What help is out there to navigate the search for Senior Living

In the last 30 years senior living as an industry has exploded. Before 1981 the only option for care was the local “rest home”. Let’s be honest the memories of walking the halls to visit a family member in one of those “homes” is not a pleasant one. The culture of care for our elderly loved ones took on big changes in the 1980’s which resulted in an influx of companies joining the Assisted Living industry in the 1990’s. The industry continues to evolve with each generation and with that comes resources to help families find the best living options for their loved one.

Below are 5 senior living placement resources and how each of them work.

  1. Online placement support. “A Place for Mom” and “Caring.com” are two of the biggest and the first ones that come to mind. A lot of times when you go online and search “senior living” in your area you don’t even realize that you are putting in a request on one of these sites. Once you plug in your information and press submit…be ready for the phone calls. These sites work by sending the information you provided to all communities that partner with them. The phone calls from the local communities who received your information start right away and can feel very overwhelming. The experience with these companies is very impersonal as they just pass on your information to their “community partners”. This service is free to the consumer, but if you move into a community that received your information from one of these services the community pays a commission to the online placement company for the referral. Be mindful that these services will only send your information to the local communities they partner with, so you may not be hearing from all the options available. Some of the most sought after communities don’t partner with online placement companies because they are successful without the help.
  2. Local placement support that is free to the family. There are many companies that offer a very personal approach to searching and are free to the family. Most of these companies provide you a representative that will go with you to tour the communities and offer their opinions and experiences. This option works great for many families since it is free, but be aware that just like the online placement companies these local companies make their money by commissions from the community you choose to move into. They say they are not biased and will take you to every community that fits your criteria but once again there has to be a little bias…everyone has to make a living.
  3. Medical Insurance or company associate assistance programs. There are insurance plans and some large companies that will offer support to their members/associates. Every company is different in how they do this; for example, a local large software company in the Raleigh area has a social worker on staff that specifically helps associates navigate issues or concerns that arise while supporting an aging loved one. Other companies have an associate assistance hotline that connects associates with a variety of resources for all types of concerns. Reach out to your Human Resource support to get more information on what is available to you.
  4. Personal Aging navigator. This is an individual who has the experience and will walk you through any aging issues that you encounter; one of them being searching for senior living. These companies bill directly to the family so there is no concern of bias and you know you will see everything that fits your needs. They will also give you their opinions and help you learn how to get the best deal and what to look for. When searching for this type of support make sure you choose someone that has real industry experience and not just went through the process with their mom and decided to start a company.
  5. Do it yourself! Be prepared for many hours of researching and touring communities. Knowing the right questions to ask and realistic expectations of living in a community is priceless information and can be challenging to know without support. Having an expert help you will not only save you time but money.

Using a free service or a more concierge approach when searching for a senior living community will maximize your time and energy while ensuring you are making a well informed decision. This is a confusing and challenging journey to go on so outsourcing especially with all the options listed above makes the most sense for most families.