An Insider’s Guide to Aging in San Diego and What you Need to Know about Placement Professionals

I received a call last week from a woman who has children at home, teaches full time and has parents in their late 80s – requiring more help than she has time to provide.  Like most people, she had no idea about the resources and choices available for seniors.  Most people have a crisis happen and then they are forced into a world they know nothing about. 

The good news is that aging looks very different than it did for my grandparents and great-grandparents. I remember visiting my great-grandmother in the nursing home (which is what senior living was back in the 1970s). As an eight year old, I remember the wheelchairs pushed next to the windows and even then recognizing the sadness in people’s faces. I had no personal experience with the options available for seniors until I started Silver Linings Transitions, a senior and specialty move management company.  My grandmother was my grandfather’s sole caregiver caring for him in their home. Nine months after he died, my grandmother died suddenly from a medical mistake which I believe would have been avoided had they moved to senior living and he could have received the assistance he needed rather than relying on a 78 year old woman. As my own parents, peers and their parents are beginning to explore their options, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so you will be prepared. If you are considering senior living, a placement professional should be one of your first contacts. Placement professionals are like working with a Realtor or a “tour guide” to senior communities.

They get to know your needs, wants, personality and budget and help determine the most appropriate place for you to live. Some placement professionals focus only on senior living communities which may include Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or a Continuum of Care. If your preference is to remain in your current home, some placement professionals identify the right resources you’ll need to remain as long and as safely as possible in the residence of your choice.

Why work with a placement professional versus going straight to the senior community? A good placement professional has no vested interest in the place you choose. Most are paid a referral fee by participating senior communities.  There are some exceptions of communities who don’t participate and my personal opinion is that it is still worth seeking the advice of a placement professional even if the cost is out of pocket*. (Read below about reducing out of pocket expenses.) There are some fabulous senior living communities in San Diego. Some have all the bells and whistles on the outside but have issues behind the scenes.  A good placement professional will be aware of these issues so you can make an informed decision.

Placement professionals have varying backgrounds and work differently. They may have backgrounds in counseling/therapy, nursing, senior living administrative positions and some started as a result of their own experience trying to find the right “place” for a loved one who needed more than they were getting at home.  Placement professionals may also choose to specialize in specific niches like dementia or low income.

I’d recommend you go this route or seek a direct referral rather than going online and filling out the forms. Once you give your name, there is an excellent chance your name will be shared and the lead capture source will own your name and the right to your business cutting out placement professionals who operate small businesses and typically offer more individualized service.

Since this is one of the most personal decisions you’ll ever make, it’s important to interview a few placement professionals to find your right “fit”. If you are a senior in San Diego, I highly recommend working with a  placement professional who’s a member of the National Placement and Referral Alliance. The organization is growing and currently has a chapter in San Diego. I am also happy to make recommendations.
The National Placement and Referral Alliance has a code of ethics and requires training for membership.

*If your cash is tied up in your home, Silver Linings Transitions partners with local Realtors who can help defer costs needed until the home closes escrow.

Each week, my blog will provide what I hope is valuable information and insight into senior specific businesses and the dedicated professionals who are dedicated to improving the lives of seniors and their families. If there is a topic you’d like to learn more about or you would like a recommendation, please contact me at