September is Healthy Aging Month, and in the spirit of healthy aging, why not consider how we search for the best eldercare facilities for ourselves and/or our loved ones?
Last week The New York Times published a thought-provoking article, “A Helping Hand, Paid On Commission.” In it, the author discussed a growing phenomenon: someone’s searching for reputable eldercare options for a loved one. They come across an eldercare referral service that promises to find the best place for your loved one. Yet there’s only certain places they’ll refer your family to–places that have all paid the referral company to include them in the pool of eldercare options that the referral companies pick from when they’re called by a family in need.
On the one hand, often these eldercare referral companies are free. They give you eldercare recommendations free of charge, and it is up to you whether or not you use their suggestions–you’re under no obligation to actually use any of the eldercare options they recommend. Additionally, simply being able to talk to one of specialists at an eldercare referral company might be comforting to you, as that person can provide a sympathetic ear when you need someone to listen. But you should also consider whether you would be willing to trust a company who’s only giving you recommendations from companies that pay them. What about the companies that aren’t paying the referral service? What if one of those eldercare options is the best choice for your loved one, but you aren’t made aware of its existence because that eldercare facility isn’t aligned with the referral service?
You could go it alone and do your own research on eldercare facilities, but you shouldn’t have to, especially when caring for your elderly loved one is already stressful enough for you. Luckily, you don’t have to be alone in this. Advocacy services are available to help you. The mission of an advocacy service is to be at your side, helping you when you need it most. Advocacy services will refer you to a company based on the quality of that company’s service and whether it fits your and your loved one’s needs. They can also offer help in other areas relating to eldercare, such as helping you figure out the right questions to ask when you call or visit an eldercare facility, and assisting you in setting up the appointment for you to visit a facility. You can also use an advocacy service to determine a second opinion on eldercare facilities–you could talk to the advocacy service about facilities recommended to you by the free eldercare referral service, have them look into whether these facilities have good ratings and reputations, and ask them to offer additional recommended eldercare facilities for you to check out.
Check into whether your employer offers an advocacy service as part of your benefits package. Often, advocacy services extend not just to you and your spouse and/or children, but also to your parents and parents-in-law; such is the case with Health Advocate, whose advocacy benefits are often an integral part of an employee’s benefits package. If you are out of work, uninsured, and don’t have access to an advocacy service as a group benefit, Health Proponent is a trusted advocacy service that can help individuals and their families. Both Health Advocate and Health Proponent can review your case for free (although they both charge a small fee for their services) and help you locate eldercare facilities that meet your needs, and they will truly have your and your loved one’s best interests in mind.