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Ask Jenny: Can I trust what I find online? Jenny Wallis | Thu, Jun 03 2010 04:38 PM

Dear Jenny, I've been searching the internet for information and resources about caring for my dad and I'm finding a lot of referral sites that want my personal information first. It's frustrating trying to search the internet when I keep getting inundated by services I don't want.What I really need at this point is some reliable information. Can you direct me to a reliable source of senior care information?

First, let me start by stating that the challenge you are encountering is unfortunately a very common problem. While the internet has become an excellent source of information, it is primarily an outlet for commerce.

Many clever internet businesses give the impression they are there to offer you valuable information, but only after registering or signing up for something with your personal information. Beware of any internet site that requires you to register first in order to receive the information you are looking for in your search. There are easier ways to gather the information you seek.

Many referral agencies of senior providers and placement services use the guise of luring consumers with the promise of providing useful information on their internet sites as a means to get contact information. They often request the consumer provide some basic information before moving to the next screen for the information that is ultimately sought.

After registering on their site, that consumer is suddenly their "client" for a placement service and their information is sent out to multiple senior providers.

While this won't cost the consumer anything, it is often a source of aggravation as the providers that received the contact as a "referral" start following up with false requests for information, which in fact may never have been requested.

This is not to say the internet isn't a potentially valuable source of information, but it can be very time consuming and highly inefficient.

Find a service provider in your area and visit them personally if you want reliable information that is both relevant to your situation and to your geographical location.

Assisted living communities are a great starting point, even if that's not the service you are seeking. You will be surprised at not only how knowledgeable they will be with the various services and programs in your area, but also how willing they will be to provide you with valuable information.

The management teams at these communities are not only experts in their field, but they network with all the other service providers in the area and know the resources available.

Using your local experts is the most efficient way to seek information on senior services, programs and other useful information. Besides, how likely is an out-of-state internet provider to know the specific resources available in your immediate area?

If you have questions about senior care or helping an elderly loved one, contact Jenny Wallis, Community Marketing Director at Villa Bonita Senior Living at 619-739-4400 or by e-mail at villabonitamkg2@islllc.com.Villa Bonita Senior Living is an assisted living community licensed by the California Department of Social Services, located at 3434 Bonita Road, Chula Vista, CA 91910. You can also visit Villa Bonita online at www.villabonitaseniorliving.com.

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