Remember when receipt of a change-of-address card was your first clue a client moved to senior community? Today’s Advisor is drawn into every significant life stage – and that includes where to live to address declining health and advancing age. How can you advise them as they sort through senior living alternatives?
There are many types of senior communities from independent to assisted living and skilled nursing care, as well as in-home care. If you’ve ever navigated a client through the various options, you may have noticed it is challenging. We spoke to a Maryland-based senior living consultant who combines her business background, passion for helping others, and problem solving mindset to work one-on-one with local seniors on this issue. She offered five tips for Advisors to help guide clients who need a little extra help late in life.
1. Assisted living and in-home care are viable alternatives to nursing homes in most cases. “Assisted living can do everything a nursing home can do except handle certain skilled nursing situations such as providing advanced wound care, ventilators, feeding tubes and I-V,” she said. With that said, seniors who wait too long to move may find their options have changed for the type of senior living that meets their current needs.
2. Long-term care policies are highly variable. Some are Cadillac plans that never run out, while others have limitations of every kind. Read the fine print so you and your clients understand their coverage before they need to use it. Most importantly, meet with a qualified long-term care insurance specialist to ensure you purchase a plan to meet your financial and personal needs.
3. Seniors will usually make their own decision to move – or to resist. Well-meaning adult children are usually the first ones to call a senior living consultant. Unless parents are on board, they often resist moving unless circumstances warrant, a decision that is in the eye of the beholder.
4. Socialization is underrated. When the senior isn’t eating, taking meds or housekeeping, children are justifiably concerned. In some cases, a move that addresses these lapses and also offers socialization can have a miraculous effect. My husband’s aunt was transformed by a move to the more sociable environment of assisted living, after several years of profound loneliness and nagging health issues.
5. When safety is at stake, adult children take over. Adult children must ask, “Is it safe to be here?” When a parent risks falling, cannot navigate the stairs, is not keeping up with the activities of daily living, that’s the signal to assume responsibility and make changes.
Senior living consultants can be found in every regional and locale. Some are affiliated with particular retirement communities, while independents are able to consider a broad range of considerations before placing a resident in a community. They conduct a needs assessment and approach the search with an open mind and a blackberry full of contacts. They would assess a patient’s ability to handle activities of daily living and fill in where they need help. Then a care team is assembled, as needed, including a daily money manager, case worker, social worker, in-home care provider, financial planner, elder lawyer and other experts to meet a client’s needs. Watch for the emergence of this special kind of caregiver to meet the needs of baby boomers in advancing stages of retirement.
A knowledgeable senior living consultant can be a good resource to advisors who are helping clients deal with health and lifestyle issues of advancing age. Consider partnering with local experts for a client lunch-and-learn to discuss the ABCs of senior housing for clients with aging parents. Helping your clients become more knowledgeable about this topic will surely be appreciated as more and more clients face a move to accommodate their needs in retirement or advanced retirement.