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Aging Wisely September 2016 - Aging Wisely

Five Ways a Care Manager Helps You Find the Best Nursing Home or ALF


nursing home choices with care manager

Making sure you choose the best nursing home or assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting task. It is not as simple as choosing a restaurant…asking your friends for their recommendations or looking at reviews online won’t give you the full picture and often won’t result in any options to fit your needs. It is already a stressful time and the paperwork, terminology and process can make it more so. Here are the top five ways an Aging Life Care Manager can help you find the best nursing home or assisted living (and make the best transition):

1. An Aging Life Care Manager will help you determine WHAT it is you even need (also known as your “level of care“).

Does Mom need a retirement community (what does “independent living” really mean?), an assisted living (and what type/level) or a nursing facility? Does she need a special memory care unit or can a standard assisted living handle her needs as a person with Alzheimer’s? Many of her friends may have moved to XYZ place but what it they don’t offer the care Mom needs? What happens when she needs more help? One of the worst mistakes is moving somewhere that can’t really accommodate your needs and having to quickly make another move (and yes, it does happen, even though the facility may “evaluate” you for admission).

2. We know the “inside scoop” on facilities (and programs to help and more).

We do much more than just help people find nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Our expertise is care management and patient advocacy, so we are in and out of facilities all the time working with our clients and the staff. Also, because of our expertise we offer comprehensive advice. We can help you understand the costs and how Medicare, Medicare, VA benefits and other programs can help. We can offer different alternatives and scenarios and even help when your family is in conflict over whether the move is the right choice. This is where an aging life care manager presents a much better value than a “placement service” (even if they’re “free” to you because they’re paid referral fees from facilities, your costs may be greater in the long run).

3. We focus on what’s important to you.

There is no ONE best nursing home or assisted living. Florida Healthfinder shows approximately 200 active licenses for assisted living facilities in Pinellas County and about 70 nursing homes. We have seen families come to town to visit armed with this huge list. You will exhaust yourself visiting all of them and many can be eliminated quickly based on your needs and preferences.

We help you narrow down (or expand) the options, taking into account the things that might be most important in your situation. For example, there may be a nursing home with a slightly better reputation that is an extra 30-minute drive for a client’s elderly spouse. He would visit every day, but a long drive may make this difficult. Having a regular visitor/advocate would likely make this the better choice for all involved. There are so many factors like this, such as specialized programs, activities, which doctors visit, and which hospitals are nearby. We can help you understand these factors and analyze their importance.

4. We organize the search and transition process.

We simplify things for you and anticipate what you will need (and key mistakes to avoid). For example, we advise people on timing the move and the various tasks that will need to be done for the move. We take you/your family on visits so that we can discuss your thoughts in real time and make sure you get your questions answered. We have resources for just about everything you need for moving, from estate sales and appraisers to real estate agents and movers.

5. A care manager’s service doesn’t end with “placement”.

Finding the right place is only half the battle. We can help your family on the days leading up to and the day of the move, key times to make sure everything goes smoothly. Follow up visits smooth out the small bumps that inevitably happen at even the best facilities (and since we’ve done this many times before we know what to ask/plan for to avoid most problems). We can offer continued advocacy and oversight services, or simply be hired to be “on call” for you for emergencies.

To get help with nursing home or assisted living needs, plus an array of care management and patient advocacy services:

contact us

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Timing an Assisted Living Move


assisted living moving day

Do you think it might be time for your parents to move to assisted living? The decision and process can be quite daunting. Whatever stage you are at in the process, a consultation with a care manager can be invaluable in getting some personal guidance and organizing your approach. We have a lot of resources to get you started on understanding when it’s time for assisted living (or other care options) and selecting the right assisted living or senior care community.

The moving process itself is often overlooked and this can be vital to helping your loved one make a good transition. This is one reason we recommend families not wait until a crisis. In a crisis, you will be rushed and not have as many options. Additionally, your loved one may end up needing a higher level of care after an accident or illness which could have been prevented. This often results in a more difficult adjustment, as well as higher costs. If you are noticing concerns, it is time to address the situation and look at some options.

Another benefit to preparing ahead is that you can consider the best timing for the move. It is best to avoid times when you have big events going on or have difficulty getting away from work. Having sufficient time allows family members more time to visit facilities, spend time getting to know the staff, assist with the move, and sort through belongings in a less hurried manner. You may also want to avoid key dates such as the anniversary of a loved one’s death and birthdays. Look at your personal schedule and talk with family members about how best to coordinate the move.

There are also many services that can help with different practical aspects of the move, so you can focus on providing emotional support to your loved one. For example, we often help families with hiring estate sales/packing/moving services as well as coordinating details like address changes.

In addition to personal schedules, you should consider the holiday calendar. Avoid moving during major holidays. Moving is likely to be a stressful event for you and your loved one. The move to assisted living, while it will hopefully end up being a very positive decision, often feels like a major loss, especially for someone leaving a long-time home. The holidays can be stressful and filled with expectations. For those who have experienced loss, this can be an especially tough time of year. This is also the reason we advise that families don’t have the “big conversations” at holiday get-togethers (here’s what we recommend instead).

And, the reality is that the holidays are not the optimal time at an assisted living or nursing facility. Staffing levels tend to be lower as people take time off. Though facilities try to plan around this, we can tell you firsthand that no shows and “calling out” are common challenges in healthcare and senior care (I once spent Thanksgiving driving all around Atlanta to pick up staff who said were willing to come in but didn’t have transportation, when I worked in a nursing home.)

For similar reasons, moving on a Friday evening or weekend is not ideal. At an assisted living facility, the activity schedule will usually be light during the weekend and key staff will not be there to help. At nursing homes, activities such as physical and occupational therapy are often weekday-only (unfortunately, hospitals also wish to discharge patients before the weekend so it’s a common situation for rehabilitation patients to find themselves in).

We hope by sharing some of our “insider’s tips” we can help make the situation easier for you. We know you don’t always have complete control of timing, especially when the unexpected happens. If you’re feeling pressured to make a decision or unsure about options, give us a call anytime. No matter what the situation, we can offer suggestions that will improve the transition (read a client story about the difference this makes).

Contact us today to set up a consultation about assisted living and senior care options and help with coordinating a move. Now’s a great time to help your loved one make a transition before the holidays.

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Elder Advocacy Workshop


elder advocacy

Join Board Certified Elder Law Attorney Linda Chamberlain for this free workshop to learn insider’s tips on advocating for your loved one or client who is in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Linda offers over 20 years of experience in social work, elder law and care management working with clients with disabilities and elderly clients. She has helped many families in all aspects of elder advocacy, including a great deal of time working with clients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. She understands the inner workings of care facilities and can help you best navigate the rules, regulations, and processes, as well as understand various staff members’ and others’ roles in helping you and your loved one.

Elder Advocacy Workshop:

How to Be an Advocate for Your Loved One or Client in a Nursing Home

October 11, 2016

1:00-2:30 PM

EasyLiving Office, 1180 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 701, Clearwater


Call to reserve your seat TODAY. RSVP to 727-447-5845 or

Friends and clients are welcome. Questions are encouraged. Limited to the first 20 attendees. Download the October workshop flyer to print/share.





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