There are so many options and different levels of care in senior living, that it is easy to become overwhelmed when faced with making the best choice. Because all senior living is not the same, it is very important to find the right fit for you or your loved one. 

In our upcoming webinar, Senior Living LIVE! What to Look for When Choosing Senior Living, our featured guest Jasilika Davidson, owner of Assisted Living Locators, will explore how to build a checklist that serves your individual needs.

Click the video to watch the preview now, and don't forget to register for the full webinar by visiting ArborCompany.com/Choices.

 

Video Transcript 

- Hello, everyone, and welcome into "Senior Living Live." My name is Melissa. As always, we appreciate you watching. Now, we understand you're either watching us or you're listening to us via podcast. Either way, we are so happy you could join us here this afternoon. We are previewing one of our upcoming webinars, July 20th. It is an excellent topic. It is entitled "What to look for when choosing a senior living community?" Jasilika Davidson, the owner of Assisted Living Locators, will be our special guest, arming you with all the information that you need to know. And she joins us now to share some of her tidbits, a little bit of information, some of the great knowledge that she has to get you moving in the right direction. Jasilika, how are you today?

- I am doing great. So honored to be here and to be on the show. I mean I'm excited.

- Yeah, well, you look wonderful, and I know that you have a great background. We're gonna hear a little bit about that now. So tell us a little bit about your company and a little bit about yourself.

- Thank you so much. First of all, as you mentioned, I am Jasilika Davidson. I am the proud owner of Assisted Living Locators of West Columbus here in Columbus, Ohio. I've been doing this for about two years, but I feel like I was destined for this. It was my purpose, and I didn't realize it. A little bit of my background: I am a formal journalist. I was an on-camera traffic reporter and radio personality, but I'm also a veteran in the Army National Guard and a teacher. And I just think that I was at a point of my life, probably because my mommy was diagnosed with dementia,

- Mm-hmm.

- and I wanted to know more about senior care and how I could help her even from afar. She's in South Carolina, and I'm in Ohio. And I really feel like God placed this gift, this opportunity, into my lap at the right time, and it allowed me to use all my skills that I had from communications and from education and just married those into senior living. Now, as the owner of Assisted Living Locators, I have to say that it's a free service for families, and I think it's always neat for families to understand that it's absolutely no cost. I just help families on this journey of senior care because there's a lot of information out there. You don't know what's what. And so my job is just to educate, to love on, to support, and to help them along this journey.

- Excellent, and see, I knew I liked you. I always find out a little something when we ask that tidbit portion of the interview, a fellow TV Newser here, somebody who also worked in the business. I do wanna thank you for your service. But, yes, I think for most people, when it comes to our seniors and those who work with our seniors, for many it is truly a calling, and I'm so happy that you are able to find yours. So let's talk a little bit about the business. What are some of the top factors your clients take into consideration when trying to find the right senior living community for them?

- Well, that's a great question. And let me just start off by saying, typically, when families call me, they're overwhelmed. They don't know what to do and how to do it. And during the discovery process, that's what I call it, it's just an opportunity for me to hear their story. I do more listening than talking, believe it or not. I get to know them. And the things that we take into consideration, the first thing is the level of care that the senior will need, right? It's really important to understand the dynamics of that, whether or not they're gonna need memory care or if they need assistance with their ADLs. And for those of you who don't know what ADLs mean, it's activities of daily living, and that could mean bathing or medication management. It's a lot of different things, you know. Maybe they're not preparing their meals every day, and they need assistance with that. And so those are things that someone will come in and do, and they'll do some light cleaning, and they'll be companions, of course. Companionship is always important and, of course, helping them throughout the day, whatever that they need. So that's number one. And then the number two thing is location. I think location preference is really important because typically a senior and their family want, would love for their loved one to be as close in proximity to the caregiver, the primary caregiver, so they have easy access to them. And so my job is to understand what part of Columbus or South Carolina or Maryland because, you know, because we're a national franchise, I can help people anywhere throughout the United States, so that's really important. And then the last thing, and some people would probably say this is the most important thing: the budget, right? So, financially, you need to know what you can afford because senior living can be really expensive. Sometimes people don't prepare forward. And it's really important to have the conversation of budget: how much can you afford? And if you can't, let's see if there are some family members that can help you. Do you qualify for VA Aid and Attendance for those who've served? All those things are really important. So really diving deep and understanding what the need is.

- Yeah, and speaking of that VA Aid and Attendance, we've had multiple webinars with Emily Schwartz and talking about how to fund senior living, and it can be difficult for many people, so I appreciate the fact that you help our seniors with this, and they don't get charged, right?

- Right. Yeah, no. And, honestly, I've become just like their family. I mean some of my families that I, a lot of my families to be honest, we are still texting, we are still connected. I wanted to be just like that because when you are sharing your loved one, your mom, your dad, your auntie, your grandmother, whomever it is, it's important that you don't just trust anyone with it, with them, that is. And so I take this very personal. I mean I am committed, and I am with my family even after placement.

- We love that.

- Mm-hmm.

- And we're gonna get a little later in our interview to hear maybe one or two of those stories from you. I look forward to that.

- Absolutely.

- But, first, let's talk about, there are so many different senior living communities across the country.

- Mm-hmm.

- Obviously, some states have more than others, but so many options right now. So tell me what goes into that process to help bridge the gap of what people are hoping they can get out of senior living and then you kind of helping to make that happen.

- Yeah, now that's also an excellent question. Let's just be honest. I think that sometimes when you're coming, I think it's sticker shock. It's kind of like when you're searching for home and you know that, you know, this is what I've been approved for, this is the amount I can afford, but what really can I get? Let me see if I can kinda wiggle or negotiate. What can I do to get what I want? Well, we have a whole conversation. And, again, I'm trying to learn their story, understand their culture, I think culture is important when matching a senior to a community, also the budget. I like to get to know my communities on a personal level. So I'm there, I'm visiting, I'm doing, I'm partnering with them for events in the community so that I can understand what value that particular community offers to families. And when I do that, I think it's a really good thing for families because I can be transparent. My job is not to work against the communities. My job is to work with them and to highlight the best parts of that community, right? But also to do my research and understand what they are, what they offer, and also understand what values or what's really important to those families. So after doing that and getting the information, you know, you have to have conversations. I believe in having heart-to-heart conversations, speaking in love, being as gentle as I can, going as fast as we need to but as slow as we need to as well because I know that sometimes it takes time to make a decision like this. And I want them to make sure that this is the best decision for them at the right time. Oftentimes, they're not ready right then, and so they end up calling me later on, right? Because then it becomes really, really urgent.

- Yeah, we always say don't wait till it's too late because then you're making a decision based on immediate need

- Mm-hmm.

- and not maybe more of your wants, and that's certainly not something that I think any of us want. We wanna be able to make those decisions ahead of time, know exactly what we're getting, and be happy with the end result.

- Absolutely.

- So you hit the nail on the head there in talking about sort of the different needs and kind of what different people are looking for.

- Mm-hmm.

- But we want this to be sort of all inclusive when our seniors are watching this. So, is there a certain age range that you kind of are working with more than others I guess is the way to ask that question, and are there senior living communities for everyone? I mean is there anyone out there that you are unable to help?

- Great question. First of all, there's no one out there that I can't help. I think it becomes really interesting and sometimes you have to think strategically, and so I'm a planner and I like to list the pros and cons, and present those to the families. There are different types of dementia that some communities, it's not that they can't handle it, but they wanna know and understand what the behaviors are, and so being very aware of those things, also understanding that their communities where there is an aid. So, typically, I'm working with people more in their 70s, 80s, versus 55. And there are communities that are more 55 and older, right? Communities, or 57. Let me just say not 55, 57 and older. But there are situations where communities will take someone who is young, you know. Maybe they have early-onset dementia, and, or they have Huntington's disease. I did have a family that I was working with, and he was a physician, and he had Huntington's disease, and the progression, I mean he needed the care, and so they were able to supply that care for him even though he was young. I don't even think he had hit 60. Maybe he was early 50s. And so those are things that we just have to be aware of. And I think that especially when you're in the city, since I represent Columbus, Ohio, it's really getting to know and learn, being a student of those properties and those communities so that you know where they're at. And when families come to you, you can educate them, you can inform them on the options that are available to them.

- That is awesome. You know, we sometimes get into a situation where we have people wondering, "Is this for me?", or "Is this somebody who is 80 or somebody who is 70?" And then we don't really get to the answer there. We just kind of assume that people will know, you know.

- Mm-hmm.

- For you as well, but I'm so glad you pointed that out, that it's not necessarily about age. It's more about need, so.

- It is.

- Gosh.

- It is about need. And we never know when we're going to need it, right? But we wanted to be there when we need it.

- Yeah, fantastic. Excellent. So we know that this can be an emotional time

- Mm-hmm.

- for the senior. It can be emotional time for their families.

- Mm-hmm.

- Can you give us, as we get into story time now, an example of someone who was against making that leap into senior living, but now they've done a complete 180.

- You know, I think that what happens is it's not typically the caregiver. It's typically the senior that's against it, if I can be quite honest. And when we are young, our parents parent us. That's just what their role is, you know. They have raised us and loved on us and directed us and hopes that we make good decisions. And then when they get older, and their lives are to change, maybe their body, maybe they've been diagnosed with some type of illness, whatever the situation is, the role is reversed, and so you then start to parent your parent, and that's not an easy situation. So there was a family that, I would like to start with this particular family. It actually happened this year, which was very interesting. They reached out to me, and mom had been diagnosed with dementia, and she was living on her own. One daughter was maybe five, seven minutes away, and then another daughter was maybe about 25 to 30 minutes away, but mom was living, and she was, you know, fairly independent, but they were concerned about whether or not she was eating meals regularly, and they knew that the forgetfulness, it seems like, it seemed as if it was progressing pretty rapidly. And they wanted to have the conversation about placing mom, but they knew mom was not going to be receptive to it. So, you know, of course, we talked about it. We had real, in-depth conversations, talking about what is the right time. We had set a goal of April. This was January when they first reached out to me. And then mom started to wonder. And that became a safety factor, right? Because mom is no longer safe. Now, they thought the solution would be, "Okay, this was only one time. It's okay, we'll put some cameras up, and she'll be safe," right? "We'll put the cameras." And because one sister is close enough, she can go if we see something like this happen, but then it happened again, right? Because, inevitably, it happens again. They had to make a decision pretty rapidly. And so we went and we had already started the process of touring, but then we just really started to accelerate the touring process and found a community that we thought would be a really good fit, but we wanted to get mom's buy-in. So they started having conversations with mom because I think it's really important to do that. And in the conversation, they said, "We love to take you to an apartment." They didn't call it a senior community because they knew mom, right? They knew how mom would resist the idea of going to an apartment. So I met with them because I actually toured my families, you know, every step of the way. And so I met them with mom at the community, and mom was still a little concerned. She, you know, it didn't look like a nursing home because when you think about senior living, I think that people have nursing homes in their mind. I mean they're totally, totally not what they used to be in the '70s, in the '60, I mean it's amazing. I mean they're like amazing. You can even, it's like resorts now if you ask me. But, so we go in, and she's still a little confused about what's happening, but she sees other people, and the mom naturally is a helper, so she started to say, "Maybe I could help this person," right? And they got her to, or convinced, and I also had the conversation that this would be an opportunity for her to socialize and have friends, and she could help someone. So mom moved in, and I am happy to say, and I try to say connected with my families, they also become my Facebook friends, sometimes that happens, and they have posted pictures of mom and how happy they made that decision. You get to see mom's smile on her face and how she's thriving in the environment that she's in, and that's really, really important.

- What a great story. And, you know, you are not only helping the individual, you know, mom.

- Mm-hmm.

- You're also helping the family

- Right.

- 'cause now they know she's safe, she's safe.

- Yeah, yes.

- And then what happens too, when you actually are able to give that responsibility of caregiving, although you're still part of it, right? To someone else, you can enjoy being daughter again or son again or niece again or granddaughter again because with the weight of being a caregiver and the worry of whether or not mom's safe in constantly being over there, it almost feels, you know, like you're overwhelmed. You just, you can't take it anymore. And I think oftentimes with caregivers, you put yourself last. And while that's important, but I also take on the belief that you have to put your mask on first. So you have to be able to care for yourself before you can care for mom or dad or uncle or auntie or whomever it is.

- Yeah, and I also like that you pointed out that many people have this preconceived notion of senior living

- Mm-hmm.

- that nursing homes from, as you said, the '60s and the '70s,

- Yeah.

- and they actually visit one for the first time in their lives, and they are just taken aback with how beautiful and resort-style a lot of these places are and just gorgeous, and it would be a place I think anybody would be happy and proud to call home. So--

- I agree. I mean oftentimes I go in and I'm like, "Oh my goodness, can I have this in my house, like heated garages?" Like that's something I didn't even know that that was something.

- I keep asking them to lower the age level so I can move in with my knapsack in.

- Oh, right, right, absolutely.

- Just out of fun.

- Yes.

- Yeah. Well, okay, as we wrap this up, a lot of great information already, but you will be available during your webinar after your presentation to answer questions

- Yes.

- for our audience, which is the bonus of these webinars.

- Mm-hmm.

- Who do you think will benefit the most from that opportunity?

- Well, I hope everyone will. And I say that because senior living is not something that people have conversations about. It's not sexy. It's not popular. We only talk about it when we need it. And I want to have a conversation before you need it. I want people to be educated about long-term care insurance. I want people to value saving and preparing for those golden years just like you prepare for college for your children or yourself, or you have long-term or short-term goals. I think that that's really important. I don't think that there's anyone out there that can't benefit on purpose. I have two children, Claire and Kenny, and this is a family business, so I want them to know the importance of taking care of our senior citizens and the importance of giving back and showing up and know what senior living is. And, hopefully, one day, when my husband and I are ready to go to senior living, they won't have this worry, they won't have the stress. They'll have a plan because we'll prepare, but we'll also have the education component that we've already started to share with them so that they have the knowledge and the know-how to make this happen.

- Yeah, excellent. You're so right. It's not a sexy topic. But, boy, we all age.

- Right.

- We're all going to experience it at some point, whether it's with family members or ourselves.

- Yeah.

- So, yup, might as well talk about it sooner rather than later. Jasilika, great information today. I mean you are just such a wealth of knowledge, a breath of fresh air, and I know that a lot of people are going to be able to get something to take away from your webinar, your presentation, July 20th, 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

- Hm.

- It is entitled "What to look for when choosing a senior living community?" We will see you then.

- Yehey!

- Now to catch this webinar, you can head on over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. We've got a vault of information there all about senior living. You can register for this webinar with Jasilika, and you can also check out our previous webinars all at www.seniorlivinglive.com. We hope to see you July 20th. See you soon.

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