The Caregiving Soul:

Transitioning to Senior Community Living

Hosted by Dannelle LeBlanc, December 12, 2022

Dannelle speaks with Olia Davis, a Certified Senior Advisor. In this episode, Olia shares what we need to know about the difficult decision-making process of finding the right senior care facility for your loved one and the resources available to help make these decisions. Olia and Dannelle also talk about how to empower our seniors to take part in seeking out the right care community for them.

“When she moved her to a residential care home, now when she comes, she is spending time with her grandmother. She doesn’t have to worry about all those other things… it’s a completely different interaction. It’s no longer task oriented. It’s more emotional because all that stress and all those other things you have to worry about are gone.” – Olia Davis


  • 02:26 – Olia’s three core values and how they connect to working with older adults and caregiving 
  • 04:06 – Signs that a senior may need more help with care and possibly a community care living situation 
  • 07:05 – Having conversations with loved ones about moving to a senior living facility 
  • 10:19 – Finding the right community for your loved one 
  • 17:41 – Support for caregivers of seniors 
  • 20:36 – Options for affording care for seniors 
  • 24:21 – The benefits of long-term care facilities 
  • 26:48- What Olia is passionate about outside of her work with older adults and families 

Takeaway Learnings

  1.  A hard decision, like moving a loved one to a care facility, begins with a conversation involving everyone concerned. Moving is known to be one of the most stressful life transitions. So, even when we make care decisions for someone who isn’t independently capable, including them in the process whenever, and to the extent, possible helps make better choices and lessens the stress of transition.

  2. Take time to understand the different options to make a more informed decision with your loved one, when possible, about what kind of community makes sense based on current and future level of care needs, cost, location, staff, and community policies, and other factors that may be important to your loved one’s quality of life.

  3. Consulting a senior care advisor can help narrow the field of best options that work for your situation with less stress. 

Actionable Tips

  1. We can’t always check in in person, so it’s important to be aware of potential signs that a loved one needs more help if they live alone or have infrequent visitors. Some of those warning signs may include: weight loss, a change in hygiene habits, memory loss, unpaid bills, or unopened mail, and increased isolation.

  2. The considerable cost of care is a key variable for most of us when choosing a senior community. It’s important to fully review, as best we can, what financial resources and benefits may be available to help cover the cost of both in-home and community care, such as Veterans Aid and Attendance, long term care insurance, personal savings, or other resources. A good place to learn about financial options for long term care is paying for

  3. [00:46:00] Navigating eligibility and applying for potential care benefits can be complicated. So, it’s wise to seek guidance from a professional, like a financial advisor specializing in long-term care, a VA pensions manager, a benefits counselor at your local Area on Aging, or other long-term care professional. 

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Additional Resources



About Olia Davis

Olia Davis is a Certified Senior Advisor with Oasis Senior Advisors based in McKinney, TX. Prior to working in senior advising, she had a career in telecommunications. As a Senior Living Advisor, Olia works with families to find the right senior living facility for their loved one.


[00:00:00] [Music] 

[00:00:06] Olia: When she moved her to a residential care home, now when she comes, she is spending time with her grandmother. She doesn’t have to worry about all those other things. So, she’s coming and she’s doing a puzzle with her, they’re having a snack together, they may be reading or listening to music, but it’s a completely different interaction. It’s no longer task oriented. It’s more emotional because all that stress and all those other things you have to worry about are gone.  

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[00:00:34] Dannelle (Recorded): Hello and welcome to The Caregiving Soul. The Caregiving Soul podcast is a series of conversations about what it’s like to care for loved ones in need and how we can better navigate the relationship and the physical, emotional, and logistical complications we encounter as partners in care.  

[00:00:58] I’m your host Dannelle LeBlanc. 

[00:01:03] [Music Ends] 

[00:01:03] Today we’re speaking with Olia Davis. She’s a Certified Senior Advisor with Oasis Senior Advisors based in Frisco, Texas. Prior to working in senior advising, she had a career in telecommunications. As a senior advisor, Olia works with families to find the right community residence when more care is needed.  

[00:01:21] Today with Olia, we’ll discuss what we need to know about this difficult decision-making process of finding the right senior care facility for our loved one, and the resources available to help make these decisions. We’ll also talk about how to empower our seniors to take part in seeking out the right care community.  

[00:01:46] [Music]   

[00:01:47] Welcome to Olia Davis.   

[00:01:53] [Music Ends]   

[00:01:53] Dannelle: Oh my goodness, it’s just so good to see your face, Olia. Thank you so much for joining us.   

[00:01:28] Olia: Oh, you’re welcome. Glad to see you too. 

[00:02:02] Dannelle: For our audience, just to let you know, Olia and I are friends on a personal level and we were introduced because we are both Certified Senior Advisors and part of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and connected years ago. 

[00:02:21] I’d love for our audience to get to know a little bit more about you and what brought you to where you are now working with families and primarily older adults. Can you share a little bit about what your three core values are and how do they connect to working with older adults and caregiving for you? 

[00:02:37] Olia: Sure. So, my three core values are compassion, knowledge and integrity. When families are going through the period where they need to provide more care for their loved ones, it’s really stressful and overwhelming. Most of them have never done this before. This is a new experience for them. They need to work with individuals that have the knowledge of the senior living industry, but also knowledge of other related needs. 

[00:03:06] For example, I’m working with a family right now that is looking into assisted living, but while I’m working with them, they’re really not ready to make that move. So, we discuss home care, but we also start looking at downsizing and all these other things that have to come together. Knowledge and having referral sources and knowing what’s needed is really important for what I do. 

[00:03:33] Dannelle: I’m so glad you brought that up. That is a really important point. Knowledge about all of the associated challenges and concerns that families have when they come to you. And they’re starting to consider the possibility of a move to a community care home setting. Like the downsizing – that’s huge because a lot of times there’s that pre-transition, that happens before someone actually needs to make a bigger change. What are some of the signs that indicate more help is needed? 

[00:04:10] Olia: You probably know this, but 70% of seniors want to age in place. They want to stay at home, but reality is it isn’t always safe to stay at home. And there are signs that families can look for. One is signs of weight loss. There may be enough food in the house, but the senior may not be eating or not getting enough nutrition. 

[00:04:32] It’s important to stay on top of their weight and make sure they’re getting the nutrition they need. And then there’s hygiene. When was the last time they took a shower? Are they wearing the same clothes day after day? Is the shower safe for them? Are they afraid of showering because they’re afraid of falling? And we see more and more seniors doing less because they’re afraid of falling. Safety is a big issue. When you live in a house, you have a lot of maintenance issues. Are they taking care of those little things that need to get done? Are they paying their bills? 

[00:05:05] A big one is loss of memory, whether that’s short term or long term. And there just may be little signs. And a lot of us contribute that to aging. I often say, I don’t remember this because I’m older, but there are signs of moving in the direction of having some cognitive issues. There’s also signs of demeanor changes. Emotions change during the day. They may be sad one minute, disappointed the next, irritated the third. All of these are signs that something is going on. 

[00:05:38] One of the other indications that’s important is how eager is the individual to see their friends? Are they still going to church? Do they want to go to church? Do they want to go to their family for a dinner? Are they isolating themselves? All of those things are important. A lot of families do a really good job of calling their loved ones, but they ask questions like, “how are you doing? Did you have something to eat? Did you take your medication?” And the senior doesn’t want to burden their kids, so of course the answer is, “yes, I’m fine”. One of the important messages that I can get across is we have to have eyes on our seniors. If you live out of state, if you live farther away, you need to have someone stop in and see what’s going on. 

[00:06:24] I have a lot of families that call me at the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, ‘cause they’ve just seen their loved one and oh my God, they didn’t realize the changes because when they talked to them on the phone, everything was okay. All these little things add up and they add up slowly, but that’s a good indication that something needs to change. 

[00:06:49] Dannelle: Having those eyes on a regular basis, whether it’s our own eyes or it’s someone else’s so that we can identify those changes in emotion, in memory, in weight, hygiene, all of these things. Obviously, the next thing is having a conversation with our loved one, which is really, really difficult because just as our loved one, or the person that we are providing care for, doesn’t want to oftentimes burden us, on the flip side, for us, we can be hesitant. We don’t want to invade someone’s, our loved one’s, privacy. We want to respect their autonomy and ability to make independent choices. Oftentimes we just kind of fall into avoiding having the conversation. What recommendations do you have? What are the important considerations when we have that conversation about potentially moving to a senior living facility? 

[00:07:56] Olia: I think it’s important to not make this decision on their own. A lot of families get together, and they start to talk about where mom should go. It’s important to involve the loved one in those decision-making conversations, because people don’t want to change, they don’t want to move, sometimes a family has to make those decisions for them.  

[00:10:19] But some of the important things that you have to look at when you’re thinking of making the change – one is financial. What is the budget? What’s the availability of funds to make the change? What other sources do you have to tap into? Because that’s going to determine what options you have. The other thing you have to talk about is the levels of care. What kind of care do they need? Can a community take care of those needs? 

[00:08:47] All of these things are points that have to be discussed when you’re looking at moving to a senior living community location is another one. When you’re looking at moving, sometimes the children aren’t where the senior is. Does the senior stay in the city that they are, where they feel comfortable or do you move them closer to son, the daughter, the grandchildren?  

[00:09:10] Lifestyle is something you have to look at. A lot of times the family is the one that is looking at these communities. They’re touring the communities. They’re looking for things that they would like. They go into that community and they say, “I really like this. I like the rooms. I like the atmosphere”, but reality is they’re not gonna live there. 

[00:09:28] Sometimes our parents are looking for something completely different. We have to get our loved ones involved in any kind of decision so that they are making the choice. Sometimes you have to give them choices to get them to make a decision.  

[00:09:45] Dannelle: That’s huge. What feels like a good choice for us isn’t necessarily what feels like home for our loved one. Asking those questions, like what makes you feel at home? And you mentioned location as well, which seems like a no brainer, but the difference between half an hour and 10 to 15 minutes is really significant when you anticipate visiting on a regular basis. Location is huge.  

[00:10:19] As a professional who helps families and older adults find the right community, you have access to additional information that we as a family member might not have. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?  

[00:10:37] Olia: In order to provide the proper help to our families, I really need to know my communities. What kind of care they provide? What’s their pricing structure? What are the caregivers like?  

[00:10:49] Sometimes when I am working with a family, once I determine what their budget is, what their care levels are, what they’re looking for, suddenly my list of a hundred communities narrows down to five. And the more information I get, I can narrow it down to maybe two or three. And that’s important because this is very overwhelming to our families. But if I know the community, if I know their pricing structure, if I know what care they provide, you may have someone that has sliding scale insulin, not all communities do that. 

[00:11:24] Why would I give them options that don’t provide that level of care because that’s not gonna meet their needs? The more I know about the community, the more I know about care levels and the pricing, the more I can help the families get through this with less stress.  

[00:11:41] Dannelle: Yes, absolutely. And you are aware of the history of that particular community, not only when it comes to staff, but potential incidents or amenities, things like that. 

[00:11:57] You mentioned the overwhelm that we feel as family members trying to navigate what for most of us is completely unfamiliar. Most of us would go online and type in whatever search words, and we end up getting inundated with a lot of options that don’t work for our particular situation. And so, I just want to emphasize that about using caution when providing any of your personal information online. You can oftentimes just bypass that additional stress when you work with a senior advisor. 

[00:12:39] You mentioned also, Olia, the different types of care levels – for most of us, when we start this search, we don’t know to ask that question. We don’t know that even exists. [Laughs] Can you describe the different types of senior living communities and how they relate to the level of care required, or that may be required in future? 

[00:13:06] Olia: There are hundreds of communities out there and they’re all different. And depending on where you are from a care need, there are different communities that will meet those care needs. If someone is independent, they can still do everything for themselves, but they wanna downsize. They want to simplify their lives. They don’t wanna cut the grass anymore. They don’t wanna pay the utility bills anymore. 

[00:13:27] There are senior apartments and there’s independent living. Senior apartments are simply that it’s an apartment that has a minimum age, 55+, 62+. They don’t provide other amenities, but they provide a social interaction among the people living there. 

[00:13:44] The next stage is independent living and there’s a lot more amenities that come with that. They provide meals. One community may provide three meals per day, another one two meals per day, another one may give you meal plans. They provide activities. They may provide transportation. But both of those do not provide any care, and that’s important to know. 

[00:14:07] Assisted living communities provide help with activities of daily living. That’s bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, toileting, and of course, medication management. They help with all of that 24 hours a day, whenever you need that help. They also provide meals, transportation to the doctor or shopping. They clean your apartment. They do your laundry. Some of those communities have nurses on staff. Some have nurses on call. Other communities don’t have a nurse at all.  

[00:14:39] I often tell my families, they don’t feel someone needs care all the time, so they may have someone come in for three hours or two hours. But what happens if that person falls at eight o’clock at night? They’re gonna be on that floor until eight o’clock in the morning or nine o’clock in the morning when somebody shows up. At that point, you have to start thinking, do I need to have them move to somewhere where there’s always caregivers available to help them?  

[00:15:09] The next step up would be memory care. Memory care is assisted living but is for those individuals that have cognitive issues, have advanced dementia. They may be exit seeking where they think they have to go to work, so they’re trying to get out the door. And once they get out the door, they’re gonna get lost. Memory care communities are locked communities. They cater to individuals with cognitive issues that need more direction but they provide all the other care that you get from an activities of daily living. Memory care can be either standalone or they can be part of an assisted living community. 

[00:15:47] Often when I’m dealing with an individual who is looking to move, and they have mild dementia or moderate dementia, they can still successfully live in an assisted living. But what I try to do is encourage families to move to a community that also has memory care, so that if in the future they need memory care, they can transition within the community, and they don’t have to look for a completely new community and environment. Those are some of the things I take into consideration when I’m working with families to find the right fit. 

[00:16:22] In the state of Texas, we also have residential care homes. A residential care home is a home in a residential area. So, we could be your neighbor, someone across the street that has converted it to a care home. They can be licensed or unlicensed. If they’re licensed, they’re licensed the same way as an assisted living. If they’re unlicensed, they have a maximum number of residents that they can have. They have 24-hour caregivers. They provide all the helps with the ADL’s. They provide meals, they clean, they do the laundry. 

[00:15:55] When you’re looking for an assisted living, you really have to look at the individual that you’re placing. Would they feel more comfortable in a smaller environment of three to five people, or do they need to be in a larger community where they have their own apartment, but they have a lot of interaction with a hundred other individuals? So, when they go down to eat, they’re going to a dining room. And there’s a place for both of those. It really, really depends on the individual, whether they’re social, what kind of care they need and where they would feel safer. 

[00:17:32] Dannelle: Even best-case scenario, it’s really, really stressful. We’re so worried about making the wrong decision. What questions can we ask to help determine quality of care?  

[00:17:46] Olia: When you’re looking at communities, there’s a couple questions you can ask. One is what is the staff to resident ratio? You want to find out that ratio during the day and at night. What that means is if you have 20 residents and you have two caregivers on staff, then your ratio is 10 to one, one caregiver to every 10 people, or if they have four it’s lower than that. That’s one thing you need to understand because that’s gonna determine how fast or how much care you can actually get. 

[00:18:18] Another thing I have my families always ask is what’s the average response time? If a community doesn’t know what their average response time is, you have to worry about that because if someone pulls the cord at three o’clock and no one gets there for half an hour, how is that ever going to improve if nobody knows that’s happening? You want to know your average response time. Now, sometimes it may be longer, but you want a community that’s tracking that.  

[00:22:36] You also want to know what’s included in your care costs. One community may have six levels of care. Another one may have three levels of care. And there’s different things included in those levels. One of the other important things is communications with that community. You want to know that you can pick up the phone, call someone and ask a question about your loved one, and that they’re gonna have that answer, or be able to get that to you. 

[00:19:13] One thing I recommend to all my families is: don’t assume. Always get to know the employees because you know yourself, if you meet someone and you get to know them and you know them by name and you interact with them daily, they are going to be more responsive to you. So, if you call, they’re gonna call you back. Someone calls you and you don’t know who they are, you may not call them back for three hours, but if it’s Susie who you talked to yesterday and you saw the day before, there’s more of a chance that you’re going to be more receptive to that call and get the information that you want.  

[00:19:51] Dannelle: Yes. Building that relationship, introducing yourself, getting to know the staff members also gives us a feel for what it’s gonna be like for a loved one there. It’s two-fold. Olia, you were talking about the differences in cost of care, depending on the level of care being received in the community, and obviously this is a huge factor for many of us in whether or not we even consider a senior living community at all. Or which one we may choose. It may be that, okay, this one that’s 10 minutes away is the best fit in every way, except for the out-of-pocket cost. Can you talk to us a little bit about our options to help pay for the cost of care?  

[00:20:44] Olia: The first thing I want to mention is when we talked about most assisted living have levels of care, there are a few communities in the area that are all inclusive. What that means is that there’s no levels of care. The price you come in at is the price that you’re going to pay even if your care increases.  

[00:21:03] Those are good options for those individuals who are on a strict budget, they can only spend $4,000, they can’t go a penny over $4,000 because they just don’t have it. Finding an all-inclusive community, or residential care home because residential care homes don’t have levels of care, they’re all inclusive. The prices for the all-inclusive – they may go up from a cost-of-living perspective on a yearly basis, but they’re not going to go up significantly from a care perspective. That is one option you have when you’re trying to manage your funds. 

[00:21:38] Now, unfortunately, most long-term care is private pay. You’re using your social security, your pension, the sale of your home, your 401k. But there are some other options you have available for you. For example, if you’re a veteran, there’s a program called VA Aid and Attendance, you can apply for that. There is long-term care insurance. There’s also some life insurance that you can convert to pay for your care. 

[00:22:07] If you have long-term care, it is so important that you understand what the terms and conditions of that long term care contract is. I’ve had a client that I worked with – looked at assisted living. They found a place that they wanted. They were happy. They were ready to put a deposit down. They called their long-term care policy provider, and guess what? The long-term care policy only covered nursing homes, not assisted living. 

[00:22:36] Those are huge things that you need to know upfront so that you’re making the right decision and using that long-term care policy most efficiently. If you can get someone to review your policy, and there’s companies out there that will do a complimentary review, that will tell you if there’s anything you have to be concerned about, because sometimes you may get on the call with a long-term care policy holder, and you may say something that may delay you getting paid because you didn’t know not to say that. For whatever the reason is, know how that long-term care policy works. 

[00:23:13] Now when all else fails and you have no income, you have no assets left, you’ve used everything up, your option at that point is Medicaid, and Medicaid is a state federal program where they will pay for long-term care. One thing to know is number one – you have to apply for long- care. There’s an asset and an income level, and there’s also a five year look back period. But you also need to know that the assisted living communities that you see when you’re driving down the street, do not have Medicaid beds.  

[00:23:46] When you’re in Medicaid, you’re going to be moving to a community that is state-owned it’s not that you go on Medicaid and you have all the availability out there that you see. It really becomes limited to those places that have Medicaid. 

[00:24:03] Dannelle: In all these scenarios what stands out is that this takes planning ahead of time. It’s important that we don’t wait to find out the answer. You mentioned one of your core values being knowledge. [Laughs] 

[00:24:21] Olia, I’m curious about when we’re considering this type of huge life transition, then the stress of it can overwhelm the potential benefits that happen when our loved one is in an environment where we know that they’re safe. They can feel more comfortable because they don’t have to worry about cooking or the maintenance, those sorts of things. There are huge benefits. It’s not just, “okay, well, we just need to make sure that someone’s there when and if they fall.” Can you tell us about a time when a family or older adult client of yours shared with you the benefits of what it was like once they made this move?  

[00:25:11] Olia: I just recently actually had a client where I moved her grandmother to a residential care home. I was so impressed with her because she was so in control. She was so organized. When she went to her grandmother’s she knew what she was gonna bring. She helped her in every possible way, but she did it in a very controlled manner. Cause a lot of caregivers are stressed out. For some reason, she was very controlled. But when she went to visit her grandmother, she was doing all of that. She was cleaning the room, she was making sure she ate something. 

[00:25:47] All her thoughts were about tasks when she got there. When she moved her to a residential care home, now when she comes, she is spending time with her grandmother. She doesn’t have to worry about all those other things. So, she’s coming and she’s doing a puzzle with her, whether grandma can see, but they’re doing something together. They’re having a snack together. They may be reading or listening to music, but it’s a completely different interaction. It’s no longer task-oriented. It’s more emotional because all that stress and all those other things you have to worry about are gone. 

[00:26:22] Dannelle: That’s it right there. A lot of times we feel guilty, we feel bad, there are so many negative connotations associated with helping a loved one to move into assisted living or memory care, what have you. Remember that, right there. We’ll have more opportunities to spend quality time and focus on our relationship, instead of all the tasks. 

[00:26:48] Olia, can you tell us a little bit about a part of your life that you are passionate about outside of what you do for a living, working with older adults and families?  

[00:26:59] Olia: I’ve always enjoyed quilting. That’s where I go to relax and to let everything in my life drop. Because when I’m focused on quilting, I’m not thinking about anything else, all my focus goes to that. Plus, it’s not that task oriented. It’s more creative for me. It’s a creative outlet. I really love to quilt and I wish I had more time to do it, but sometimes it’s a matter of making the time to do it as opposed to having the time to do it.  

[00:27:29] Dannelle: Oh, I love that. I didn’t know that about you. I didn’t know that you were a quilter. I really admire that because it’s just an amazing skill. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Olia. It was so good to see you.  

[00:27:46] Olia: Oh, you’re welcome. And it’s good to see you. You provide such a valuable service to our caregivers and our families.  

[00:27:53] Dannelle: Thank you, right back to you.  

[00:27:55] Olia: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. 

[00:27:57] [Music]  

[00:28:00] Dannelle (Recorded): Thank you for joining our conversation with Olia. Olia talks about the overwhelm of finding the right community residents, especially without guidance from someone who understands how stressful the process is, as well as the different options available. 

[00:28:19] For more information on Olia, check out our show notes.  

[00:28:24] Every episode of The Caregiving Soul has a page on, where you can find the extended show notes – including tips and takeaways, transcripts, and relevant resource links.    

[00:28:39] If you’d like to share your own tips related to this topic or connect with us, visit the Empowered Us Contact page or reach out to us on our social channels.    

[00:28:51] The Caregiving Soul is an Empowered Us Original presented by Good Days, hosted by me, Dannelle LeBlanc. If you liked this episode, be sure to rate and subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcasts.    

[00:29:09] And remember, the right care includes care for you.  

[00:29:20] [Music Ends] 

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