Top Tips for using Placement Agencies.
In August 2015, we blogged about care managers and their role in assisting seniors and boomers as they navigate through the maze of downsizing options. Care managers, who also are referred to as case managers and are coordinators, are professionals who specialize in providing a number of services related to the downsizing process.
Care managers can be extremely helpful; however, their services are not free. Sometimes, Medicaid or Medicare will pay for a case manager’s services, but most often, they do not. It is more likely that the client will pay out of pocket for the services, which can range in cost. Some care managers charge a flat fee for their services, while others charge an hourly rate.
Another option for seniors and boomers who need assistance is a placement agency.
Knowing When to Downsize
Before we discuss the details of what a placement agency is and how to select a reputable one to work with, a quick refresher on knowing when to downsize is in order.
Sometimes seniors and boomers will come to the conclusion that it is time to downsize on their own; other times, it may take the gentle nudging of an adult child or other caregiver to convince them it is time. Either way, the signs associated with recognizing when it is time to take the plunge are the same.
If retirement is on the horizon, and you have plans to travel or take up a new hobby, now might be the time to consider downsizing. Taking care of a large home can be overwhelming when you include the chores associated with interior and exterior maintenance. Not only does it eat up a lot of time, but it also has a way of burning money that could be better spent in retirement.
Living in a four-bedroom home may have made sense when you were raising a family, but as we age, those extra rooms become a burden. Not only do they have to be cleaned and maintained, but they also can become an easy way to justify hoarding items we don’t really need if there is a convenient place to store them.
Lastly, certain health conditions can make it unsafe to live in a large home. Seniors who live alone also might find it more beneficial to live in a senior community, where socialization and other amenities are easily obtainable.
The Role of a Placement Agency
Placement agencies, also sometimes referred to as elder care referral services, can assist seniors and boomers in the decision-making process of where to spend their retirement years following a downsizing. Whether it is in an apartment complex that caters to seniors, a retirement community, assisted living or a continuing care community, placement agencies find the right solution to fit their clients’ needs.
Most placement agencies work with a nationwide network of specialized senior housing facilities and are able to recommend a variety of reputable options for senior living post retirement. The first role of a placement agency is to help clients locate a place that fits their needs and offers as many supports as necessary. The second role is to find a solution for seniors that fits not only their needs, but their budget. Placement agencies are aware of which communities and senior living options accept private pay and which work with insurance such as Medicaid, which can help to narrow the selection for seniors for whom those things are important.
Many placement agencies offer their services free of charge to seniors, while others accept “finder’s fees” from senior housing communities and facilities. One such agency that provides free services is Eldercare Locator, a service of the U.S. Administration of Aging.
Tips for Selecting a Placement Agency
It is important to note that not all placement agencies are the same or provide the same level of services. There are a number of ways to help locate quality providers.
One of the best ways to find a reputable placement agency is to consult your local Area Agency on Aging. There are more than 600 agencies nationwide and their referral services are free because they are taxpayer funded.
Other signs of a great placement agency include:
- The agency sends representatives to meet with you in your home to personally discuss your needs for placement, including any budgetary or time constraints you may be experiencing.
- The agency has visited the facilities and communities which they recommend to clients and are able to provide detailed information about why the community or other senior housing option they are suggesting is an ideal fit for a client’s needs.
- The agency periodically checks back with former clients to make sure their expectations are being met by the housing option selected.
- The agency frequently checks with the state licensing agencies to ensure the facilities they are recommending do not have any violations or citations.
- The agency selects communities for its referral to clients that truly meet the clients’ needs and not just for options that pay finder’s fees for placement.
Want to learn more tips for finding a reputable placement agency? Consider attending an Upside of Downsizing conference. Our next conference is scheduled for Sept. 30 in Portland, OR.