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Episode #21 - Navigating Senior Living Decisions with Joyce Logan 

Eric Blake: Welcome to another episode of the Simply Retirement Podcast, where our focus is educating and supporting women throughout the retirement journey. Whether you're single by choice, by divorce, widowed, or if you're simply ready to take control of your financial future, I'm your host, Eric Blake. And before we get to our guest, I do have one quick announcement that I am extremely excited about. As soon as we wrap up the recording today I am headed south to see my daughter and our very first grandchild. She was born exactly two weeks ago today, Sloan Cecile Rose Lolliot and she is absolutely beautiful. So, as soon as we wrap up our recording today, I'm headed down there to see her for the very first time.

Now, onto the episode. When it comes to retirement planning, the three largest expenses you'll have in retirement are most likely going to be healthcare, taxes, and housing. In today's episode we're going to focus on what could actually be one of the most, or probably the most emotional of those three, and that is housing. And to help us with that, I'm going to be joined today by Joyce Logan. Joyce is the founder of Ruby Care - Senior Living Advisors. Joyce herself is a certified senior living advisor, and we're going to find out exactly what that means here in just a few minutes. So Joyce Logan, welcome to the Simply Retirement Podcast.

Joyce Logan: Well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast today. I look forward to sharing some information about a profession that a lot of people don't even know exists. And once they learn about us, they say, "Where have you been when I was looking for a place for my parents?" So thank you and congratulations on your first grandbaby.

Eric Blake: Thank you. Yes, she's amazing. So I'm looking forward to seeing her. Now again, to be completely honest, we all want to stay in our home as long as possible, but unfortunately, that's not always possible. There are often reasons why you may want to, or you may need to choose a different living environment in retirement. And we actually had an episode on the importance of staying at home as long as possible with a friend of both of ours, Mary Greer, back on episode 12. But unfortunately, as health changes or you need more care, or maybe you need a specific type of care or you may have lost a spouse, you want to be in an environment that offers more social connection. But it can be really challenging in how to find those different environments, those different living arrangements. And actually, that's why we want to find out how you can help. So, just to start off, can you help us understand what is a senior living advisor?

Joyce Logan: Yeah, so what is a senior living advisor? We are sometimes referred to as placement agents, referral agents, and elder care consultants. So, we help the seniors and families find the best housing options as they move toward that next step in life. They may need independent living, assisted living, memory care, residential care homes. I think the easiest way to describe us, we're like a realtor or an apartment locator for seniors. And most of us advisors work at no cost to families because we're compensated by the communities when you move into them. So that's how we're able to keep it a free service.

Eric Blake: Excellent. Now, in my opinion, it really helps connect to the audience and understanding how you got into this business. And I know your story, you haven't shared that. I'd really like to hear more about your background. How did you actually get into this business?

Joyce Logan: Well, I kind of stepped into it and, like a lot of people do in our industry, from their own personal experiences. So my mom and stepdad were both diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia, and I got that urgent call that they could no longer care for themselves and live alone. So they were living in Georgia at the time. So my sister, niece, and I went there immediately to make the plans to move them. We packed them up and put their house up for sale, all within a week. Yeah, I know it was a lot. And my sister insisted that they move to Ohio, that's where I'm from, to live with her. So she and her husband cared for them in their home for as long as they could until it wasn't safe anymore. So then they started struggling finding resources that fit within their budget and their needs.

So I helped as much as I could long distance, but it wasn't nearly enough. My sister and brother-in-law, are totally, totally amazing people, and it's something that they will be able to say they did and cared for them for the rest of their lives, a feel-good thing. So, about a year later, then I found myself helping my mother-in-law move from her home in East Texas to be closer to family after the death of her husband, my father-in-law. She was a very independent woman, and so she chose when she wanted to give up driving and when she wanted to move. So it made it easier, but most families we help aren't that easy. So, both of those situations really inspired me to learn everything I could about senior living so I could be a resource for other families and seniors who were going through the same thing.

So in 2016, that's when Ruby Care was founded. So now, through my business, Ruby Care, my team and I are advocates for families all over the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Collectively, we have about 150 years of experience in senior living. Yeah, there are nine of us on the team, and many of us are certified senior advisors or certified dementia practitioners or have worked in hospice, home health, home care, or senior living communities. And what's unique about us, too, is a lot of us, all of us, have had our own personal experiences with our families. So we know what people and families are going through. So we all have that same drive or why we do what we do. We want to make it easier for families. It truly, truly is our ministry.

Eric Blake: And I think that's so important. And that's one of the reasons that I want to have you on. And again, some of the other guests we've had on is when we focus on helping women plan for a successful retirement, as you just talked about, it's so frequently that a daughter, that a woman will be at least some part responsible or at least want to be responsible for helping their family members find housing. And it's something that can really derail things if you don't know where the resources are, who to turn to, because you think about maybe if you're going to sell your house because you need to move, maybe you can talk to a real estate agent or maybe not.

Another friend of ours, Jules Hicks, she was on episode 10, said, "Hey, maybe you don't need a real estate agent." But I think it's so important to have the resources, have access to the resources and who do I contact, who do I turn to when I have to make these types of decisions? So, one question I had about when you started Ruby Care: was it just you at the beginning, or did you actually have a team right off the bat?

Joyce Logan: Well, originally, I had a business partner, and she really was so instrumental in getting Ruby Care started. She left about three years ago to do another family business, and she's just a remarkable person. But she and I were the first two lone rangers out there working away, and we really put ourselves on the map, I would say. We worked nonstop for two years before people really realized we were going to be around to help people. So now we're going on our eighth year.

Eric Blake: And you talked a little bit about how you get compensated that for the most part it's going to be free for those who are seeking out your services. How did you go about making the connections with some of the different communities and things like that, that you work with or that you can connect people with?

Joyce Logan: Well, we went out there to networking events, and you just go to each and every community. So we pride ourselves that we do not refer families to communities or residential care homes, any place, unless we've been there or somebody on our team has been there personally to see if they're in compliance and following the state guidelines.

Eric Blake: But I think that speaks to one of the questions that I think is very important, and you and I had communicated about, and that is the decision to work with somebody like yourself, to work with a senior living advisor versus trying to do the research on your own, because I would expect that you've got so much more access to information and resources, and again, I am aware of a lot of the things that you do outside to make these connections. But just from your perspective, why would somebody choose to work with you over trying to do all the work on their own?

Joyce Logan: Yeah. Well, there are several reasons that a person should work with a placement service. I prefer us to be called senior living advisors because when you're researching senior living for yourself or a loved one, it can be so overwhelming, and so many questions come up. A lot of people will call us and say, "I need a nursing home." And once you talk to them, you find out really they just need independent living. They just lump all senior housing as a nursing home. So it's something that we got to educate people on. But if you have that expert by your side, it can make a world of difference. A trusted advisor, they will be there. They are your advocate, whether you're not ready to move and you just need that in-home care. That's why we need these resources that you had on before, our friend.

Eric Blake: Mary Greer. Yeah.

Joyce Logan: Mary. Mary Greer.

Eric Blake: Mary and Jules, yeah.

Joyce Logan: Yeah, and Jules. So we can refer to folks to those people so we can find that right solution. The main reason I would say is that we can save you a lot of time from looking at the wrong places. It may take you a week or so to do some research that an advisor can do in 30 minutes. Or a lot of times, they'll talk to their friends, and they'll say, "Oh, my aunt, she lives in this great assisted living community, and you ought to go check it out." And your loved one may only need independent living. And they're totally different and priced differently, too. So there's a lot of wasted time going to a lot of these places. Or you may Google, I Google all the time, I'm guilty of that. And there are a lot of hidden things out there, hidden gems that may not show up high on that search engine.

Another thing is that an advisor has all kinds of knowledge and a good pulse on the industry. They know the cost, the availability, in which communities are in good standing. They know the differences of all these communities. If you need assisted living, let's say there could be 12 in a 10-mile radius, and we know what sets them apart. I had a lady that had a dog, she needed assisted living, and she wanted a patio apartment that opened to a courtyard. She was coming from a home and she wanted that convenience. So a professional, we know where those communities are. And as I mentioned earlier, we know the pricing, we know the availability. We're not going to send you to places that are full unless you have time to wait. But most of the time, when we're working with people, they are getting discharged from rehab, and they need a place to go right away. So we're not going to waste your time running around.

I often compare these communities to hotels, whether that's right or wrong. So why should I send somebody to the Ritz-Carlton when their budget may be Holiday Inn? So we're going to work within a person's budget. And then the resources, local resources, as you have mentioned. You and I have met each other at networking events, so we're going to refer people to some valuable resources like home health or home care or financial planners. So we just know all the people personally and how they work. But I would definitely, the number one reason, I would say is because we're free, why not use us? Because we're a free service to people.

Eric Blake: Free is always good.

Joyce Logan: Oh, I know, right? I would say 98% of the communities work with us. They are calling constantly wanting contracts with us. Sometimes people will say, "Well, are you biased? Do all these communities work with you?" Honestly, we refer people to all places, whatever fits their niche best.

Eric Blake: Well, I think that's another important factor that, as I was starting to prepare for our episode, was something I guess I really didn't think about. And that is the fact that there are some of these national organizations out there that you might see an advertisement for or commercial. But to me, it seems like you'd really want to work with somebody locally who has those personal connections. So can you talk about that a little bit more, just why that is important, having that local connection in your position?

Joyce Logan: Yeah. Well, we both work differently, the online companies versus local, and they both have their own merits, but I think there are many more good reasons why families should consider working with local. Mainly because we're boots on the ground. We know these communities and the resources well, we are in and out of these communities all the time. We pre-tour them, we screen them, we get to meet the staff, we know the staff, we know the longevity of the staff. We try the food. Food is probably the most important thing that the seniors wants. I know that for a fact. We know communities, and we even know the geography. Like a family may not want to go past LBJ Loop. A lot of people think going past LBJ and Dallas think that's Oklahoma. So, an online company, they may not understand that. They're most likely going to be working with an advisor from another state, say Wisconsin.

So they just don't understand the particulars of an area. And again, like I said, the local agents can connect you with local resources. So, even local advisors work differently. Some will just email you a list of options for you to set up your own appointments, and they may not accompany you on a tour. Whereas other companies like Ruby Care, we offer that handholding guidance and we provide that education guiding you through this whole process. We'll set up the tours, we'll tour with you, we'll follow up. Also, those online companies sometimes get a bad reputation for sending your contact information to several communities.

Eric Blake : Wow.

Joyce Logan: I know, like, 10 or 20. The next thing you know your phone is just blowing up. You're getting calls from all these places, communities wanting you to come and tour. So it's important before you work with a company, you ask them how their process works. But really the decision working between an online company or a local depends on your priorities. So both offer value. So you just have to determine what is most suitable for you.

Eric Blake: Well, I think that I would have to think that that personalized touch of being able to actually go with the family to the facility as, again, as you talked about multiple times, being an advocate, to me that's got to be huge. I mean, again, when you're trying to make such an emotional decision, if you've had to sell your house or you're going to be selling your house and you're moving to this brand new facility and you don't really know anything about it, I have to believe that that personal touch has got to be significant as far as helping just that decision-making process.

Joyce Logan: I definitely think so. And we give the client the choice if they want us to tour, and I would say nine times out of 10, they want that personal touch. We can help them and ask questions that they may not think of asking. And we do respect the marketer in the building that's giving the tour. We let them do the whole process. So we are there for the client that we're serving to make sure that they get all those questions answered and asked, and we partner with the marketer to give them that information that they may not think of asking as well.

Eric Blake: So you touched on the word earlier, process. So I know there's a lot of moving parts, there's a lot of ins and outs, different things that go on behind the scenes. But just in general, somebody says, "Hey, we've got to make this decision. I've got to move to someplace that's going to provide the care that I need or some specific type of care." What does the basic process look like? Once they pick up the phone, they call Ruby Care; what happens from there?

Joyce Logan: Yeah. So we do a consultation and, as you said, in person, but usually it is over the phone. So, we ask them a lot of questions about their healthcare needs, their budget, location, where they want to live, and interests. We not only want to know about their care needs, but we want to know about them personally from their career accomplishments to their favorite hobbies. Are they outgoing? Our goal is to really match you to the best community. So having this conversation together, we can achieve that.

Because we listen so carefully and get all this information, we narrow down the options to two to three communities. And so we set up the tours and accompany them on the tour, and if those don't work, then we will find other options for them. We'll make sure we find the best place for them. So what's interesting is usually most people will select that first or second place that we've recommended, because we've listened carefully. Just this week I had this couple and they were just looking for independent living. And what was so cute about it was that they knew Ruby when Ruby was alive. So they were like, "Well, we're not going to move until summer." And so we went and toured two communities, and I couldn't believe it. She called me two days ago and said, "Joyce, we put a deposit down. We are going with that first place that you showed us, and we are moving next week." I'm like, "Wow."

I was like, "That's really fast for somebody that wasn't going to move until summer." And their children are happy, because they're going to be closer to them and they don't have to worry about them. That they are in a place that's going to take care of them, provide the meals, and oversee their care needs.

Eric Blake: In terms of timeframe, again, make that initial call, what's a general timeframe that people should be aware of from, "Hey, I've made this initial call or we've made the decision that we're going to need to move," until actually moving? What would you advise, or how early would you suggest starting the process before actually pulling the trigger on a big decision like this?

Joyce Logan:  Well, as you know, being a financial planner, people should educate themselves about the cost of senior housing well in advance, because they are so many times in sticker shock when they find out how much things cost. So many times I get calls from families and they think Medicare is going to cover the costs, and they are totally shocked when they find out it doesn't.

So I would say for us, 90% of our calls are in crisis mode. They've had a fall, or they've ended up in the hospital, and they can't live alone anymore, and they need something right away. Whereas people looking for independent living tend to plan, it's more of a choice than a needs base. So they are not in that crisis mode. So I'd say seven. And they say seven out of 10 people will require assisted living, some kind of assisted living care in their lifetime, and a lot of them do not plan for that. So, while there's really no one-size-fits-all answer, I would say start exploring before there's a crisis that occurs so you can make the decision yourself and make an informed one.

Eric Blake: You brought up one other thing, and I just want to maybe clarify this, do you do anything as far as temporary situations or would you refer that to another professional? So if somebody, it was just going to be a temporary stay for some reason, do you guys handle that as well? Or is that more another area that you would refer somebody to?

Joyce Logan: Yeah, that's a good question. We call that respite. So there are several times like I had a lady who needed to go visit her brother out of state and her husband; she was caring for him at home, and he had dementia. And so we found a memory care community and he was there for two weeks. But most of the communities want them there for at least 30 days because it's the same process paperwork, getting them set up for the long term versus just the short term. But yeah, we help people all the time with respite situations.

Eric Blake: Now I want to come back to one other thing. So a senior living advisor, what is the qualifications to become that? To become certified, what do you actually have to do?

Joyce Logan: Well, I would say you have to have a heart. [inaudible 00:21:48]-

Eric Blake: That's a good place to start. I like that.

Joyce Logan: Exactly. There really aren't any licenses or anything, but I would say you just have to have a deep understanding or knowledge and care for seniors. Most senior advisors, senior living advisors or nurses, social workers, are people who have worked in the industry. But I would say what to look for in an advisor is someone who has experience. How long have they been in business? Are they involved in the community? Look at their company, their reviews, and whether they are members of NPRA. That's a National Placement Referral Alliance, and that's established in 2017.

So that's an association that's trying to further establish the placement industry. They have established a code of ethics and a set of best practices. So, to be a member, you have to follow those guidelines. And so that's probably one good one. But probably the highest designation certification out there is a certified senior advisor. And I myself, as you mentioned earlier, have that designation. So they touch on a wide issue of there's a stringent test that you have to take and it touches on health and social financial concerns. And a lot of financial planners have that designation as well. And are they certified dementia practitioners? So I would say those are probably the main things to look for.

Eric Blake:  And is there any reason why somebody might consider working with multiple advisors? So maybe I'm going to use somebody with Ruby Care, and then I'm going to use, obviously, we know other people that are in the similar industry, are in the same industry. But what reasons would there, or would you ever encourage somebody not to really just pick one, pick one you trust, and go with that? Or would there be a reason to maybe work with a couple of different advisors?

Joyce Logan: That is probably one of the best questions you asked all day.

Eric Blake: Thank you.

Joyce Logan: Yeah, I definitely only work with one at a time. And like I said earlier, a lot of people don't even know about us or they don't understand. So really we do ask, are you working with anybody else? Because what happens, it muddies the water. So it confuses the communities as well. So a lot of times we're overlapping sending the same information. So just like with realtor, you only work with one at a time.

Eric Blake: Got it. Now, you brought up an example earlier, and maybe this is the one, but I always like to ask the question. Can you give us an example, what is a family, an individual that you were able to help or you felt like, "This is why I do what I do?" Obviously, besides your own story. But somebody that you say, "This is my why, this is why I got into this, and why I feel like we can really help people."

Joyce Logan: Oh, wow. There are so many of those, but I would say there's one that's the most memorable one. A church gave me a referral. So I talked to the lady on the phone and I go visit her at the rehab. Here comes the daughter out, and she's in her walker, and she's elderly herself. And I'm thinking that is the client, but actually, she was the daughter, and her mother was like 104, and the daughter was like 82 or something like that. And those two, they had lived together for 20 years, and the daughter never had children. So they lived in the same home. The mother had fallen at home, and the daughter tried to pick her up. They both fell, and the daughter ended up crawling to the door or to her phone and called 911. they came to the house and got them, and they both ended up in rehab.

And so I stayed in touch with that family and their niece just for the longest, and I even attended their services. They were just the two that mostly stood out to me that didn't really have children really caring for them except the daughter or the mother. And so sweet. The mother's name was Ruby. So they were just somebody that stood out to me. But yeah, every day there's a story of someone that touches us. One of my advisors said, "You know what? I just got the sweetest note, text, from a client saying, 'I don't know what I would've done without you, and what are some advice or games I can play with my loved one?'" And so she immediately sent her some games that she played with her own mother or used with her own mother, and the daughter was just in awe still. So, every day, there is a sweet story that makes a good reason we do what we do.

Eric Blake: I think that's so amazing. I'm sure we both have very similar desires to help people to make a difference in people's lives. And when you hear those stories, and you get that feedback, it touches your heart, and it just makes you want to keep touching other people and reaching out to more people to help. So this has been extremely helpful. So I would really like to get an idea from you or just share how can our audience connect with you? What is the best way to get in touch with you and learn more about what you can do to help people who are looking at making these different living arrangements?

Joyce Logan: Yeah, they can reach me directly and my number is (214) 536-2979. They can go to our website and that's rubycaresenior.com. And my email is jlogan@rubycaresenior.com.

Eric Blake: Excellent. Well, Joyce, thank you so much for joining us today. Please do reach out to Joyce and her team at Ruby Care - Senior Living Advisors. If you're trying to make an educated decision on your senior housing needs, as often the case with our audience, if you're playing a role in helping other family members make these decisions, we'll be sure to put her information in the episode summary to make it easier for you to connect.

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