Topic: How It All Started

My Mom’s Move to Assisted Living

Stress often ensues within a family when one family member is in a crisis. My mother resisted the clear need to move into a Retirement Community. She was 84 years old, lived alone, had only one adult daughter and had just moved to a new city where she no longer had a network of friends to call on nor to check-in on her during illness. While she had had her name on a waiting list for a Retirement Community for ten years, when it was her turn, she did not want to make the move.

Three months later, she had a health issue which required hospitalization and skilled nursing. Because of the rapidly approaching discharge date from the Skilled Nursing Facility, we had a short two weeks to find the right Assisted Living community that could offer the the personal support she needed. This put a lot of stress on me, her go-to person, her only daughter.

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No Sign-up Required and no unsolicited literature

It is really important to me that our users do not have to provide their contact information to be able to browse through the Communities on SearchSeniorLiving.com.  I know that like me, they would want to look at the Community information before they decide that SearchSeniorLiving.com is their website of choice.  I think it is also important that our clients get to choose the communities with which they communicate.

Two years ago, when I was researching communities for mom, I had to sign-up on the websites before I could look through the information about the properties. Within two days, I started to get stacks and stacks of  unsolicited literature from many of the Bay Area communities.  It was so overwhelming!  Our living room was lined with piles of envelopes.  What I wanted instead was to be able to communicate with the top 3-5 choices for my mother, take tours and then decide.

I want to ensure that SearchSeniorLiving.com makes it easier for people to find a senior living community with the Internet as a research tool. What I don’t want is for the user, in their time of need, to be overwhelmed and snowed under, like I was.

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If only searching for senior living was as easy as it is now for hotels

Watching Jill struggling to track down the best option for her mother gave me an idea. We had been working in the travel industry, developing website reservations systems and providing voice reservations services for hotels and we’d been doing it for years. I thought, “How hard would it be to use the technology we’ve developed to find the right hotel, and create a website to find the right Senior Living Community?” The user would enter their specific needs and payment preferences. The system would present Communities and rate them based on the degree to which they met the user’s requirements. Well, after a year and a half of development we found that it wasn’t that easy…but it was doable.

We found that some users were familiar with senior living needs and services. They knew what type of Community they were looking for and wanted to move along quickly to the Search Criteria section. For users such as Jill, we needed to be able to offer information on-the-fly to help them make intelligent choices during the search process. So, in the Community Type section, we added, “Help me choose what works best for my situation.” Additionally, we added a help button to each step, with tips on how to proceed. And, if the way forward was still unclear, the user can call one of us at 877-243-8073 for personal help.

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Confusing Acronyms and Sign-ups Required

There I was with a mother who could not walk without falling down or the fear of falling down. After being hospitalized she was referred to a skilled nursing center for rehabilitation. The staff there determined that she would walk again but that living independently was no longer an option. However, her case manager, doctor and physical therapy team determined but that she could live independently within an Assisted Living community. They recommended an Assisted Living community nearby and gave us a book from Marin County with listings of communities. Upon asking how to find communities in nearby counties, I was given two websites to visit.

The next day was spent on the Internet, looking at those websites. Firstly, I was required to sign-up with my mailing address and email address. At the time I had no idea that this meant I was going to receive stacks and stacks of packages of information from communities within a hundred and twenty mile radius of our home. Secondly the listings of communities that were available on this websites were filled with acronyms like IL, AL, CCRC, and SNF. I had no idea what any of these acronyms meant nor could I find definitions readily available. Thirdly, there was no pricing, photos or a way in which to compare the communities online…

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Motivated by our own experience

It was because of the need to find the right living environment for a loved one in our family that Search Senior Living came about.

Carol was living independently in a great apartment on a hilltop in Mill Valley.  From her place she could watch sea planes taking off and landing on Richardson’s Bay and commuters slowly making their way to and from San Francisco.

Then, one morning she noticed that it was becoming harder to get up from a low chair or the couch and she found it increasingly difficult to walk.  Now, at 84, after being active and independent all her life, she was having trouble getting around her apartment by herself.

After a number of doctors visits and an uncertain diagnosis, we found ourselves facing the question, “Where can she live and get the support she needs?”  That’s when Jill began her crash-course in Senior Living options….

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