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How To Find Senior Living Options! A Step By Step Guide

July 31, 2019

This month has been all about senior housing!!!
A couple of weeks ago, I described the different living options for older adults (link here!). I answered the question, “WHAT are the different housing options for older adults, anyway?!
Last week, I reviewed WHY it’s so important to know the different types of living options (read it here!).
In this blog and video, I give you a tutorial on HOW to go about finding living options.
I figured, it’s one thing to tell you that you need to know the living options, it’s quite another to help you figure out how to go about finding them!
As we get started, I want you to know that I am not affiliated with any of the resources I am about to list. My goal is to give you options and methods to help ease the process of caring for your aging parents. With this in mind,  I’ll share pros and cons for each method I list.
For this blog you will really want to watch the video! In the video, I give you step by step instructions on three methods for finding living options!
Watch it here!

How To Find Senior Living Options! A Step By Step Guide

1.  Contact Your Local Area Agency on Aging And Ask For A List of Senior Living Options (Free)

Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) are non-profit agencies, designated by each State to address the needs and concerns of older adults and their families.
Let’s break Area Agency on Aging down:
  • Area refers to a specific region or “area”.
  • Agency refers to a non-profit.
  • Aging refers to older adults.

In essence, these are your local non-profit agencies that support older adults.

“Area Agency on Aging” (AAA) is a generic term, meaning that the specific name of your local AAA will be different than the AAA in my area.

AAA’s are great! They tend to be the go to resource for older adults and their families.

AAA’s know the local resources available for older adults, like Meals-on-Wheels, in-home assistance, senior living options, legal support services, and so much more! AAA’s coordinate and offer services, and sometimes case managers that help older adults and their families navigate resources.

You can find your local AAA by going to this website and plugging in your zip code. You’ll be linked to a list of the eldercare and support resources near you.
Or, you can call this toll free number: 1-800-677-1116  and ask for assistance.
This website/phone number is super trustworthy! It’s a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.
Pros: Free or low fee
Cons: You have to do the leg work.

2.  Work With A Geriatric Care Manager/Aging Life Care Expert ($$$)

What is a Geriatric Care Manager or Aging Care Life Expert?

A geriatric care manager is typically a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in older adults and is familiar with common needs and concerns older adults and their families are facing. They are also familiar with the community resources available to support you and your aging parents. They are specially trained to help find resources to make life for you and your aging parent easier. They also help you plan for what may be in store in the future.

Some people call Geriatric Care Managers a sort of “professional relative” who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.

They can be especially helpful if you live far away from your aging parents!

The name Geriatric Care Manager is in the process of changing to Aging Life Care Expert.

What Do Geriatric Care Managers/ Aging Life Care Expert Do?

Geriatric care managers do a variety of things to help older adults and their families. As you set out to find a Geriatric Care Manager, you’ll want to ask questions to be clear about exactly what the Geriatric Care Manager you are interviewing does. Some of their services may include:

  • Providing education about aging and older adult needs
  • Discussion about difficult topics and complex issues
  • Making home visits and suggesting services
  • Assess in-home care needs to help your parents age in place safely
  • Provide emotional support
  • Making short- and long-term plans
  • Helping you or your parents to select care staff
  • Coordinating medical services
  • Evaluating senior housing options
  • Providing caregiver support and reassurance
How Much Does A Geriatric Care Managers/ Aging Life Care Expert Cost?
The cost of an initial evaluation varies and may be pretty expensive. But, depending on your family circumstances, it may just be worth it!
Geriatric care managers charge by the hour and each set their own rate. It’s important to note that most insurance plans DO NOT cover Geriatric Care Management/ Aging Life Care Experts (Call your insurance and ask anyway, just to be sure).
As of my most recent search on the National Institute of Health website (July 2019). Medicare does not pay for this service. Meaning that you will likely have to pay out of pocket.
How Do I Find A Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert?
1. Call your local Area Agency on Aging and ask for recommendations
Ask for a list of Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert. I explain how to do this in the first item above and in the video!
2. Call your local chapter of a specific “illness” agency and ask for recommendations
This can be especially helpful if you are already involved in support services through these agencies.
Here are a couple of examples of what I’m referring to:
If you’re involved in some of these agencies, call and ask a local counselor if they know of any Geriatric Care Managers. Or if you attend a support group, ask members of the group if they recommend any Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Experts.
3. Join a Facebook caregiving group & ask for recommendations.
Facebook has hundreds of closed caregiving groups. Search in Facebook to find a caregiving group in your region. Then, ask fellow group members for recommendations for a Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert.
If there is no Facebook Caregiving group in your region, you may just think about starting one yourself! I’m confident that you are not the only caregiver in the area needing support and resources!
4. Search on the Aging Life Care Association Website
As I mentioned earlier, Aging Life Care Expert is the new name for Geriatric Care Manager.  The Aging Life Care Association is the accrediting association for Geriatric Care Managers/ Aging Life Care Experts. On their website, they describe their ethics code, the certification process, and provide an overview of the field of Geriatric Care Managers/ Aging Life Care Experts.
They also have a search engine to help you find a Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert here!
The Aging Life Care Association recommends that you only work with a licensed Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert.
They also suggest that when you first speak with a Geriatric Care Manager/ Aging Life Care Expert, you ask the following questions:
  • What are the primary services provided by your agency/business?
  • How many Aging Life Care Professionals are in your agency/business?
  • Is there a fee for the initial consultation and, if so, how much?
  • What are your professional credentials?
  • Are you licensed in your profession?
  • How long have you been providing aging life care or care management services?
  • Are you available for emergencies?
  • Does your company also provide home care services?
  • Are you able to help me find senior housing options?
  • How will you communicate information with me?
  • What are your fees? (These should be provided to the consumer/responsible party in writing prior to services starting.)
  • Can you provide me with references?

You can learn more about working with Geriatric Care Managers/ Aging Life Care Experts here, or you can call the Aging Life Care Association directly at 1-520-881-8008.

Pros: Licensed providers that can help you with more than housing. Can be especially helpful if your aging parents need support but you live far away and there are no family members nearby to help!
Cons: Can be expensive. You’ll likely be paying out of pocket. You’ll need to spend time making sure that the care manager is licensed and a good fit for you and your parents and can address your parents’ specific needs

3. Contact a Senior Housing Locator program like “A Place for Mom” (Free)

An organization like “A Place For Mom” is considered a senior housing locator.
You can get in touch with them by calling or going to their website and plugging in your email. You’ll likely be called by a Senior Living Advisor.
My understanding is that Senior Living Advisors are non-licensed telephone helpers who help to gather information and advise you on different types of senior living or housing options. They are not Geriatric Care Managers.
When you call them, or email them, they’ll ask you questions like:
  • Describe the individual you are looking for housing for (Name, Age, and Relationship).
  • Where are you looking for senior Living or Care Options? (City, State)
  • Then they’ll ask you for your email
  • How do you plan to pay for the living or care expenses (Private funds, long-term care insurance, government assistance (medicaid, etc)?
  • What prompted this search and/or what are your pressing concern?


This is a large agency so you’ll want to do your homework and see what other consumers have to say about working with them. Here’s a link to the Better Business Bureau to get you started.


Pros: You give them information, they’ll give you a list of housing options. They also have some helpful tools, worksheets, and blog posts on their website. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Assisted Living Residence Checklist. Link here!
  • Cost Calculator: Assisted Living vs. Home Care Cost Comparison. Link here!

Cons: They will only recommend organizations that they are in network with, meaning that if there is a perfect residence up the street who does not contract with A Place for Mom, this residence will not show up on the list A Place for Mom gives you.  Another downside: you may receive many follow up phone calls from them.


I hope you find these methods for finding senior living communities helpful!

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