How does a senior referral or placement agency work?

Senior referral agencies, also known as placement agencies or eldercare advisory services help older people find the best retirement community, assisted living, or adult family home for their needs. They provide customized recommendations, education, and support resulting in better informed, long-lasting decisions. Most agencies are paid by their partnering facilities when the older person moves in. This enables them to offer their services at no direct cost to the older person or their family members. Some referral agencies alternatively offer their services by the hour or for a flat fee depending on the need.  

Why should I consider working with a referral agency rather than finding a senior living community on my own?

Referral agencies make a difficult job easier. They take the time to get to know you, your family, and extended care team. They gain an understanding of the details of your needed care, finances, and desires and work together with all involved parties until the best place is found. If they have been in business for a while they have established relationships with hundreds of local senior care providers and followed the reputation of these providers over time.  Agencies have access to information about care providers that can’t be found anywhere else. They will make sure you are educated and know what you are signing up for. The end result is a new home that is long-lasting and just right.

Are all referral agencies alike?

The ability of an agency to serve their clients well depends on their experience level, knowledge of the social, health, and financial needs of seniors, compassion, and connection to resources and technology.  It is best to work with an agency that does personal on-site visits of providers and works with their clients in person as well.  In King County alone, there are 1275 adult family homes (as of April 2022) and hundreds of assisted living communities. The quality of a senior referral agency depends on the care and caliber of the individuals working there and their ability to keep track of a huge volume of information in a searchable, meaningful way. 

What sets Silver Age apart from many other agencies?

At Silver Age, our mission is to promote the independence, safety, and enjoyment of life of each person we serve.  Each agent that works for Silver Age describes their work as the culmination of their past career, life skills, and personal journey caring for their own older family members. Our work is carried out with great honor and the conviction that our words and actions make a difference in people’s lives. Visit our Team page to learn more about our team members’ backgrounds and qualifications. We also exist to uplift our local Seattle area senior living care providers. We give them honest feedback so they can deliver the best care they possibly can. Our secret weapon is our custom-built provider tracking database. Founder Abby Durr’s husband Kenyon has built us the best database, and without it, we would be totally lost. 

I don't or my parent(s) don't want to move now. When should I start exploring options?

Now or soon. Learning about the options, their tradeoffs and costs early will help you be much better prepared if and when health needs arise. We love working with people who are not ready to move any time soon, but want to get familiar with the Seattle area senior living landscape. If you are an older person developing your plan A and plan B might be one of the biggest gifts you could ever give to your loved ones. If you are in the mood for some preplanning reading this book is a great place to start and don’t hesitate to give us a call.


What are your charges?

We receive compensation in a couple of ways. First, and most commonly, Silver Age partners with over 900 local retirement and assisted living communities and adult family homes that pay us a commission upon your move-in. The commission amount ranges from 75 to 100% of the first month’s rent determined by the community. The community you choose pays us when all is going well at 30, 60, and 90 days after your move-in. The fee and terms, including refunds, are fully disclosed to you. Second, for some situations or personal preference, families hire Silver Age by the hour, or for a flat fee. Give us a call and we can discuss which service type makes the most sense for you. 

What can I expect from my first introduction to Silver Age?

A phone call is usually the best way to start. We will set up a time to talk and ask you a series of questions to determine if our services are right for you.  When it seems like a good fit we will set up a time in the near future for a discovery session also known as an “intake.” Whenever possible and safe, we like to do our intake in person. When meeting in person isn’t possible Zoom is a good alternative. If you are Zoomed out, we can work over the phone too. 

How does the intake work?

 The intake usually takes about an hour or just over an hour. The State of Washington has developed guidelines that we follow regarding the questions we ask. The questions cover your current living situation, health, diagnoses, medications, support needed with activities of daily living, a financial overview, and your desires and preferences. 

What professional credentials do your associates have?

All of our team members have years of professional experience working with seniors and their families. Team members come from a variety of backgrounds including occupational therapy, caregiving, caregiver support group facilitation, mental health and dementia care, and adult family home ownership.  Recently, the team became Independent Certified Consultants through Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care program. Currently, there are no professional credentials required to work as an eldercare advisor or referral agent in WA state.  All agencies must however operate in compliance with the regulations outlined in the Elder and Vulnerable Adult Referral Agency Act.


How long does the process take from initial contact to move-in?

The time varies. We have helped facilitate emergency moves in two days or less when safety has been a concern. On the other end of the spectrum, we have worked with families for a year or more before the senior is ready to make the move. On average the process takes a couple of weeks to a couple of months to tour and find the right place and make all of the move-in arrangements. Sometimes scheduling a doctor’s appointment can hold up a move. If you are planning to move to a senior community in the near future and haven’t seen your doctor for a while schedule an appointment now. Ask the facility where you plan to move what they may need from your doctor.

After my parent moves into his or her new home, when does your work for us end?

We make an effort to stay actively involved to help the transition go smoothly. Then after the move, we check in with the provider and with you a minimum of three times.  If you experience any challenges during or after the move-in, we are always available to help and encourage you to contact us.

Besides helping me find a new home for my parent, what other services do you offer?

Helping older people and those who love them find the right new place to call home is our main focus. We can also be hired for general consulting related to care or direct you to an expert like a licensed mental health counselor, or geriatric mental health specialist. We are also available for hire to help during the transition. We are not able to provide caregiving services or moving services, but if there is an odd job that your sister was going to do that now she can’t, give us a call and we may be able to help.

If I have a spouse or other family member who needs care, how can you help?

We often work with spouses, siblings, guardians, or others involved in advocating for the older or vulnerable adult. Give us a call and we can discuss your individual needs. If the person needing care cannot be directly involved in the decision making we will still try to find ways to make sure their voice is heard and they have a say in this major life decision.

If special needs come up during the transition process, can you refer me to the right professionals?

Yes. We have excellent relationships with many local Seattle area support services related to seniors. If you have the need for an elder law attorney, financial planner, mover/organizer, meals for seniors or haircuts etc. we can connect you with whoever you might need from our trusted partner network. And if we don’t have a resource for your needs we can find one.

What hidden tasks can slow the entry into a senior community?

Get started early deciding what to take, leave, give away, donate and throw away. Oh, what a job this can be.  Also, as mentioned earlier make an appointment with your primary care doc to sign physician’s orders for your medications and supplements and to sign a POLST form. If moving to an Adult Family Home you will need a nursing assessment and care plan. Another hold-up can be the requirement for tuberculosis (TB) testing. The CDC recommends that people moving to a communal setting undergo TB testing, within 30 days of the anticipated move. 

What are some of the things you can search by in the Silver Age database?

Taking a beloved pet along for the move is often a must for our clients. Most assisted livings allow dogs and cats under a certain weight limit as long as they are up to date with their vaccinations and their owner can take care of them. Some adult family homes let pets come along even when their owner needs assistance caring for them. We can search by who takes a pet and who doesn’t. Full kitchens with stovetops and ovens are a must for some. We can search by full kitchens. A washer and dryer in the apartment is critical for some, we can search by this. Some places take Medicaid after a certain private pay duration. We can search specifics related to Medicaid pay accepted. These are just a few examples of what we can search in our database.

Have more questions about Senior Care?

Contact us today!