Three pitfalls to watch-out for when looking for an assisted living community

Large life transitions are complicated. Whether it’s sending your first child off to college, moving to a new state for a new job, or saving to buying a house – life milestones take commitment, research and preparation to reach. Often, at Arcadia Senior Living we find “adult children” facing an extreme amount of stress when they come to us. They are often in the middle of their careers, caring for their own high school or college aged children/adults, and suddenly, they need to take the lead for the matriarch or patriarch of the family and find the right care, in the right location, for the right price.

Often, at this point of stress, a placement agent or a  “best rated senior homes” website list comes into your life and it seems like they’re offering great/reputable information and solutions. It almost feels like a blessing, but we’ve learned from over 30 years in the industry that sometimes these “blessings” are far from solutions.

Pitfall #1 to watch out for: Placement Agents

While there are many high-quality and talented placement agents out there, there are also some whoat are not. Currently, there are no requirements for any form of clinical training or background to become a placement agent. This means they don’t have to understand the details regarding the care needs of your family member to make recommendations to communities or facilities that match your loved one’s care needs. Placement agents operate solely from contracts with communities and facilities and they receive a large percentage of your loved one’s first month fees as payment. It is commonplace and legal for placement agents to receive incentives and lavish “thank you gifts” as they place individuals in homes willing to pay up. We’ve even seen placement agents hide medical issues to give the appearance of a “good fit” because they hold no responsibility for the success of their placements. This is wrong. Placement agents often “walk into” hospital rooms of seniors who’ve had falls, or accidents seeking opportunities when families realize their loved one cannot live alone any longer and have not yet done exhaustive research and feel overwhelmed. Again, not all placement agents have negative intentions, we work with [list name] and we’ve had a successful rate of placements that have had a positive resident-to-community fit.

Pitfall #2 to watch out for: Slick Marketers

Other assisted living and memory care facilities tend to rely on slick marketing tactics designed to confuse families just to get a room filled. We don’t do this. Watch out for communities that showcase big promotions, like $750 off with a one-year rental agreement. This language leads you to believe it’s $750 per month for one year, not just $750 off for one-month. After you sign the agreement, you quickly learn the first month’s rent was just a demo and it didn’t represent the monthly bill for the entire year. The promo rate only applied to the first month, then the rate goes back to full price (fine print is usually there, buried), leaving the family in a tough situation. If it was a hurdle to convince your loved one to move in the first place, a second move does not grow and nurture trust in the family decisions during this difficult transition time.  

Pitfall #3 to watch out for: Website’s that Rank Senior Living Communities

Often, third party sites who specialize in ranking senior communities are prone to problems. It’s no secret that Yelp downright harasses their businesses with repeated calls every month to advertise and when a business does not, “somehow” positive reviews don’t populate, or your listing doesn’t show up in related searches. Other popular senior care sites give preferential treatment and have referral practices that don’t truly rank elder care options in an authentic way for visitors. These sites dominate the search engines because they are national companies with big marketing dollars, pushing out local companies from the top pages of a Google Search. Our recommendation, once you enter your search term into Google, for example “positive review assisted living community in Portland, Oregon with diabetes management” click over to the maps feature. It populates local businesses with local addresses because we have a verified address through google. The maps feature leaves the national ranking websites out of the mix due to be located “off the map” and in another state.

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Russell Mortensen
8 months ago

It’s great to know that there is no real training or requirements that allow someone to become a placement agent. My grandpa is getting older and we want to help him find an assisted living situation. He needs a lot of medical care, so it’s important that we find the right place.