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Palace Gardens Offers Helpful Tips to Choosing Assisted Living

For many families the decision to select the right assisted living community for their loved one seems overwhelming especially when there are so many options offering similar services.

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“Helping families and being their resource is what we are here for,” said Elizabeth Martinez, director of sales and marketing at The Palace Gardens Homestead. “This has been the business of The Palace Group for nearly 40 years.”

Here are some tips our founder and owner, Helen Shaham recommends:

• Speak to others who already have gone through what you’re beginning to do. This might include friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. Instead of asking what community they selected for their loved one, inquire about the process they used to make their decision. What factors did they consider? Location, overall look-and-feel, availability of advanced levels of care, affordability, credentials, types of programs offered, and the “vibe” from management and staff are all important considerations. Ask if their loved one has been happy in her new home? Are they receiving the care they expected? When there have been concerns or questions, how were those handled by management and staff of the community? Anything you can learn about residents’ actual day-to-day experiences is extremely important.

• There are other resources you should explore such as clergy members and doctors or their staff. These individuals are likely very familiar with your dilemma and willing to share insights and advice they have gleaned along the way or heard from others.

• Consider hiring a geriatric care manager. Because these are professionals, you pay for their time. The value you receive is their expertise in finding the best fit for your loved one. These individuals will help you assess what’s important to the potential resident (Do they enjoy dressing for dinner or are they more comfortable in an informal atmosphere? Do they want stimulating lectures or are they happy with more limited activities? What type of care do they need now and what can you anticipate they will need in the future?). With that information in hand, a geriatric care manager can sift through databases about each community in your area. Be sure they are not receiving referral fees for referring one community over another. You want to be assured a recommendation is based on what’s best for your loved one. In addition to shortening your search, the geriatric care manager might be able to pave the way for your negotiations with the community. This is a much better resource than online referral companies who may not have your best interests at heart. They often ask a lot of personal questions (many more than a community would ask so early in the process) in order to qualify you for their services. You might be uncomfortable answering all these questions and they really aren’t necessary.

The referral company then sells your contact information to communities with whom they have relationships. These might or might not include the communities that truly are the best fit. And once you have been identified as a “sales lead,” the follow-up calls can be relentless. You want to make your decision based on the factors important to you and your loved one—not based on who has the most tenacious sales process. Finally, while the referral service appears to be at no charge, you can be sure that the communities are paying for these referrals. They then factor the referral costs into the lease that you will be asked to sign. 

• Narrow down your choices and then plan a visit. There really is no substitute for touring a community because you and your loved one need to see how the community feels. Salespeople are helpful, but it’s also of value to meet the executive director and the staff who provide the daily care. You may want to make the first visit without your loved one.

• Take advantage of informational programs which at Palace communities are called Lunch & Learns. A diverse group of speakers come to a community each month and speak on informative topics. A delicious lunch is served. You have a chance to be entertained, educated and sample the community’s cuisine.

• When it’s time to make the decision, many people find it helpful to compile the information into a chart. In the first column, list each factor you want to consider (the things like location, overall look-and-feel, availability of advanced levels of care, affordability, credentials, etc., that I mentioned before). In the next columns, list each community that is a final contender. Then fill in the chart with simple ratings to show how each community fares on each factor. Don’t make this overly complicated; your ratings can be just “high,” “medium,” or “low,” or a scale of 1-5. It’s not an exact science; your decision will come from both your heart and your head. But when you’ve done solid research and gathered your thoughts, you’ll be in a good position to make the very best decision that you can.

I want to assure you we are here for you as a resource. Please call or stop by. To learn more about The Palace Gardens Homestead and come for a tour, please call Elizabeth Martinez at 305.247.0446. ###