Keep In Mind Blog

Senior Living; “You Lost Me at Hello!”

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to give a tour

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to give a tour

Part ONE of a Three Part Series

In 1996, the movie Jerry Maguire, was all the rage. One of the most memorable phrases from the movie was, “Show Me the Money!” that quickly became inserted into the public domain. However, another famous line from that same movie, came towards the end when Renee Zellweger, tearfully said to Tom Cruise, “You had me at Hello.”

Recently, I had a real life experience that had great potential for a “Show Me the Money!” moment, however it quickly turned into a “You LOST Me at Hello.”

Professionally, I’m a Dementia Solutions Expert. Personally, I’m an adult child, delivering caregiving support to my aging parents. My 86 year old mother is the primary caregiver to my 85 year old father, who has Dementia. They’ve been married 61 years and currently live in their own home. Like thousands of other adult children in similar situations, I live across the country from my parents home base. However, I’m intricately involved in their care and the caregiving decisions.

Because of my professional expertise, I’ve got insights into the Senior Living industry that often impact our family decisions. Often, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Most notably, a blessing for my parents. Frequently, a curse for the service providers, who aren’t aware of my savvy understanding.

On one of my recent check-in trips, my mother and I went for a pro-active visit to a nearby Assisted Living community. It was our intention to tour their building and gather information. We don’t know what the furture holds. But we do know that Dad’s journey may increase to a level, where he won’t be able to stay home with Mom any longer.

As a professional, I frequently ‘coach’ families in similar situations, to show up un-announced to professional communities for tours. Too often, when the community is expecting the tour; a ‘three-ring-circus’ atmosphere is staged, which gives the consumer a non-realistic view of normal day-to-day life on the inside. Therefore, by showing up un-announced, the consumer can get a ‘real time’ experience. Conversely, I ‘coach’ my professional clients that their buildings should always be ready, willing and welcoming to the unexpected walk-ins. Professionals should  be proud of their operations no matter the time of day or night. 

We entered the building at 12:20pm on a Friday. We were cautiously greeted by the employee behind the front desk. When I asked her if someone could “give us a tour,” she was visibly uncomfortable and responded, “Well, we usually schedule tours.” Strike One.

I responded, “Would you like us to leave?” More uncomfortableness ensued. “Well, she responded, it’s just that I’m not sure anyone is available at the moment.”

“I’m in town from out of State,” I shared “And am leaving tomorrow, so this is our only opportunity.” She retreated through the closed door behind her desk and moments later emerged, with the announcement that She would be able to give us a tour. She had no name tag and never asked us our names either. Strike Two.

I quickly filled out the one page form she pushed towards me, while she shifted nervously, waiting for me to finish. I asked her, for the name of the Executive Director of the building, to which she never responded. Yet, she told me that the Director’s business card was in the packet, she then handed me. Strike Three.

The tour began. We were off to a very rocky start. And, as I anticipated…it got progressivly worse from there.

Stay tuned……..


Dementia Solutions Expert & President of Keep In Mind, Inc. specializing in holistic Dementia care solutions. An engaging Keynote presenter, audiences applaud Belks passion for advocacy and common sense care solutions. She's the author of the 360 Dementia Care Operational manual for professional providers. And she's developed the workplace wellness initiative; Caregiving 411, for those who balance care & career. Recognized for implementing large-scale programs for those with Dementia; She's developed Fitness with Friends, Memory Magz & Memory Mealz.

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