Caregiver's Home Companion
The Caregiver's  Home Companion

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Posted: September 28, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Community Connections That Work; Teaming Up for Success

In a perfect world, all senior service providers would be more cohesive. By that I mean we would work together more efficiently.

When seniors and their families need help, they often go through stages -- some faster than others. Some start out by living in independent retirement communities, then needing in-home care, and then perhaps transitioning to adult day care, assisted living, and finally nursing home care, or hospice. We know that these stages exist, so why not put our heads together and figure out ways to work together?

For instance, when a senior makes the decision to downsize, and considers independent living in a senior community, they start touring and looking at options and pricing. I know this has happened in senior housing -- the senior would love to move in to your fine community, but they think it’s too expensive. Right? This is a common objection about independent living communities. Operators hear it all the time. What if you could address the elephant standing in the room right away, and get past that objection?

The truth is that there are ways to show healthy older adults that independent living is affordable, but you might need some help. A financial advisor who caters to the senior market can show your potential resident how, based on their current financial situation, they can afford to live in your community AND in many cases, still leave an inheritance to their children. (If you want to see an example, I have one, send me an email!) The key is that you have to know WHO that financial advisor is, and they must be trustworthy.

Forming teams in the community is always a good idea. Having access to professionals who provide services and information that you are not able to provide is essential. Why?

Because you are perceived as the expert when you can solve the customer’s problem. Even if you have to call someone else to get an answer, you just saved them time and energy.

My suggestion for all senior service providers is this: Think outside of the box and build your network. Making the decision to implement a housing change, or in-home care services, or placing someone in a nursing home requires more than a tour. There are financial considerations, legal considerations (everyone should have a DPOA, etc), and the social service issues. Most families need all three of these services to make a truly informed decision.

Have trusted advisors on your side – at least one for financial considerations and one for legal needs.

Here’s another thought. Form your network of trusted advisors, and then hold educational seminars either at your place of business, or off-site, depending on space limitations. As a professional speaker, I have done MANY seminars inside independent retirement communities on various topics. At one point, I was able to listen in on the registration line, and hear what people were saying as they signed up to hear my talk. More than one senior from the surrounding community was afraid that they would be surrounded by people who were in wheelchairs, and couldn’t function independently (in an "independent retirement community" that looked like a resort hotel). Talk about OUTSIDE PERCEPTION!!! This outside perception needed to change fast!

The best thing that community ever did was form a network of professionals and hold educational seminars in their community. They served great food (snacks), and showed the entire town how wonderful and INDEPENDENT their community really was. Did they get more business? You bet.

Finally, I know what you are thinking . . . how do I find that trusted financial advisor, or estate planning attorney? For attorneys, there are bar associations and national organizations that can recommend someone in your local area ( For financial professionals, word of mouth is a good indicator of trustworthiness. Ask for references. There are also national organizations like CFP (Certified Financial Planners) and possibly CSA (Certified Senior Advisor); they can point you in the right direction, but do your homework: just because someone has a lot of initials behind their name, doesn’t mean they are a good fit for your network. Take your time, but start thinking about building that team, and how you can educate your community together.


Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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