What should you look for when researching and touring senior living communities? Meredith O’Connor, Regional VP of Sales and Marketing with The Arbor Company, is with us to help you create a checklist of things to ask and consider as you make the big decision to move to senior living.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone and welcome Living Live, my name is Melissa, as always I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we have been checking in with Arbor Communities, their staff, their residents, to help you get to know some of the people who are behind the scenes when it comes to senior living communities, specifically with Arbor. And today I wanna introduce you to somebody very special, her name is Meredith O'Connor, she is the regional vice president of sales and marketing with the Arbor Company. Meredith, how are you doing today?

- Hi, I'm great, thank you so much for having me.

- Yeah, well, you look fabulous, I know you've been with the Arbor Company for several years. Tell us a little bit about your background and what you do day to day with the Arbor Company.

- Sure, so I started my career in property management, and here in Atlanta, I worked for a company who had a lot of luxury apartment living, complexes around town. And I loved that, I just wanted something a little bit more. I loved working with my residents face to face, but they came and go, I really wasn't important in their day-to-day life. So when I saw a position available at Ann Arbor Community, I was excited. I had always been really close to my grandparents and I just thought the senior living world would be a great fit for me, and it was. I was working in that community for five years, working with families on the transition, into the senior living, whether it was our community or another community. And now I work with the care counselors at different communities here in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, just to ensure we are providing the best in education, in support and customer service to the families that are interested in learning about senior living. or looking to make a move into senior living soon, or are currently in that transition process into our community.

- And this is why we thought you would be the perfect person. Now that we've heard your background to discuss the decision-making process that goes into making that leap into senior living. We know that it is a very big decision for many people, maybe the biggest decision they've ever made in their lives. And we just want to give people information that they can use to arm themselves with to sort of create a checklist of what they need to do, things they should be looking out for when choosing a senior living community. That is our topic today, you are the perfect person for this. So now that we know a little bit about your background and our topic, everyone that I have spoken to has said that making the senior living move is overwhelming. So what is the first step that you tell people they should do to kind of help put them on the right track, right out of the gate?

- And it can feel overwhelming, I understand why they say that, it's a new thing if haven't done it before, why would you know anything about it? So my first advice is always education. Try to answer that question, what is senior living and what does it mean to you? There are so many different models out there for senior living, there's different financial models, you can buy in, you can rent, they're income-based communities. And then again, there are different care levels, 55 plus communities, independent living communities, assisted living and memory care. So just covering the basics of understanding what that means to you and what your needs are at that moment is definitely the first step.

- When you talk about the level of care obviously you need to know, do I need a little bit of extra help? When you've decided on that before you leave the house, when you're considering calling up communities, what are some of the things that people should be looking for on community websites and what should they be asking these communities over the phone?

- Sure, well, we have definitely learned that people are doing a lot of their decision-making process at their home on their computer, especially since the pandemic. And the great thing about it is a lot of companies have now updated their websites with great information. The Arbor Company for example, has tons of videos, such as this one, different blogs, frequently asked questions, photos of the communities of course, and then even a live chat option where you can live chat with somebody. So definitely going on the websites, but in addition to that, looking on Google, Google reviews, Facebook, Facebook reviews, all of those things are great intel to gauge whether you think that community is gonna be a good fit for you. Although that is all great I will say that you are not going to be able to get the feel of a community until you physically walk through those doors. So after you kind of look around on the website, call the communities, connect with the sales counselor in the community and schedule a tour to come in, because that is the only way you're truly gonna have confidence in knowing that community could be the one for you.

- And I heard that from so many communities during the pandemic, because people could not do that, that was not an option at that time, and so it was really difficult because you're right, the feel of a community is everything. I mean, that is a make or break for a lot of people. How does the community feel when I walk in? So when somebody gets to that point, perhaps they've narrowed down their communities, which I think we do suggest that you do try to narrow them down to a few places that you'd like to go visit, so it's a little less overwhelming. Moving to the next step of actually showing up there, when they had that checklist, what should be on it when they take that tour?

- Whatever is important to you. So as we all know nobody is different and people's wants and needs are going to be different. So there is great checklists out there, and I do recommend figuring out the same things and asking the same questions at every community visit, so you have a really good way of comparing apples to apples and comparing them. But decide what is important to you before you go on tour, because you might be really great interested in the health and wellness options that are out of community where someone may not be, or someone may be interested in the dining programs where you may not care about food. So we want to learn what's important to you and so we can help you dig into that detail during our tour and our conversations, so you know when you move in you're getting your needs met.

- Perfect, so what are some questions you find that people maybe fail to ask during this entire process, but they wish that they had asked before they moved in and settled in?

- So this is going to sound really cheesy, but this is very honest, the number one question that I was always asked after my resident moved in is why didn't I do this sooner? And it's a beautiful thing to watch the whole process from start to finish, come in a little bit skeptical, not sure if they want to do that, and then make the decision and move in and find whatever need they needed and have those met. Whether that's a physical, where they get a little better or where it's social and they're just enjoying the social aspects of our community. It's like a breath of fresh air, and honestly, that's the number one question we get asked.

- Now, so far you're given some really good tips. If somebody wants to take these tips and run with it, or they'd like maybe additional information, where can you guide viewers for resources to help make the decision making process, choosing a senior living community a bit easier?

- Well, there's tons of resources on our website, of course, but locally, if you did narrow down your location and you're working with the communities there, the senior care counselors at each community have tons of resources for you. Them themselves are a great resource, is they've worked with so many people through this transition process, but they have financial resources, real estate resources, moving resources, everything that you could possibly think of that you would need to make this transition, those senior care counselors have at their community. And I do want to say, you don't have to be ready or even know when you're going to be ready, just to start those conversations with us. We work with people for years, so we want to be with you from start to finish, and we want to be there to answer your questions, and to educate you about the senior living world. So don't be scared to call us and ask us questions, or even come in and see our community when you don't even have a timeframe of even thinking about this next step, we wanna be with you from start to finish.

- I totally agree with that, and for these shows we cater to educate all people. So if you maybe don't choose Ann Arbor Community, that's okay, we're here to arm you with as much information as possible about the senior living process in general, what it is, what it's about, and we just hope that these tips can help you find what is right for you, whether that's Ann Arbor Community or not, some people may not even move into a community. They may just say, "Hey, I'll have this information in my back pocket, maybe for a later date." So great.

- Or for a friend. You may have a friend that needs it, so.

- Perfect, yeah, absolutely. Do you have any final thoughts on anything you'd like to share about your experiences with senior living, seniors in general, that that may help somebody who's watching out there?

- Just don't be scared to dive in and get your feet wet, and don't let it intimidate you. There are so many different ways that you can make this a much easier, smooth process.

- I love it. Meredith, we appreciate you so much taking the time to share your tips with us, some very experienced tips, digging into your wealth of knowledge in senior living, we thank you for the time.

- Thank you so much.

- Thank you. Well, if you have enjoyed this video with Meredith, you can swing on over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. There you can find our entire video vault of senior living videos, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always we appreciate you watching Senior living Live have a great day everybody.

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