Usually some type of event happens that brings a family and a senior community together.  A broken hip, heart attack, dementia diagnosis.  Life is moving really fast, you need to get your loved one taken care of.  Home is no longer safe. 

Your first instinct will probably be to go to Google.  I would caution you to go to your local Area Agency on Aging instead.  You’ll get better, more-trusted information, not paid for by an advertiser.  Your private information will not be pushed out by a national search engine that offers its service for free, to all kinds of possibilities that may or may not pertain to your particular situation.  This will save you getting calls, emails, invitations to visit, in short, sensory overload.

The greater Austin area has about 200 senior communities, when you include Hays and Williamson counties that number is greater than 300.  They range from Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Residential Care Communities. Where do you begin?  How do you know which option the best place for your mom or dad? 

Here is an idea – work with a local locator.  Local locators, also called placement agencies, offer a very personal experience.  They sit down with you, discuss your loved one’s current and future needs.  They look at finances and resources.  They find out your desired geographic location.  Based on that information, they present options and personally take you to visit communities that fit your criteria.  Once you’ve made a selection, they help with the paperwork and the move if need be.  Local locators offer a resource far greater than someone sending you a list to check out.  Like the national search engine, this service is free to you too. 

Locators have intimate knowledge of communities.  They’ve visited the sites themselves, they know the staff, the staff’s ratio to resident, its average tenure and turnover.  In short, they know when a community is working as it should.  Locators also understand this can be a stressful time for families.  You may need to visit a community more than once, maybe more than several times.  That’s ok.  This is a big decision.  Working with a locator will help you get it right.

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