You think it might be time to consider a move to a retirement community either for yourself or an aging parent. But when you start researching retirement communities locally, you’re overwhelmed by the number of options. You realize that sorting out which community is the best fit may take more time and energy than you have available. You’re also not certain you have a thorough understanding of all the questions you should be asking during your search.
Someone suggests that you consider enlisting a senior living advisor to help you. You learn that a senior living advisor (also sometimes referred to as a senior care consultant, senior living care professional, or eldercare advisor) is someone who can guide you through the process of selecting a retirement community that best meets your needs, preferences, and budget.
Senior living advisors are independent in the sense that they don’t work for or represent any particular retirement community. They have detailed knowledge of a range of retirement communities in your area.
Once they’ve taken time to thoroughly understand your situation, your needs, and your wishes, they’ll suggest a list of communities that appear to be a good fit. The next step is usually to visit the leading contenders. Then the senior living advisor will help you make an informed final choice and guide you through the next steps.
Since senior living advisors are generally paid by retirement communities when someone moves in, you often won’t need to pay for their services.
Choosing a senior living advisor
Here are 9 things to keep in mind when choosing a senior living advisor.
How detailed is their knowledge of local retirement communities? Have they actually visited every community in-person? Do they have established relationships with other local community resources that might be helpful such as senior service agencies or senior-focused realtors and moving companies?
Will they meet with you in-person or over the phone? Because of the delicate nature of the conversations you’ll be having with them (and possibly other members of your family), in-person meetings are usually best. Plus, a home visit will give them a better understanding of your current situation.
Are they available to accompany you on visits to retirement communities? If they come along with you, they can prompt you to ask important questions that might have slipped your mind and help you make sense of everything afterwards.
How many years of experience do they have? Remember, you’re relying on their knowledge, judgement, and communication skills.
How responsive are they? Did they get back to you quickly when you first reached out to them or did you have to wait for days?
What happens if you defer the decision to move? Are you likely to get unwanted follow-up calls from someone else in their company who treats you more like a sales lead than someone with unique needs and wishes?
How comfortable are you talking with them? Do you feel heard? Are they empathetic? Are they able to handle tricky conversations? Do you come away feeling that you’re clear about next steps?
Do they have free educational resources that help you get a better understanding of what to consider?
What is the scope of their free services? Keep in mind that senior living advisors are paid by retirement communities when someone moves in. However, advisors may not have agreements with every community in the area. What happens if you want to consider local retirement communities that aren’t on their “list”? Are they willing to include any of these other communities in your search, and if so, is there a fee? Or what if you just want help exploring your options at this point and aren’t ready to make a move yet?
At Tea and Toast, our senior living advisors are experts on retirement communities in Ottawa and surrounding areas. We know them inside and out. Call, text, or email us.