts and social posts, or vice versa, joining the conversations on their blogs, websites, and social profiles.

            Content Spark: Helping Seniors Avoid Scams, Identity Theft & Other Financial Elder Abuse

            Law enforcement and government officials warn that scams targeting seniors increase around the holidays — such as this holiday scam advisory from the Attorney General of Ohio. People are more in the ‘giving mood’ or more distracted (less guarded) this time of year as well. Help ensure that older adults in your area don’t get taken advantage of — help them avoid financial elder abuse this holiday season and throughout the year.Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

            Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

            • Contact local law enforcement or government officials (such as the city manager or city council members) in your area to see if they’re warning local residents of any specific scams they’re seeing this time of year, particularly those that could easily reach and harm seniors (e.g., is package theft a problem this year in your area? What do they recommend for residents?). Let them know that you’d like to make sure that the seniors you serve are made aware, and will share their information or quotes on your blog. Some may already have this information on their social media profiles or websites — if so, excerpt and link to that information from your newsletter, blog or social profiles to help your clients and their family members.
            • Interview a certified financial advisor, certified financial planner, or licensed highly-rated accountant in your area and compile his/her tips to help seniors avoid financial abuse. Or contact a national organization like Elderlife or EverSafe that focuses on seniors’ financial safety and share their top tips.
            • Compile information and resources from senior care experts — such as geriatric care managers, social workers, senior care authors, and others — to help those you serve be aware of the scams and forms of financial abuse, how to avoid them, and what to do if they suspect they’ve fallen victim to identity theft, elder abuse or financial scams.
                Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
              • Consider hosting an event for your residents (and their family members) that includes a guest speaker from a local financial planning or elder abuse prevention organization. You could compliment this event with a co-branded handout for participants with the key tips in an at-a-glance format and “more info” list of resources they can use to avoid scams and financial elder abuse.
              • Be extra vigilant or beware of any external visitors to your community around this time who aren’t there to visit a resident loved one. One senior living community had a visitor who claimed they needed someone to help change their $100 bill into smaller bills — an elder resident overheard the visitor ask at the front desk, took pity on the guest, traded the $100 bill for five $20 bills, and it turned out the $100 bill was a fake (law enforcement had to get involved and the resident’s adult child was very angry with the senior living community for allowing the visitor into the community). As much as you can: prepare your staff to help protect your senior residents from falling victim to such scams.
                  Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
                • Some families don’t realize that hiring a private in-home caregiver off the Internet (like via Craigslist) or via word-of-mouth — rather than hiring a licensed, bonded agency — can increase the risk of their senior loved one falling prey to financial abuse, theft, or scams in the home. This could be an opportunity to remind your existing clients about the precautions you’ve taken — such as extensive background checks and periodic drug testing of your caregivers — to deliver top-notch service they don’t have to worry about. Or you could do a guest post in a local newspaper or on a site like Patch.com to educate adult children about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors rather than a highly-rated agency. Here’s an example of such an article: “In Home Care – Agency, Registry, or Independent?” or another: “Risks of Hiring Caregivers Under the Table.”
                • Consider special training for your caregivers this month — to help them spot the warning signs of financial abuse or scams the senior client may be falling victim to, and remind them of your agency’s protocols for taking action. Then write up a blog post about why you offer this training periodically to your caregivers, why elder financial abuse is a concern this time of year, and how family members can join with you to protect their elder loved ones from holiday scams, identity theft and other financial abuse.
                    Caring Resources to Support this Spark
                      Additional Resources to Support this Spark

                      Content Spark: Helping a Senior Move or Downsize

                      Around this time of year, it’s not uncommon to discover that elder loved ones need to reconsider their living situations — whether to reduce clutter for decreasing fall risks, overcome years of hoarding, or to move and downsize based on increased senior care needs. Your organization can help guide older adults and their loved ones through the various aspects of this process — from how to make the difficult downsizing decisions in the first place and assisting with the practicalities of these changes, to optimizing the move and adjustment. Senior Couple Moving

                      Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

                      • Help family caregivers and older adults identify signs that it’s time to downsize or consider a move. Give them reasons it’s important to periodically assess the elder’s living space (such as fall risks, mold and dust, maintenance, and even clues that the elder needs more care help, such as piles of old newspapers and years-old food in the freezer). Make your content practical too: include checklists and tips for taking proactive, position action. You could even enter the conversation by creating a list of the best local places to donate used goods — to make room for all the wonderful holiday gifts from family and friends this year.
                      • Interview a senior location specialist or senior move manager — such as those working with Caring Transitions — and include their expert insights and tips in your coverage this month.
                      • Consider tackling a single aspect of downsizing or relocating — such as helping the senior figure out what to do with the 30+ years of family photos, or how to use sites like eBay or mobile apps like Trove or Close5, to turn old junk into cash. This approach can help the family caregiver or older adult ease into what seems an enormous project — like downsizing from a 4-bedroom house lived in for 50+ years to a 1-bedroom independent living apartment. It could even be that you start with the psychological aspects of downsizing first — such as the tips covered in the book, Stuffology 101 by Brenda Avadian of The Caregiver’s Voice and Eric Riddle.
                          Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
                        • Do any of your residents have stories they’re willing to share publicly about how they successfully downsized to move into your community? Consider interviewing residents to gather their tips and stories for your content on this topic — after all, who better an expert than someone who has successfully downsized and now loves their new digs? With their participation, you also could mask their real identities by using first names only or pseudonyms. The point is to help other seniors like them see that it’s not only possible but can bring many benefits and joys too.
                        • Does your community have any special attributes that help seniors to not only keep but showcase some of their treasures, such as a special photo wall or unique memento display cases? Consider blogging about that feature and how it helps seniors in the downsizing process without losing their keepsakes. Or maybe host an activity where you show senior residents how to take old photos from boxes of old albums and turn those into digital files they store (in a safe, easy to access place) online instead, such as Flickr, Dropbox, or Shutterfly.
                            Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
                          • Can your in-home caregivers assist an elder client with the downsizing or relocation process? If so, include some details about those services you offer in your coverage of this topic. Gather some tips from your staff who’ve done this with clients previously. What worked best or what would they suggest others do to optimize downsizing or relocation (any tips they’d share)? Did they learn anything from helping an elder downsize that could be helpful to the family members of other seniors? Your in-house experts may be the best of all!
                              Caring Resources to Support this Spark
                                Additional Resources to Support this Spark
                              • STUFFology 101: A website, book, and blog with fun & flexile approaches to get your mind out of the clutter