Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: Is Free Advice the Best Advice?

Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: Is Free Advice the Best Advice?

By Miriam Zucker LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM

Often when family members seek the guidance of an Aging Life Care specialist, it is at a time of change. The concerns may be about obtaining home care, learning of entitlements, a discharge from the hospital or a move from home to assisted living. With the latter, the ever-increasing prevalence of assisted living residences, can make the selection overwhelming.

The residences all look beautiful.  In fact, you jokingly say to yourself, “I wouldn’t mind living in one of these places myself.” Residents appear cheerfully engaged in a game of cards, attending a morning exercise class or eating what appears to be mouthwatering meal. They are attired in casual elegance with their snow-white hair coiffed to perfection. Beautiful places, beautiful people. Where to turn for advice?  In the back of your mind you recall a TV commercial or someone’s caring voice on the radio saying, “I’ve been there, I know how hard this decision can be and I can help.” You feel relieved, someone understands, there’s help and to make things even better, it’s free!

When this Aging Life Care specialist hears “free” it makes her think of those TV commercials. “Just add shipping and handling and we’ll send you the second vege-o-matic absolutely free.” There’s got to be a catch. And so it is with the free services offered in finding an assisted living residence. Let me explain.

The service is indeed free to the caller, but the offerings presented to you by the elder care adviser consists of only those assisted living residences that have signed on with the company. Those residences will pay a commission to the advisor representing the referral company, if you sign a contract with the residence they have recommended. So yes, it is free to you, with a commission coming from the assisted living once a contract is signed.

But this is the caveat, it is ONLY those assisted livings that have signed on to the referral program that the senior advisor will tell you about. What about the other senior residences that prefer not to sign on to this referral service? You, the consumer, may not learn about other assisted living facilities in the area and just maybe, they would be a better fit for your relative. Enter the Aging Life Care specialist.

The Aging Life Care specialist, is not bound by any restrictions. We have a familiarity with ALL the assisted living residences in the respective areas we serve. Often, we have had long standing relationships with the administrative staff. We have learned from our own experience and those of the families we have helped, the strengths and the weaknesses of each of these facilities. We know which ones to stay away from. The Aging Life Care specialists are looking to make the right match using their professional and experiential knowledge combined with their concrete knowledge of the array of senior residences.

So, two vege-o-matics may be nice to own, but when it comes to making the right choice for assisted living, the use of an Aging Life Care will bring a full spectrum of knowledge to the situation and only after a thorough understanding of the needs of the adult senior will recommendations be made.  And those recommendations will be based on ALL the residences in the desired geographic area.

Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM is the founder of Directions in Aging based in New Rochelle, New York. She has been an ALC specialist since 1988. Throughout the years, she has been wined and dined by assisted living residences throughout Westchester County, New York.  But no matter the enticements, she has never been sidetracked by the fact that good food, aged wine and an annual Christmas gift, do not equate with quality care.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

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