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What is a Senior Living Advisor?

Discover how helpful a senior living advisor can be to you and your family. Seniorly explains how you can benefit from advisors' expertise.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Aug 25, 2021
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Making the move into a senior living community can be a complex process, whether you're seeking the right situation for yourself or a parent or other loved ones. Fortunately, you don't have to do it on your own. Senior living placement services are available to help you understand what your loved one needs and how to choose the right living environment for them. And the best part? These services are free.

What is a senior living advisor?

Senior living referral advisors, sometimes also called elder care referral agents or senior placement agents (we call them Seniorly Partner Advisors), can be a company (sometimes called a senior care referral agency) with several employees, or just one senior living expert. In either case, they have a wealth of valuable information about all the various senior housing options, care services, and types of senior living available to you and your loved ones in the local area in which you are searching.

Senior living referral advisors are passionate about helping you make the right decision in your search for senior care. They'll help you find and connect with local retirement communities that provide the type of care your loved one needs, they’ll answer all of your questions, and they'll work to find communities within your budget.

Think of them as local senior housing experts, almost like real estate agents, but with a more specific clientele — senior living communities. Part of their expertise is to ensure you are not overwhelmed in your search. To achieve this, they will personally set up tours of your desired communities, as well as take you on those tours and serve as your advocate, especially getting you answers to questions you might feel uncomfortable asking on a tour (i.e. How much is this going to cost? What do residents complain about? What are your occupancy and turnover rates?).

Some Seniorly Partner Advisors may even be able to help you negotiate your contract with a senior living community.

Here's something to pay attention to, for the sake of transparency: You may be asking, "How can senior living advisors provide their services for free?" The answer: Most Seniorly Partner Advisors and senior living placement services have relationships with specific senior living communities, and they get a referral fee if you move your loved one to a community they recommended to you.

If that concerns you, look for senior placement advisors who are members of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. You might also want to ask whether the advisor you're working with is a trained geriatric care manager, gerontologist, or social worker.

Should you use a senior living advisor?

You are the only one who can answer this question. We work with families who want that kind of personal support, and other families who have the time and resources to go to it on their own. There is one thing we have found helps ensure the best decision is made for each family: research!

If you have the luxury of time, don’t rush the process: research all of your options. Start with a referral advisor, asking for basic information about all of the different types of senior housing (from memory care to assisted living to independent living communities). See how the introductory conversation goes. Again, this is all free, so there’s no harm in having these early, educational talks.

However, if you don’t have time, need to decide quickly, but don’t know the options well, truthfully, referral advisors are your best bet since they are experienced with all of the local properties and know what most of your area’s communities offer. They may also have a good idea of what communities have rooms available and which might not be able to accommodate a fast placement.

Whether you live near your parents or elderly loved ones, or if you are far away, if you decide to work with a senior living referral advisor, they can be the perfect partner in your process. We’re not just saying that because we believe our Seniorly Partner Advisors are the best. We are saying this because we know how complex the process can be. Having an expert on call ensures the best experience for everyone.

This becomes especially true if your loved one is about to be discharged from the hospital and you need to quickly decide — a referral advisor can be invaluable in helping you sort through the many options for seniors. They are experienced in this high stress situation and understand the pressures you are under.

Your Seniorly Partner Advisor or senior care referral agency should be able to provide a comprehensive list of options, with information about each community that you might not be able to get from the internet or even from a visit to the communities. They can speed up your search and take you through the process of narrowing down options quickly. Best of all, we have found that their help can also save you money.

How to choose a senior living advisor?

At Seniorly, we have referral advisors ready to help you find the community that will be the best fit for you or your loved one. In addition, local gerontologists or hospital social workers can refer you to senior living referral advisors in your loved one's neighborhood. When you talk to a senior living referral agency, asking a few key questions can help you find someone you're comfortable working with. Consider these:

  • How familiar are you with the local neighborhood and its services for seniors? How long have you worked in this area?
  • Can you provide referrals to other services I might need (moving companies, accountants, or attorneys familiar with elder law)?
  • Are you a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors? What training do you have?
  • Are you paid by your referrals to the communities you recommend? Do you ever recommend communities that don't pay you?
  • How often do you update your information on these communities? Do you check for health violations regularly?

See how comfortable you feel with the advisor — and feel free to make a change if you're not getting the kind of responses you want. Take a look at our piece on How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community, too, to get more tips on how to make this important decision.

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