November 10, 2016
A version of this article originally appeared on Angie's List.
A senior living advisor, also sometimes referred to as a senior care consultant, senior living care professional, or elder care advisor, is someone who guides individuals and their families through the process of finding the best housing option for their needs and budget when they’re looking towards the next step. These professionals work for an advisor company which has established ties and a network of communities in the area that they know inside and out, as well as a firm familiarity with the world of senior living and elder care. Since senior living advisors are paid by the senior communities when someone moves in, they work at no cost to the individual and their family.
What DO they do?
Personalization: When a senior living advisor is called upon, it’s a personal, customized experience. They’ll begin by taking time on the phone or in person to understand the individual and their loved one’s whole situation, the background, the emotional and care needs, and their wishes. With this understanding, they draw from their vast assortment of knowledge and resources to suggest specific, personalized options for housing or care, along with detailed information about the processes and next steps.
These options may expand beyond just senior living communities in the area. For example, if an individual is leaning towards a move to a senior community, but when the advisor hears their story and understands their wishes, they realize that simply downsizing may fit their needs better than moving to a supportive senior community at that time. They’ll take a more holistic approach by pointing that out.
Choices: After a list of living or care options is presented by the advisor, discussed in depth, and narrowed down, they’ll help the individual further explore top choices. They’ll set up phone calls and tours to learn more, and often come along for a tour or meeting to help guide the process.
Follow through: A senior living advisor’s job isn’t done until the individual has received all the information they need to feel informed and empowered about their options and they know exactly how to proceed. The advisor will stand by them, ideally working with them until they’ve made a move and are happily settled into their next place.
What DON’T they do?
Rush: Senior living advisors do not rush through the process; personalized service means they go at their client’s pace. If an individual is a long ways out from a move and is just starting to gather information, the advisor can help at this stage. If there’s an urgent situation needing care as soon as possible, the advisor will match that urgency with the most expedited service they can provide to meet that need.
Sell: After an advisor knows the story and specific needs of an individual they’re working with, while they may specifically recommend a community or two based on those needs, they will not be a “salesperson” promoting a specific community. They remain neutral and advocate for what’s in the best interest of the individual. Once a community is selected, that organization’s sales team handles the “sale” of the apartment or room.
Get paid by the client: A senior living advisor does not get paid by the individual and their family; they’re paid by the senior community after they guide someone to move in. Remember that, since not all senior communities choose to participate in the network of any or all senior advisor companies, the advisor may be less familiar with them, and those communities may therefore be recommended less often. Be sure you do some basic research to at least know what options exist, even if not brought up by the advisor.
Do I need one?
Does one need to work with a senior living advisor to be able to find the right place? Definitely not. Can an individual make their way through the process without one? Absolutely. But a built-in layer of support from a knowledgeable expert is never a bad thing.
Eliciting the support of a care advisor is often highly recommended. The idea of a non-biased, knowledgeable personal assistant at your side from beginning to end of an often unfamiliar process can be very comforting. Many individuals form a strong, trusting relationship with their advisor in the process. The world of senior living and elder care can be big and confusing and, oftentimes, the need for understanding it comes during a stressful time. A senior living advisor can take that overwhelming situation and turn it into a streamlined process, saving time, preserving energy, and easing overwhelm.