SAN MATEO, Calif., Jan. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The food? The staff? The landscaping? The thing that makes an assisted living community shine may vary from family to family, but overall there's consistency in consumers' reviews of senior communities, and the best ones rise to the top. In an annual recognition program designed to help the growing number of families seeking senior care, 383 assisted living and Alzheimer's care communities in 40 states have been named "Caring Stars of 2013." This nationwide designation recognizes assisted living service excellence based on consumer ratings and reviews posted on Caring.com, the leading website for those caring for aging loved ones -- with nearly two million monthly visitors -- and the Web's #1 source of senior care reviews. To see the complete list of winners, please visit Caring.com/BestSeniorCare.
"We congratulate the Caring Stars of 2013 for receiving this high praise from members of the Caring.com community," said Andy Cohen, cofounder and CEO of Caring.com, who notes that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be age 65 or above.
"Choosing the right senior living situation can be one of the most difficult decisions that individuals and families make," Cohen said. "The Caring Stars of 2013 demonstrate excellence in what matters most to seniors and their loved ones, and these service providers are an inspiration to everyone concerned about this very important issue."
At the start of each year, more families begin seeking assisted living communities for their aging loved ones after visits over the holidays reveal an increased need for eldercare. Google searches for "assisted living" typically rise 20% in January in particular, which is known among senior care service providers as the busiest month for consumer inquiries.
The Caring Stars of 2013 captured the highest possible rating of five stars on Caring.com in reviews from families, seniors, and others concerned about assisted living and Alzheimer's care, while also meeting other qualifying criteria for the honor. These exceptional communities represent the top 1.2% of the nation's more than 31,000 assisted living and Alzheimer's care communities.
"Consumers across the Web increasingly use reviews to guide their selection of products and services of all kinds, and this online word-of-mouth is also growing in importance in the senior care industry," Cohen said. "There's good reason for this. Firsthand testimonials are consistently cited as one of the most important factors for caregivers in choosing an assisted living or Alzheimer's care community for a loved one. Reviews help families figure out which providers to call, what to look for, and what questions to ask."
According to research conducted by Caring.com in May-June 2012, half of family caregivers search online for senior care service providers and two-thirds of caregivers say they looked on the Internet after noticing signs of Alzheimer's disease in a loved one. A combined 94% say online reviews are trustworthy information (45%) and helpful to their search for a senior care provider (49%) -- only a small minority (6%) tend not to believe them. In fact, consumers trust online reviews 12 times more than descriptions from the business owner.
The Caring Stars of 2013 award is based on consumer ratings and reviews that were posted on Caring.com between December 15, 2011, and December 1, 2012. To qualify, the community had to receive: three or more reviews during this timeframe, at least one of which being a 5-star rating; an overall average rating (across all reviews on their listing) equaling greater than 4 stars; and no unresolved negative reviews. To help the Caring Stars communities stand out to families searching for care in their area, a special badge is featured on their listing in Caring.com's assisted living or Alzheimer's care directories and search results.
There are currently 35,000 senior care ratings and reviews posted by consumers on Caring.com. About half of these reviews are for assisted living and Alzheimer's care communities; the rest pertain to other types of senior care (in-home care, nursing homes, hospice, etc.).
Established in 2012 when 120 assisted living communities were designated, the Caring Stars program was expanded this year to include memory-care communities, given the nation's growing focus on the need for quality Alzheimer's care. More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and in October 2010, Caring.com was the first to launch a comprehensive, customizable online resource, Steps & Stages™, to support those who care for them.
To learn more about the Caring Stars program and/or to find local senior care service providers, visit http://www.caring.com/bestseniorcare. Families may also call a toll-free senior care referral line at (866) 824-8174 to find a Caring Star community near them.
Caring.com is the leading website for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Caring.com offers helpful content, guidance from leading experts, a supportive online caregiving community, and the most comprehensive Senior Care Directory in the United States, with 35,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free Family Advisor referral line ( 824-8174). In October 2010, Caring.com launched Steps & Stages™, the Web's first customizable care resource for Alzheimer's and dementia caregiving, which includes a free Custom Care Guide, a stage-based weekly e-newsletter, and online support groups. Based in San Mateo, California, Caring.com is a private company funded by DCM, Intel Capital, Shasta Ventures, and Split Rock Partners.