May Data Show Assisted Living Communities See Decreased Occupancy

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting assisted living occupancy, according to new data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), which said assisted living properties saw a 0.9 percentage point decline to 85.2 percent stabilized occupancy in May 2020 in the nation’s largest 31 metropolitan areas.

NIC said this compares with 86.1 percent occupancy in April and 87.8 percent occupancy in March, the first full month affected by COVID-19.

“The impact was less severe for independent living properties, which experienced a 0.6 percentage point decrease to 89.5 percent in May, down from 90.1 percent in April and 91.4 percent in March,” NIC said.

But there is a glimmer of hope from the newest data, NIC said, noting that the change in occupancy in May was less than the previous month in both independent and assisted living facilities, suggesting occupancy declines may be stabilizing.

“It’s too soon to predict whether senior housing occupancy will steady in the months ahead, but it’s a critical piece of information to monitor closely,” said Brian Jurutka, NIC’s president and chief executive officer. “Occupancy shifts are key indicators for property operators to guide informed decisions about residency and current and future staffing needs.”

Fresh occupancy numbers are part of the group’s NIC MAP Data Service. This same service released a previous report that said the first full month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States resulted in seniors housing occupancy sliding by a 1.1 percentage point decrease to 88.7 percent, while skilled nursing facility occupancy was down 2.2 percentage points to 84.7 percent.

The assisted living and independent living statistics are featured in NIC’s Intra-Quarterly Snapshot, a monthly publication developed to increase transparency about seniors housing and care during an unprecedented time for the sector, due to the effects of COVID-19.

“The data showing declines in occupancy at assisted living properties validate what property operators have said about the impact of COVID-19 on the seniors housing sector,” said Beth Burnham Mace, NIC’s chief economist.

“Assisted living residents tend to be frailer than independent living residents and often have multiple chronic diseases. Their need for more care means greater risk of complications from COVID-19.”

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