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Funeral Homes Prepare For Baby Boomer Generation

Funeral homes may experience an increase in the amount of "death calls" that they receive due to the baby boomer generation, especially in the three-year period between 2013 and 2015, said Terri Flynn, executive director of the Westchester County Funeral Homes Association.

While the county's funeral homes vary in size and traffic, with smaller homes averaging between five to 10 funerals each month and larger homes pulling in north of 30, Flynn does not expect problems when baby boomers pass on.

"So far there's not any increase that I've noticed," said Mike Masullo, funeral director for Leach & Thomas Funeral Home on State Street in Ossining.

Wake times have shrunk, allowing funeral directors to handle their cases better.

"People used to have wakes for two or three days. That's just not done anymore. I don't honestly know why, it's just the changing customs," Masullo said.

More families are choosing direct cremation, Flynn said, which is a more cost-effective alternative with no wake period.

According to Flynn, the increase in deaths due to baby boomers will not result in new funeral homes opening throughout the county.

"It's quite an expense to open one," she said. "And it's difficult to build a client base as families tend to deal with those that they have dealt with in the past, are affiliated to their church or synagogue, or that is local to their neighborhood."

While some funeral homes are integrating social media into their practice, naysayers allege that it comes with drawbacks. Homes are often run by older owners who are not tech-savvy or fear bad brand management and do not have the personal time to devote to its upkeep.

If someone close passes away, Flynn shared a key piece of advice for a smooth arrangement. After leaving a message for the funeral director, wait for their response, which usually takes 10 minutes. Calling family and friends is moot, Flynn said, as service times have not been set.

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