By Michael Moore Jr.
Staff Writer - Herald-Tribune
Posted Oct 7, 2019 at 6:16 AM
When it comes to choosing where we age, there can be a lot of information to sort through. Sometimes too much. But leaning on available resources, such as a senior care advisor, might be a good option if you are considering leaving your home.
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices brought on by entering your golden years, you’re not alone. Aging can be an intimidating process. This is especially true for those faced with the difficult decision that staying in your own home might not be the best option for much longer.
But does it have to be that way?
Mike Ward, CEO and president of Pines of Sarasota, said that “doing your homework” is one of the single most important things we can do to ensure that we age safely and age well. But you might not have to do all that homework on your own.
Enter someone like Heather Cartright. Cartright is a senior care advisor and owner of My Care Finders, a local placement service that helps families find communities that meet their specific needs and level of care.
“People have a lot of questions about what to do and where to go, but someone like Heather can go in and start that process for the family and look at the individual scenario while taking you through what the different options are,” said Brittany Jennings of Seniors Blue Book. And when it comes to aging in the right place, there are hundreds of options in our community alone. These include independent living and retirement communities, assisted living facilities and memory care units or even skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation care.
Having someone familiar with the industry in your corner, such as Cartright, can help. She, and those at similar placement services, sit down with families and do individual assessments where they go over things such as your medical history and care requirements, but also find out who you are, what you like to do and where you might fit in best.
She takes all that into consideration and more when selecting communities for you all to tour together. In fact, Cartright handles it all. She researches the different options, makes sure that the facility checks out and is free of allegations, and acts as a middleman between you and the community. That means she’s in communication with them so you don’t have to be until it’s time to make a decision. She books the tours directly and will even drive you herself.
It also doesn’t cost her clients anything. Placement agencies, such as My Care Finders and others, make money by referring new clients to facilities, which pay a placement fee for the referral. Cartright said that this doesn’t limit the options of communities they can look at, because the majority are willing to work with third parties, and in the rare cases that they won’t, she will still place them in the community that is the best fit for them, even if it means not getting paid. “I’m going to do the right thing for them, I’m going to find the right fit regardless,” said Cartright.
Important factors for those looking to transition from aging in place to a community of some sort include things such as location and financial considerations. But more than anything, getting started before you find yourself in a crisis situation is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family, according to Cartright.
“Just because you start talking about it or thinking about it doesn’t mean you have to move right away,” said Cartright. “If you’re still fairly independent but feel the need to thrive more socially, it might be a good time to start thinking about whether an independent living community might be for you. If you’re needing a little more help and don’t have anyone around you or you’re starting to feel scared, you might start planning or preparing for assisted living. You don’t want to end up at the hospital and have to make a decision there.”
This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging’s 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.
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