Amy McConnell is the owner of Tea & Toast, a complimentary
retirement living search service based in Ottawa. Below, she explains how this
kind of service works and what to look for in an advisor.
Amy, what is a “retirement living advisor” or “senior
Put simply, it’s a
caring professional who helps senior citizens or aging adults find a retirement
residence that suits their needs — whatever those needs may be. The advisor
often counsels seniors’ family members as well, helping to make this life
transition as simple as possible for everyone involved.
The advisor really
takes their time to get to know the senior, their needs and concerns, as well
as those of their family. And then we take clients on tours of retirement
residences we think would meet those needs and concerns.
What are the advantages to using a senior living
advisor, as opposed to someone just doing their own research of retirement
A lot of it comes down to time. Normally it’s a family member, such as an adult
daughter, who does all the research and tours on behalf of their loved one. It
takes an average person approximately 80 hours before they make their decision —
that’s more than three full days! Meanwhile, these adult children often have
their own kids, careers and limited time of their own. When they’re under so
much pressure, they may not feel confident that they’ve done a thorough search
for their aging parent.
When you seek the help of a senior living advisor, you’re going to save
a ton of time. Why? Because an advisor does all the work for you! We can
pinpoint exactly what the client is looking for and identify retirement options
quickly and efficiently.
What are all the types of senior care living options
There are so many
different types and terms: retirement residences, homes or communities;
independent living; assisted living; physical care; nursing homes … the list
It can be confusing
to know which one is best for yourself or your loved one. For example, not
everyone realizes that some retirement homes also provide the same high-level
specialized care that nursing homes provide.
The good news is
that by asking a retirement living advisor for help, you don’t have to
understand every single definition in the book — and you don’t have to take on
the burden of knowing where to look, because the advisor will have all that
insight about residences at their fingertips.
What is the process for working with a senior living
It may vary depending
on who you work with. But generally, it begins with a “discovery process,”
where the advisor collects information from questionnaires and/or interviews to
determine the senior’s physical and other needs, budget and preferred location.
Once the advisor
has a solid understanding of the client’s unique situation, they will assess
which retirement living option is best. From there, they determine
availability, book tours and even accompany you on the tours of different homes.
Finally, when the client decides where they want to go, the advisor will
provide other resources for assisting with things like downsizing, selling your
home and moving.
If someone is considering enlisting the help of a
retirement living advisor, what should they look for?
Above all else,
trust your gut. This can be a challenging life transition and extremely
emotional time for many people — including seniors as well as their family
members. Some seniors may have trouble trusting others in the decision-making
process, and some adult children feel a great deal of guilt. Moreover, if there
are multiple adult children, they may not all agree on the path to take. So
make sure you use an advisor who you believe genuinely cares, who can
significantly help remove that sense of feeling overwhelmed and even act as a
mediator between all parties if necessary.
sure the advisor has been to the homes they are recommending. There are some
retirement residence search services that operate more as call centres — and a
lot of the time, those advisors have never even been to the places they’re
referring you to, let alone lived in the residence city! So watch out for
advisors that seem more focused on hitting quotas than on providing
personalized recommendations and sincerely helping you.
What else should seniors, families and caregivers know
about when it comes to retirement residences?
There’s a really
neat thing that some retirement residences do — short-term stays — where they
allow a senior to stay at the home for a short length of time.
provide so many benefits to seniors. First, it’s a great opportunity to “try
out” a retirement home. A short-term stay is also great for seniors who need
specialized medical care after surgery, or if they’re having work done on their
home and need a safe place to live temporarily.
This option is also
fantastic for caregivers and family members. Short-term stays enable caregivers
to go on vacation without worrying that their loved one will be left to fend
for themselves. And short-term stays are also great for giving caregivers some
much-needed time off, as caregiving can be both emotionally and physically
short-term stays are fantastic … and many retirement residences offer them as