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Senior Circles: Place for Mom senior living resource serves dad as well

A comprehensive senior living resource, which provides a free service to help seniors and their families find senior housing and senior care, sounds too good to be true. A Place for Mom provides such a service based on the needs and budget of the individuals seeking their help.

After seeing recent TV commercials and attending a presentation by Jessica Welch, community relations advisor, on "A Place for Mom," at my local senior activity center, I decided to pass this information on to our readers.

You are probably thinking about now that if A Place for Mom advertises on television, the organization must be a business endeavor. It is a for-profit business. The participating communities and providers in their national network pay referral fees to APFM.

Consumers — you and your family — receive their service at no charge. APFM prohibits their participating providers and communities from passing through their fees to you, charging you any other additional amounts because you used APFM services, or withholding any discounts for which you may qualify. More than 18,000 senior care and senior housing properties advertise their services on A Place for Mom's web site, http://www.aplaceformom.com.

Another question you are probably asking is "Does A Place for Mom help dads, too?" That is one of the Frequently Asked Questions on their web site. The answer is: "Yes! We help lots of dads, brothers and uncles too! We will try and help anyone that needs assistance finding senior care options."

Founded in 2000 by a husband and wife in their home in Seattle, A Place for Mom helps more than 200,000 families a year find senior care. Why the name "A Place for Mom?" According to Jessica Welch, the name came up during a brainstorming session the couple had with their partner, and it just stuck.

If you go to http://www.aplaceformom.com you can click on Maryland in the list of states, where they operate, which is all 50. It lists Columbia as one of the top cities in Maryland. Ellicott City is in the list of all cities in Maryland. Their comprehensive Maryland senor living directory helps you find nursing homes,Alzheimer's memory care, adult day services, residential care homes, home care, senior apartments and independent living. There is a description for each senior living site and a list of the location's features and amenities, such as meals provided, pets accepted, nurses on staff, doctor on call, size of rooms and levels of care.

A Place for Mom has what they call senior living advisors, "local experts who can offer you personalized assistance, financial resources and time saving advice." They live in the region they serve and can provide an insider's knowledge, including costs, and view of local care options because they visit and get to know all the facilities in their area network. They ensure that you don't have to go through the search alone and that you are informed and equipped to make important care decisions.

They help you through the challenges of finding the best fit for your family situation. They guide you through the process and give you the tools to be prepared but the decision is up to the family. To work with A Place for Mom, you can go online or telephone, and after answering a few initial questions, you will be connected with a senior living advisor in the area where you need to find care. The phone number, which will get you to all advisers in Maryland, is 301-363-2327. Their email address is MarylandSeniorOptions@aplaceformom.com.

Your senior living adviser will respectfully ask questions about the care needs of you or your loved one, including current medications, mobility needs, required assistance for activities daily living (dressing, bathing, eating, etc.) and memory function. Additionally, you will discuss geographical preferences, financial requirements, hobbies, desired amenities and other helpful details. This information helps your advisor to identify the providers and communities from the network that offer the required level of care and services.

After Jessica's presentation, "When the Child Becomes the Parent," about care options in general and A Place for Mom services, I had a chance to talk with her. She said that the senior living advisers do most of their work with families online or over the phone, because of the large number of requests they get for help. They can also work with siblings in different states and with a family member who is in a different state than the parent.

In the case of a senior with no family, a friend can work with APFM to find the right, safe senior housing environment.

Jessica said, "Making an informed decision about how to care for your loved ones as their needs change can be overwhelming, stressful and time consuming. We are experts who can share care options and communities that fit your needs. In today's world of information overload, it brings us great pleasure to help families navigate through the complicated and overwhelming process of finding the right kind of care for their loved ones."

Jessica said that it is easier on the family if they can go through this process when it isn't an emergency situation. You can use APFM's services as a planning tool for the future. She encourages families to be proactive, not reactive, and then they will have the information ready if there is an emergency.

She also said that communication is the key in this process. Change is uncomfortable, but you need to share feelings focusing on the individual loved one. You want them to be safe and to help them retain as much control as possible. Encouraging the smallest change possible is a good way to start.

I will end with a quote from Jessica Welch, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We always like to add, 'Get good directions.' "

APFM's senor living advisors can give direction to you and your family members on this difficult journey. One of the slides in her presentation stated, "Remember you are never alone."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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