A Freedom Village independent resident shares why she chose to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) from a 55 plus retirement community (Laguna Woods), Three months later she was blessed with a quick rehab recovery at Freedom Village Skilled Nursing Care after breaking her hip. Author Diane Masson shares a tip from her book, “Your Senior Housing Options.”
Last week we had 24 new residents at our new resident reception. Out of 24 new senior residents:
Two senior couples had met online.
One senior couple had met by each placing an ad in the local paper.
Wow! How exciting is that? Seniors are finding love after losing a spouse of 30 or 40 years.
One of these couples met through E-harmony. We had dinner together and they shared their exciting journey. They each filled out a lengthy questionnaire to find the perfect mate. Each was looking for someone who loved to travel. The gentleman rejected a potential date with a senior who only loved cruising, another lady only wanted to travel to Europe and a third potential senior woman was a retired stewardess.
This senior man was patiently waiting for a senior woman who wanted to travel by RV or motorhome around the country. After finding that potential senior woman online, they only corresponded through the dating website for next three months. Then they exchanged emails and phone numbers. They both proceeded cautiously.
Well their relationship bloomed into marriage and traveling the country by RV for four years. You can see a glow on each of their faces when they speak of the other.
They decided to settle at The Village in Hemet, CA. They wanted to create a plan for their future and not be a burden to their families in a health care crisis. They are trying every community activity together, such as exercising in the health club, enjoying live performances and swimming three days a week. Both of them love life and are enthusiastic about meeting all the other friendly residents at dinner.
Another senior couple who met at this same Continuing Care Retirement Community created an exciting stir at the monthly cocktail party. He asked her if she would be his life partner in front of everyone. She asked all the residents attending, “What should I say?” The residents all responded, “Say yes!” They are now a happy couple!
Do you have any stories of seniors age 70 plus who have found love again?
Your Senior Housing Options,”has a simplistic title, but what’s inside this new book can save a you months of research time. Hear Diane Masson’s interviewof how her mother and in-law’s faced the pivotal decision to plan ahead or wait until a crisis. Learn the pitfalls from transitioning from your home to senior housing. Understand what questions to ask, insider tips and dirty secrets revealed. The decision to stay home requires caregivers. Prevent elder abuse by determining if a home care agency is reputable, before they move into your home. You are just not looking for today’s needs, but for your future care. Discover key differences between rental facilities vs Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Do you have enough financial resources if you need to be in a higher level of care for an extended period of time? For weekly tips join at: Www.Tips2Seniors.com
Professionals have told me that a trauma could have caused Amy’s dementia (my favorite mother-in-law) to escalate rapidly. Is this true? Can all the dementia professionals and family members weigh in with their experiences?
My mother-in-law’s dementia was progressing slowly like my mom’s vascular dementia. There are four stages of memory loss and Amy was in stage 2, before the trauma. She repeated herself a lot, needed cueing for personal hygiene, medication management and had little desire to leave the home. Amy talked about not being able to remember stuff, but she could still read the paper, dress, bathe, toilet and feed herself.
Then Bill, my favorite father-in-law and Amy’s 24-7 caretaker, had a heart attack and went to the hospital. Amy could not understand where her rock and husband of 65 years had gone. She ended up having a psychotic break and eloping (The police had to find her and bring her back home.). A whole series of dramas happened and she hit a nurse. Then she too was hospitalized and put on psychotropic medications. Amy was in the hospital for three weeks in the psych ward.
By the time she got out of the hospital, the Amy I had seen months earlier was gone. The first time my husband and I saw her after the hospitalization (we live three states away) was so sad. The vivacious and sarcastic Amy was gone. It was like seeing a shell of her former self. Her lip trembled, her arm shook and she was so sleepy from the Haldol drugs. We immediately got the psychotropic medication reduced by half. It took us another three months to get her completely off the Haldol because we are not Amy’s Power of Attorney.
Amy was suddenly in stage 4 dementia. She needs help with absolutely everything and is not able to communicate her thoughts or needs. Hospice has been discussed in care plan meetings.
Has anyone else seen such a rapid decline with a family member or resident with dementia? Was it losing her husband, the psychotropic medications or both that caused Amy’s rapid deterioration? I believe that if my in-laws had planned ahead and moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that staff and residents would have supported Amy when her husband was first hospitalized. The CCRC would have rallied around her, helped her transition to the care level she needed and her world wouldn’t have changed so dramatically (she would have been dining daily with resident friends instead of being isolated in her own home).
What do you think?
“Your Senior Housing Options,” has a simplistic title, but what’s inside this new book can save a you months of research time. Hear Diane Masson’s interview of how her mother and in-law’s faced the pivotal decision to plan ahead or wait until a crisis. Learn the pitfalls from transitioning from your home to senior housing. Understand what questions to ask, insider tips and dirty secrets revealed. The decision to stay home requires caregivers. Prevent elder abuse by determining if a home care agency is reputable, before they move into your home. You are just not looking for today’s needs, but for your future care. Discover key differences between rental facilities vs Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Do you have enough financial resources if you need to be in a higher level of care for an extended period of time? For weekly tips join at: Www.Tips2Seniors.com
My mother’s blood sugar spiked to 400 on Monday and 520 on Tuesday. She was fighting a UTI and ecoli. At 92, her body tried to fight it off. The doctor said the antibiotics would either work in two days or she would go down hill fast. It was the later.
The care ambassadors and nurses at Freedom Village were amazing. I lost count after twenty-three staff came in to say good-bye and provide loving care. One care ambassador said, “I’ve known your mom for two years and she was my family.” Another said, “Everyday she would greet me in the hall and compliment what I was wearing that day.” My favorite was someone reminding me of her love of cats and how she usually had one with her or would respond to the mechanical one that meowed, purred and moved. Her face would light up with joy.
My mom lived in a higher level of care for nine years. Seven years in assisted living and almost two years in skilled nursing in Lake Forest, CA. Six years ago, a doctor made a comment that her life was not worth living because she had dementia and couldn’t remember anything. I replied, “How many of your patients said thank you and complimented you today?” The doctor sheepishly said, “Only your mom.” I said, “Then she still is fulfilling her purpose isn’t she?” The doctor backed off and gave the best care until my mom left that Seattle hospital.
Through nine years of advocacy for my mom, I have done the best I was able, making decisions with the knowledge that I have. I am not a nurse and based my advocacy on her wishes and trying to keep her comfortable.
Extraordinary Versus Comfort Care
Hospice began on Tuesday and they were a Godsend. My husband was in Seattle saying goodbye to his dad on hospice when everything happened. A nurse, a social worker and a chaplain came from hospice to support my mom and me. I learned the differences between extraordinary care and comfort care at the end. The IV’s, antibiotics and unnecessary medicine disappeared. The morphine and adavan began.
Final Burst of Energy
After the chaplain said some beautiful words, my mom had what they call a “burst of energy.” I was holding her hand when she opened her eyes half way and said, “I love you,” seven times and “thank you” twice. Then she closed her eyes and the energy was gone. I will treasure that memory.
After she choked while attempting to eat, I said no more food. A caregiver patiently helped her drink some juice even though it took 15 minutes. That was the last time I saw her drink because she could not swallow again.
The turns every two hours caused her to cry out. The repositioning was to prevent bedsores. I called hospice when the gentle turns seemed to hurt her more and they said to reduce the turns to every three hours and give the morphine 20 minutes before. The nurses and care ambassadors were outstanding. This little tip made the gentle turns easier for her.
The last day, she started to moan with every exhale. I called hospice again. The gurgling in the throat had started and it was time to start the medication that helped with that. The director of nursing arrived before hospice and we started the PRN of morphine and adavan that had been preapproved by her wonderful doctor. Hospice increased the frequency of the medications to once an hour and said she was not to be turned again. Alleluia.
The director of nursing was there every hour to administer the comfort medications. I cannot say enough about the staff of Freedom Village Health Care Center and how they supported and loved my mom and I, to the end.
My husband came back from Seattle and the room filled with music. When the chaplain arrived they sang together and it felt like a send off party. Her doctor entered about this time, gave me a hug and said, “She is going out in style. I am so happy that she is comfortable.” A priest came to give her last rites. I said and prayed everything I wanted to with my mom and have zero regrets.
After nine hours, my husband and I decided to take a dinner break. The director of nursing said she would not leave my mother until we returned. Another change happened right before we got back.
The chaplain and hospice were called. The moan on each exhale came back and I requested more morphine for her. Her doctor gave permission. Chris and I sang a couple of songs to her. The chaplain arrived. I requested scripture and the chaplain was reading from the Gospel of John when she passed. God’s presence was in the room. She was comfortable and at peace.
Today is Sunday and I would normally go and visit with my mom. I wrote this blog to help me with my own grief today.
It seems ironic now, that my new book is dedicated to my mom. Writing this blog has been therapy for me over the last three years. After sharing numerous stories about my mom, several senior living people said you should write a book to help other seniors and their families. So I did and “Your Senior Housing Options” was published recently.
I love you mother and hope your stories in the book can help others learn their options and plan ahead. So many seniors wait until a crisis and lose their ability to choose like my in-laws did. The greatest gift my mom ever gave me was to plan ahead and move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Over 16 years, my mom had good transitions through three levels of care.
MANY senior living sales professionals selling continuing care and retirement communities make three common mistakes:
Believing only older need driven seniors will move into an independent retirement setting.
Only focusing on seniors who want to move now.
Not doing enough “discovery” to tailor a tour to a senior’s lifestyle.
After the financial world turned upside in 2008 and real estate took a dive, younger seniors remained in their own homes. Now, younger seniors are moving into retirement communities again. Senior living communities must have amenities and lifestyle choices that attract younger seniors. Does yours?? As a sales person, you must believe that younger seniors will move in too! I have acutally heard a senior living sales person say, “They are only 83 years old and not ready yet.”
Only 20% of seniors will walk in and say, “I am ready to move in now.” The order taker marketers love this type of prospect. Well guess what? The majority of seniors need handholding and relationship building over a period of time. They need to come into your senior living community four to six times to visualize themselves living the lifestyle.
Discovering the passions, pursuits and interests of a senior seems so obvious to the “A” player senior living sales professional. This allows the sales person to tailor the “Wow Tour” to each senior. It may mean having the senior meet other residents who share their common interests. It could involve meeting and touring each adult child, so they can support their parents moving into your community.
Senior living sales takes more time and effort than it did six years ago. Why do so many senior living sales people simply give a tour? What have you witnessed or experienced?
Please share your strategies, successes, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.
Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating. The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum. Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy. Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets. She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states. Currently, Masson is setting move-in records as the regional marketing director of two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.
The prospect may say, “I want to think about it.” “I am one or two years away.” “I am not ready yet.” “I am not interested in a pushy salesperson.” Will you still call them back promptly the next day? If not, why not??
The senior living prospect walked in your door for a reason. They need your services or are considering your services. They should automatically be classified as warm if they walked into your senior living community. They may be eating cereal for dinner or sleeping in a recliner chair because the alternatives are too much effort. This is a viable lead that deserves your time and attention, even if they say, “I am not ready yet.”
I find it appalling that some senior living sales people will only give the time of day to a senior that can move in now. Ultimately, they are neglecting potential sales. In my experience, only 25% of the seniors say, “I am ready now.” “My home is on the market.” “My kids say I have to move immediately.” “My doctor recommends that I move to assisted living right away.”
So this means that the other 75% of potential seniors are too scared to express their needs. They say a quick statement in the beginning to protect themselves from being SOLD by you. They have lived in their home for 40 or 50 years. They don’t WANT to move. They are just beginning to UNDERSTAND that a move would be beneficial to their health and well-being.
Educate this scared senior and show how your Retirement Community, Assisted Living or Continuing Care Retirement Community is the best choice for them. Then watch your occupancy rise. The end result will be providing solutions to improve the quality of life for a multitude of seniors.
Do you call EVERY tour back the next day? If not, why not??
Your tips could help others improve on a national basis, so please share by commenting on this blog. If this weekly blog can help your sales and occupancy – why not invite your team to sign up today so no one misses a single tip to improve the occupancy?
Diane Twohy Masson writes this weekly blog to support and engage with other senior housing professionals. Her first book is Senior Housing Marketing – How To Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full. Many sales teams and organizations have used the 12 keys contained in this book for their weekly book review. Diane is working on her second book to help seniors select their senior housing options.