Read about one family’s senior living journey and how Seniorly helped them along the way. See if Roxanne’s research tactics can help you on your journey.
This family interview took place on November 18, 2021. Quotes from it have been edited for clarity.
Many families have faced the challenge of helping elderly parents find a safe place to live, where their loved one will feel comfortable, at home, and supported as they get help with the tasks that make up daily life. Every family’s story is different, however, and we’re pleased to be able to share Roxanne’s family story with you. Her family’s search for a Florida senior living community for her mom might help you in your search.
Mom’s mobility issues and reluctance
Roxanne’s mother has mobility issues: she uses a walker and cannot drive. She’s also recently had some health troubles that included wounds on her legs, which are difficult for her to reach. This, combined with the recent loss of her husband of 33 years and pandemic restrictions, meant that she lived a very isolated life in New Jersey. Roxanne and her two brothers discussed what was next for their mother so that she could live her best life. “She just wasn't getting the kind of socialization that she needed...and I didn't want her to be in her apartment watching TV for the rest of her life. That's no way to live.” Assisted living seemed like the perfect solution, but they needed to find the right place for their budget, for her mother’s needs, and they needed to get Mom on board with the idea.
While Roxanne’s brothers live in New Jersey, Roxanne has homes in New York and Naples, FL, with plans to sell her place in NY and live in Florida full time. Knowing that New Jersey has some of the highest costs for assisted living in the country, Naples seemed like the perfect place, then, to look for assisted living for her mom. But her initial research turned up hefty price tags, “When we were first doing some of our research online we found these CCRCs with like $300,000, $500,000 buy-ins and you know, that just wasn't doable for our situation financially.”
Additionally, coming on the heels of her husband’s death in June, Mom wasn’t very open to the idea of assisted living, saying, “I don't think I need to be institutionalized.” Roxanne explained that “Assisted living isn’t nursing homes, a lot of them have a lot to offer. But I knew at that point, it wasn’t a good time to talk to her, with her partner passing and everything else to deal with.” Roxanne and her brothers discussed the best way to approach their mother later, when some of the initial emotional turmoil of losing her husband, their stepfather, had passed.
Thorough research combined with advice from an expert
“I started to do research and that's when I, just through Googling, found Seniorly and Bruce Rosenblatt, who I spoke to and he gave me probably half a dozen or so places to look at.” Bruce also explained that, as opposed to CCRCs, many assisted living facilities are more like rental communities that don’t require a big, upfront buy-in.
Roxanne decided to approach the conversation with her mother on her own, not wanting Mom to feel like her children were “ganging up on her.” As an experienced salesperson, Roxanne also decided to come to the table armed with some persuasive facts.
“I created a list of talking points, almost like I was gonna do a presentation. You know, all the reasons why we thought this was a good idea and telling her about some of the advantages of some of the places I was researching. The way I just positioned it was, ‘I want your approval, or blessing, to go and take a look at these places and tour them.’”
Having obtained Mom’s blessing, Roxanne “...sent her some information and some links to the places that I was looking at. Then when I went on a tour, I came home and organized my thoughts on the spreadsheet. And then I called my mother every day and was like, ‘Okay, this is what I found out today,” and was either like, ‘Yeah, this could work,’ or, ‘You know, I didn't really feel great about it.’”
Roxanne also went into community tours armed with her laptop and a robust list of questions to ask. “Bruce checked in and gave me some good food for thought along the way. We tried to do as much research on our own as we could because you want to form your own opinions, too.”
Roxanne even visited some locations more than once, at different times of the day, to get a feel for the energy of their staff and residents. She wanted a place that made it easy for her mother to move around with walker and join in activities and be social, as well as one that had an Extended Congregate Care license in Florida and, if possible, had experience working with Genworth, with whom Mom has a long term care insurance policy.
“We took all of that into account and we landed at Seascape, which was one of the ones that Bruce really recommended highly. I just felt like they were kind of our partners in trying to get my mother integrated. They have a great resident ambassador program where another resident is kind of assigned to you as a new resident to get you integrated into the community, which I felt was important because you just don't wanna drop somebody in and be, you know, the new kid at school and not understand what's what.”
How does Mom feel after moving into assisted living?
Roxanne’s mother is thriving in her new home. “She was getting her hair done today,” Roxanne says, “the first time that she was gonna use the hair salon. So she was kind of excited to see how that would work out. And she's playing bridge again, and meeting all sorts of people with really interesting stories. Some folks who survived World War II camps and some folks of Jewish descent who came over from Europe at that time and barely made it with their clothes on their back. My mother's a real history buff and just loves to hear people's stories. She's very friendly and outgoing, so she gets to know a lot of people, which is fun.”
In addition to her mother’s much more robust social life in her new assisted living community, Roxanne also has peace of mind that her medical needs are being attended to by a nurse every week. “That just, in my mind, reinforces that we did the right thing because you just can't do it all. But at that age, by yourself, when you've got limited mobility—even if she was fully mobile you just don't hear the same way, you just don't absorb it. The perspective might be a little bit off because you are getting older, you know? So there's no substitute for having a nurse take a look.”
Roxanne, her brothers, and her mother still have to work through the process of filing the long term care insurance claim, having learned a lot about ADLs and her policy’s coverage, but they all feel better for having Mom moved into a new home that suits her needs so well.
Grace Kay Matelich is a trained Gerontologist who earned her Master of Science degree in Gerontology from the University of Southern California, a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University and a Certificate in Nutrition Science from Stanford University. Grace developed interest in the longevity sciences through her own complex health journey, and is passionate about the science of aging, the mind-body connection, illness prevention, and lifestyle interventions for age-related illnesses.
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