If you have ever visited a senior community, you may recognize that they go by many different names; Retirement Home, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Continuing Care Campus and so on. Regardless of the name, they all have one thing in common – they want your loved one to live there.
Each community goes to great lengths to win you over and to seek your attention. Let’s face it, this is a courtship between a consumer (the family interested in the community) and the provider (the community). Lots of money is spent on advertising, collateral, events, promotion, branding, gifts, and salaries. There are several methods that senior communities use to woo the adult child or resident into saying “yes” and I encourage every family to focus on the facts.
Now, don’t get me wrong, marketing is a very good thing and we face it in every aspect of our lives. Choose our website, go to this grocery store, eat here not there, live in this city not that horrible one across the street… you get the picture.
I suggest developing an understanding of what is most important to you first. Are you most concerned with care needs and making sure the hygiene is taken care of? Maybe it is mom’s memory loss and you worry about her sun setting. Are you thinking that dad is depressed and doesn’t’ socialize or eat right since mom passed? There are so many things to consider and it can be difficult to stay on track when there are so many lovely amenities to see. Well, they have a pool and that sure would be fun!
The sales and marketing people that represent are truly great people. They listen, they engage, they have a lot of wisdom about what makes their senior communities special and dynamic. Keep in mind that they are sales personnel whose primary focus is to have your loved one live in the their community.
So, my advice to you:
1) Use a service like ours – (No, no, we’re not the same as the marketing representatives because you don’t pay us!) we can navigate the waters and provide you with resources for the BEST senior communities to meet your needs, your goals, your budget, and everything in between.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Press them for information, get specific examples, explore.
3) Talk to the staff that will be most involved with your loved one.
- If food is the most important thing you’re looking for in senior communities, then have a meal, meet the chef, observe how the staff interact with residents. Look at the menu rotation and see if there are variations, unique dishes, and creativity. Ask how they understand the unique needs of a resident.
- If elder care is a top priority, meet with the Resident Services Director and get an understanding of how they communicate with families. What is staffing like at night versus the day? Talk to the staff that will most likely be involved with your family; what is their communication; are they happy; what do they love most about their job?
- If socialization is a concern, talk with the activity staff. Ask how they get people out of the apartments to socialize. Is there a support group or staff that can help emotionally?
- Had a bad experience elsewhere? Talk with the General Manager; ask how long they have been at the community (not just with the company but with elders or other senior communities); are they involved with families or do they stay in their office; talk about communication, culture and residents needs.
- Talk to the residents – they will tell you everything!
At the end of the day, you must trust the whole package. To do so, it requires a conversation with more than one person. While being in crisis may affect the timing of a move, it is not something to take lightly.
Moving into senior communities are literally a life changing decision and it makes sense to use a service that has insight, experience and awareness of what it is like to actually work in a community. We know the questions to ask, what to look for, and can be your biggest advocate.