Although a relatively new field, a Retirement Living Advisor, also known as; Senior Living Counsellors, Retirement Home Counsellors, Retirement Consultants etc. can be a valuable resource for seniors and their families.
Many of my senior clients call Tea & Toast because they have no idea where to start. Some of them have no children or family, others have busy children and a few have told me “my kids tell me we need to do something…” but then no one follows through.
As a retirement living advisor working directly with seniors, we offer an impartial objective look at the whole situation. Our job isn’t necessarily to only move you into a retirement residence, it is to look at the obstacles and offer solutions.
I was once called into a home by a lovely couple who didn’t know where to start. Their children said something needed to be done about their current situation, but then left them hanging there in the lurch with no direction or solutions to offer.
After spending about an hour with these folks, many things were uncovered that were troubling:
Mrs. had Alzheimer’s and her memory was fading fast
Laundry was in the basement, down a set of steep stairs. I was told by Mr. “I bring the laundry down one step at a time and then Mrs. follows holding on to the rail”
This couple was not eating properly
At the end of our conversation, it was clear that they were not emotionally ready to move to a retirement residence. However, they did need some assistance in the home to remain as independent as possible. It was recommended (and contacts were given) that they have some caregivers come in to take some of the risky tasks off their hands, as well as a few other services.
A retirement living advisor is a fresh pair of experienced eyes. Someone who has your best interests in mind but isn’t so close to the situation that they are influenced by things such as family dynamics etc.
Benefits for Adult Children & Families
For families of seniors, retirement living advisors are experienced professionals, usually from the retirement industry who can do the bulk of the research, make the calls to the retirement residences and even join the family while they tour to help narrow down and make decisions. Thus, taking the added pressure and stress off the family.
Many of the adult children I work with are working full time jobs, or running a business; have children still at home and are keeping up a household. In order to accomplish the amount of research needed to properly find the right home, it requires hours and hours of internet research, time away from work and home life as well as hours of touring and decision making.
To work with a retirement living advisor means spending 30 min to 60 min discussing the situation and then letting us do the search and book the tours, all while emailing or calling to keep you informed. The only time that you will need to dedicate past the first conversation is about an hour per tour (usually 3 tours are done). Additionally, if needed, these can also be done in the late afternoons or on weekends.
Choosing the Right Retirement Living Advisor
The retirement advisor you choose should be a professional resource for you, who is easy to get along with and has a genuine interest in helping you through the process. Their fees are usually covered by the retirement residences.
Criteria to take into consideration includes;
What is the company’s background?
What is their customer service like? Do they return calls and follow up promptly? Can you reach them when necessary?
Do they charge for their service?
Are they upfront about the retirement residences they work with (not all retirement homes in Ottawa work with advisors)? How do they deal with the homes who are not in their portfolio?