Shopping for senior housing can be a daunting task for someone who is new to the industry, the lingo, types of amenities and care services offered. When you are shopping for assistance and care for your aging parent(s), it shouldn't matter if a senior housing company owns 20,000 buildings or 50. All that matters is your family member finds the best fit for their individual personal and care needs.
You have two options when searching for senior housing. And there are pros and cons to each.
The first option is to research communities on your own. Start by asking your friends, who may be in similar situations and can make a recommendation based on their experience. This personal recommendation can be priceless. Next, research online and within your neighborhood to narrow your choices down to 4-5 options based on proximity, care needs, amenities and price range.
My recommendation to get an honest understanding of the community is to walk-in unexpected on a Sunday to see how the building runs. Is the staff kind to residents? Do residents look well cared for? Is the staff attentive and friendly to you? Is the building clean? Do residents seem engaged?
Before you make your final decision, talk with other families and residents who are currently living there and get their opinion of the community. You know your loved one better than anyone and will always be the best judge of whether a place is a perfect fit or not. Doing the legwork on your own will take an investment of time on your part, but it may be the best way to find the perfect location and weed out what will not work quickly.
The second option is to contact a senior housing referral agency. Senior housing has gone the way of the lodging industry. Much like Expedia, senior housing referral agencies are now popping up like dandelions. Using a referring agency is an option, but keep in mind that the senior housing community pays for that referral or directory listing. While you may not know it, a referral agency is an advertising tactic that is paid for by the senior home. If a senior housing community is not part of a referral agency's network, you will never hear about them. And I don't want you to limit your search based on this business practice.
To be fair, Aegis uses select referral agencies. But given these agencies are plentiful, like dandelions, there are far more agencies than we can possibly afford to use. An agency will not "open the world" of senior housing to you. Careful independent research needs to be done along with the resources provided by the agency, so you do not limit your selection and options.
This is not an easy decision but one that is best made by visiting the community, asking lots of questions, speaking with residents, meeting other families and always following your gut.
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