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Why You Need To Start Investing In Residential Assisted Living With Isabelle Guarino-Smith

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted Living


Have you looked into residential assisted living options for your loved ones? Did you know that rather than spending thousands, you could be the one earning and producing cashflow, all while having your senior relatives receive the best care? That’s what investing in residential assisted living is! Isabelle Guarino-Smith, COO of Residential Assisted Living Academy, is here to elaborate on this win-win-win approach to caring for your aging loved ones. She joins Moneeka Sawyer to share how she first started looking into assisted living after the need came up in her life. After learning more about the industry, she turned what could’ve been a financial crisis for the family into a massive opportunity. Tune in to this episode filled with incredible insight and information on how you can earn while helping seniors receive the best care possible.

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Why You Need To Start Investing In Residential Assisted Living With Isabelle Guarino-Smith

Real Estate Investing For Women

I am so excited to welcome to the show, Isabelle Guarino-Smith. She is a graduate of Arizona State University, a former flight attendant, a Walt Disney World intern, and now Residential Assisted Living Academy’s leading lady. She has been working as the COO of the company for several years, keeping everyone in line and on task. She’s been featured in many magazines and articles on the topic of senior housing and was given the title of one of the top influencers in senior housing. She also won Aging Media’s Future Leaders of Assisted Living Award in 2020. That’s pretty impressive, Isabelle, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

You had a varied career from flight attendant to Walt Disney World intern. I love that. How did you end up in assisted living?

It’s interesting. For us, it started with family. My grandmother fell, she broke her hip, and the doctor was like, “She can’t go home alone. She needs 24/7 care.” Many of your readers might have been in that same situation themselves with aging loved ones. This happens to almost everybody. This happened to us and it was like, “What do you do? Do you pay for in-home care?” That is incredibly expensive. “Do you quit your job and take care of your loved one full-time?” That’s your full-time thing. I’m not born to be a caregiver, so that didn’t make a lot of sense or you put them into a home.

As soon as you say it, you feel icky. “I can’t do this. This is my beloved grandmother, mom, dad,” or whatever the case may be. For us, it was like, “Let’s find an alternative option. Let’s find something that we are comfortable with.” When we realized it was going to cost $5,000 a month to have her stay in one of these homes, or we did quick math and we are like, “We could make $10,000 a month if we owned the real estate in the business and she could live for free.” It made a whole lot of sense to say, “Let’s get involved on the real estate side, give her the best of the best care, and we get two birds with one stone.” It started with something close to home for me and my family.

We have had to make this decision for my father-in-law. We did end up putting him in a home because he can’t move at all and he’s so big. We can’t lift him. We can’t clean him. It was impossible and there was nobody at home. We are not natural caretakers in the way that they are in these other places, lifting, cleaning, diapers, and all of that stuff. What’s fascinating is that they were originally going to charge us $5,300, but now that he’s in it, it’s costing close to $10,000 because there’s all the added care.

The $5,300 was base care. We had to up-level, ratchet it up because he can’t even get out of bed. We kept ratcheting it up. Now, we moved him to memory care, but then there were other things that are not covered. Sometimes Medicare covers some of this. In our case, it didn’t cover anything, but the other interesting thing was diapers. We are paying $1,000 a month on diapers or a physical trainer to come in so he could continue to move his hands.

He lost the use of his hands so we can no longer feed himself. Now he’s in memory care, but we were trying to have his hands continue to be used, and so we had someone coming in to train him with his hands. That was costing $1,000 a month. It’s amazing once we go down this path what it costs. What an interesting strategy you came up with to deal with that cost. That’s fascinating.

I tell that to people all the time. I say, “What’s the difference between a big box facility and a residential assisted living home?” I say, “One of the things is the cost of care.” When you move in, they tell you it’s going to be a certain dollar amount but you didn’t take the bath on Tuesday. You took it on Saturday and they are like an extra $500 or you tried to run away, an extra $1,000.

They knock things up. You get that first bill and it’s $8,000 and you are like, “What happened, dad? I signed up for $5,300.” I tell people this and they are like, “There’s no way.” I’m like, “Wait until it happens to you. You are going to look for an alternative to say, ‘How can I get this where it’s one flat rate?’ No matter what happens to them, they are getting the best of the best care. Low caregiver to resident ratio, and then if you can own it and be cash flowing and holding that real estate, it’s a win-win.” I say that story all the time. Now I’m going to have to shout you out and say, “For real, it’s happening.”

There were all these little things. They give them a little emergency button that they wear around their neck. As he can’t reach over and pull the cord, so he’s got this little thing around his neck where he kept pushing the cord. He’d like, “I need my cell phone plugged in.” He kept pushing the cord. They started charging us for every single push on that cord. They are like, “We are not supposed to get that push 200 times, but we can’t control him.”

He needs someone there.

That’s right. It was so fascinating. I’m like, “Thank goodness.” I talk all about how money is good. I keep taking such good care of my father-in-law and I’ve been like, “We are not going to yell at him. We are not going to yell at these people that are taking care of him. We are going to try to figure it out.” They were providing diapers for $1,500. We are now ordering them on Amazon with a subscription for $1,000.

We are finding ways to cut back our costs, but we are not so freaked out. It’s not like our budget is going to die because we are doing this thing. It’s interesting what good things money can do for us. That’s all I’m saying. We can take care of the people we love. I’m so excited Isabelle to talk to you because I’m in it.

I was having a conversation with my dad. He’s fallen three times. I’m trying to convince him to use a walker, which he will not do, but then I’m like, “Use a cane.” My dad says to me, “I have lived my life. If I die now, it’s okay.” I’m like, “I’m not worried about you dying even if I don’t want you to die. If you fall down and your quality of life disappears, what is that going to be like for you? Could you please start using a cane or something so you stop falling?” We talk about this for an hour. He says, “I will think about it.”

He takes a fall. What if he breaks something? They don’t heal. Now suddenly, they don’t get to be with their family because they are either stuck in a room. If we could afford care at home, we have got this $10,000 expense for another parent or they are in a home. It’s a difficult thing like what you described. I had this conversation with my dad, “Dad, you need to manage your quality of life. That’s the thing. If you are alive, we would rather you be happy.”

It’s real life. The thing is right now, your dad is in the Silent Generation, not Baby Boomers. In the Silent Generation, there are only 47 million of them. Baby Boomers are 76 million. We are about to double the need for care and we don’t have the systems to be prepared for the silver tsunami. Baby Boomers don’t need assisted living for another 20 to 30 years. It’s their parents who are in it. If we are already 1.3 million beds short, and there are only 43 million and we are expecting 76 million over the next several years, what’s going to happen?

No one is pumping these beds out that fast. It’s a massive crisis or mega opportunity, and it’s something that everyone is going to deal with. It’s either going to be your loved one or your own self lying in the bed, writing a check to somebody else, or you can play the ownership role and take care of your own loved ones and yourself and maybe even leave a blessing or leave a legacy to your own kids. It could be good.

Tell us what is assisted living as you are defining it because you said something about assisted living versus big box. Let’s talk a little bit about that and how you are defining it.

What we teach and train on what we do ourselves is residential assisted living. It’s senior housing but in a residential home, in a single-family neighborhood where there are only 6 to 16 seniors living in that one home usually in private bedrooms and private bathrooms. They have shared common spaces like a living room, dining room, and front room, maybe even a library or hair salon. These are more upscale homes in nice parts of town.

In the home, there’s 24/7 care help with activities of daily living, getting up, walking, bathing, taking medications, eating, or whatever they need. In some of these homes, there’s a private chef but there are always 24/7 caregivers and a licensed administrator who’s running the business. The role we play in that we teach other people to play is that owner’s box.

Owning the real estate and business, not working and living in the home, but owning and operating the business in that sense. It’s different from a big box because it’s not a big commercial facility with hundreds of beds. The resident-to-caregiver ratio is different. The big box facility oftentimes is 15 to 1. If they are telling you it’s lower, ask them if it’s staff or caregivers, because oftentimes they will include staff which means chefs, janitors, front desk, people, and landscapers.

A landscaper is not caring for your dad. They should not be included in the staff-to-resident ratio. It’s the caregiver-to-resident ratio and you can get fifteen people. I can’t take care of fifteen people at one time. I don’t think you can. That’s impossible, so we are setting up those caregivers for failure which is why they are saying, “We are going to charge you more when your dad dings this all the time,” because they don’t have the time and capacity to come to visit him that often.

That’s sad. That’s not okay. We need to give our seniors better quality of care and life. In our homes, it’s usually a 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 ratio. It’s also a much smaller environment, so you can have eyes on the residents at all times. That’s what we teach people to do. It’s still senior housing. It’s an alternative and a real estate investment opportunity for those who are in that world.

We need to give our seniors better quality of care, better quality of life. Share on X

How is this different than a nursing home? We have got the assisted living and the big box and then there’s also the nursing facilities.

A nursing home is typically where doctors, nurses, gurneys, and IVs are. It’s medical. In assisted living, you can be licensed to care for memory care. You can be licensed for respite and hospice, but you can’t be licensed in a physical home to do nursing care. That’s where they do have to transition on to that. Most people will stay in our homes until they pass on to the next life or they will move on to nursing care because their needs are too great for what we are licensed to care for.

It’s more medical. When would someone need that?

It’s when you have had assisted living for enough time and then maybe something happens right where you need to be hooked up to IVs and you need a 24/7 doctor watch on you. It could be health declining. It could be that you had a bad fall. Most people don’t leave our homes. They pass on from our homes. It’s a very small percentage who move to need that level of care, but it ranges. It’s person-to-person based on your health and your needs.

Talk to us a little bit about the business of this. How much money can be made? How is it set up? Tell me a little bit more about that. didn’t even see it as an option when I was doing research on these homes. What I saw were the places that had 55 to 100 rooms. We chose a place with 55. There are active living communities, where there are single-family homes and they are all around them.

There’s this big community area and so they have their party areas, their pool, maybe a golf course close by, maybe an on-campus store or something like that, but they are all living in their own single-family home. Those were the two that I was seeing. Tell me a little bit more about what you are talking about and how the money looks around that.

Where do you live?

At the time, I was living in Campbell, California.

That’s good to know because 61% of assisted living beds are in residential assisted living homes. We are the majority, but no one knows about us because there’s no big sign out front. You could drive by one of these homes and never know it was a care home. You never know that in California, you are allowed to have six residents in a home. Those homes could be a 4-bedroom, 3-bath. That could be a 5-bedroom, 4-bath. It’s not this massive, crazy, huge home. You could have driven right by and never known that it existed. Those solo owners don’t have the marketing dollars that Brookdale, Sunrise, and Atrium have. It’s different.

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted Living

Residential Assisted Living: 61% of assisted living beds are in residential assisted living homes. We are actually the majority, but no one knows about us because there’s no big sign out front.


How do people even find it then?

We created a map called the RAL Home Locator and that’s the website, too, RALHomeLocator.com. There you can see all 30,000 of these homes that exist across the country right now. You would be what we consider a Daughter Judy, the person who’s in charge of their loved one’s care. They are the ones searching for the care, maybe paying for the care, checking in on the care, complaining about the care, praising the care, or whatever it might be.

Daughter Judy will start researching exactly like you did, trying to find homes in the area to see where we should put them. What options are available? There’s an entire industry of people called placement agents who will usually work with families like you to say, “What’s your budget and options?” and then they will pass out business cards. They get paid if you choose one of the homes they send you to. They will try to find a good option for you, but also, they are getting paid for it. It’s not free labor. They might be recommending smaller and bigger homes depending on the needs of your loved one.

There are organizations that will place your loved ones that can help you with that. That’s awesome because I couldn’t even find that when I was looking. I wonder, “Am I lame? Why couldn’t I find this stuff? Do you Google for this?”

Lots on Google. Lots online. This is starting to become a concern for everyone. We are like a baby industry. It’s growing in popularity. Back in the day, it used to be they would come live with you and now people are working two careers in one household and that doesn’t work a lot of times because you’ve got your own kids. It’s the Sandwich Generation.

You’re taking care of your kids. Now you’ve got to take care of them. It’s a lot and it’s not that you don’t want to. It’s not the same as it used to be. We are starting to see a lot more popularity in that. A lot more national and local placement agents are popping up a lot, more online marketing, and things of that nature. It’s going to be red corvette syndrome. Once you’ve been exposed, you start seeing it everywhere.

Tell us a little bit about how the money works with this stuff.

We were saying that the national average to live in one of these homes is $4,500 a month. That’s going to totally range depending on what city,-state, or county you are in. If you are in California, the California state average is $5,250 or something like that, but depending on your county or city, it could be different. Salinas is almost $7,100 on average and Stockton is $3,500. It ranges.

If we did national numbers and we said $4,500 a month per person, in every city or county, you are also allowed to have a different amount of maximum amount of residents. Six to sixteen are the rules in most cities or states, California is six. I’m in Arizona. Ours is ten. If you are in Texas, it’s sixteen. If you are in Florida, it’s twelve. If you are in Jersey, it’s fifteen. It ranges everywhere.

Let’s say we did ten since it’s right in the middle of 6 and 16. $4,500 a month times 10 residents in the home. That’s $45,000 coming in every single month, but you have your expenses, the food, the cable activities, and paying for your staff, all-in expenses, including liability insurance, maintenance, and everything.

Maybe on that home, it might be $30,000 a month, then your debt service. Are you going to lease this home or own this home? Your debt service, your mortgage, and your payment on the property. Let’s say it’s another $5,000. You can get a pretty nice home for $5,000 a month in most parts of the country. That means this one home is netting you as the owner $10,000 a month. That’s just an average home. There are a lot of markets where the average number is a lot higher than that so you are getting more per resident. That’s a quick, easy, or fast example of how to get to that $10,000 a month on one of these homes.

You are saying that you have one caretaker per 4 or 5 residents. When you were talking about all the costs of the staff, that includes everybody. That includes the chef, the activities director, and the gardener.

It includes all of it, but also think it’s a single-family home. You need one landscaper coming once a week, every other week. It’s not a crazy expense. In my own personal home, our landscaper comes every week and I pay them $100. It’s a line item. The chef is the same thing. In some of these homes, the caregivers do the cooking and that’s what they do and what they are responsible for caring for the residents and doing the cooking and cleaning.

In other more high-end homes, we talk about the different levels of homes based on where the home is, what amenities you have within the home, and things of that nature. A level 3 or level 4 home would not have a private chef. The caregivers would more than likely be doing the cooking, but a level five home probably would have a chef.

My nicest home, we have got a chef there who does made-to-order breakfast and fresh lunch for them and then cooks the dinner. He’s out the door by noon. The caregivers at night warm up whatever he prepared for dinner so that it’s ready to go, but they don’t have a chef there. There are different amenities for different homes. Because of those amenities, the residents are going to be charged different amounts.

The level of care also plays a heavy role in how much the resident is paying. When we say the average in the home is $4,500 a month, you might have someone like your dad who’s paying $9,000 or $10,000 in the home, and you might have someone who’s paying $3,000 in the home and other people in the 4 to 5 range, and so an average is out to about $4,500 a month.

You don’t necessarily want to fill your home with a bunch of high-need clients because that’s going to overwork your staff. A business doesn’t work unless you pay attention to the three legs of the stool, the residents, the staff, and the business. You can’t focus on the business and making money. No. You’ve got to care for the other people involved in this and make sure that all those components are there making sense and working well.

A business doesn't work unless you pay attention to the three legs of the stool: the residents, the staff and the business. Share on X

That’s a lot to think about.

It’s a whole business. If you have one, they could live for free, you could live for free, and you cashflow.

You own the real estate but someone else manages the whole thing and you pay that person.

That’s your licensed administrator. In the real estate world, you could call them your property manager but they are much more than that. They are licensed through the state as medical professionals who are able to care for the residents, but they also might do many other things. Hire and fire your staff. Tour and market your home. They might be in charge of all the other contractors like we were talking about, the chef and landscaper as someone to come over and do activities. They could have whole varied roles and responsibilities for them.

I like to find an administrator. My one administrator oversees all three of my homes. I have one phone call with her a week and I visit the homes every other month. The way we have set it up is passive. In the beginning, it wasn’t that way but we had to start to formulate that and make it become that way. That’s what I like to share with other real estate investors how to do. Most people don’t want to be hands-on in the home doing anything and it’s like, “Not what we do. Not what I want to show you how to do. I want to show you how to do this more passively.”

In the old days, we had real BnBs, not Airbnbs. We had real Bed and Breakfast. There were all these rules and regulations about you having to have a certain kitchen. You had to have a certain number of bathrooms. There were all these rules. I’m assuming that you can’t get a big house and turn it into a senior living without following all regulations. There’s got to be other stuff. Talk to us a little bit about that.

There are rules and regulations and I love that because you don’t want anybody getting into this industry. We want quality people who are willing to jump through hoops, have the right heart, have the right passion and are going to care for our seniors. These are people’s lives. I’m totally okay with rules and regs. In every state, these homes need to be licensed. The physical home has a license. It’s mostly based on senior safety.

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted Living

Residential Assisted Living: There are rules and regulations because you don’t want just anybody getting into this industry. We want quality people who are willing to jump through hoops, who have the right heart, the right passion and are going to care for our seniors.


The home does not have to be ADA-compliant, but it needs to be as close to that as possible. Meaning wider hallways and doorways ramps, and guardrails, maybe fire suppression or sprinklers, different things of that nature to make it safe for the seniors. If you have to be Tom Cruise to get out of the house, it’s not senior safe. We want to make sure they are safe. That’s a priority.

The physical home will have a license. The state requirements are a pretty bare minimum. Most states say 80 to 100 square feet per person. That is tiny. That’s not okay. Our rule of thumb is 300 to 500 square feet per person. If you are going to have ten people in the home minimum of 3,000 square foot home, upwards of 5,000 is much more comfortable.

Most of these seniors are going to want a private bedroom and a private bathroom. You are going to have a hard time finding a 10-bedroom, 10-bath home on the market, but you can buy a 5 or 6-bedroom home and convert it to become. There are four ways you could get into the industry, and one of them is buying a single-family home and converting it to become. All of our homes are 10-bedroom, 10-bath, but they didn’t start that way. They started 5 or 6 bedrooms and we converted them and now they have those ten bedrooms.

Using the space a little bit differently, but whatever the state says, we go above that. Make this nice and comfortable because the seniors deserve it. If they are going to be paying a pretty penny, they are going to be comparing you to the other homes where they are getting a private bedroom and private bath. You need to be able to supply that.

When you were talking about this, let’s say we buy a 5-bedroom, 4-bath single-family home. They are quite a lot of them here, but they all have lots of stairs. I was thinking of one that’s on the market close to my house here in Sacramento. It used to be San Jose. All of the houses are like these old, beautiful Victorians or craftsman.

I live in a craftsman which is fun, but there are so many stairs and the hallways are narrow. People were much smaller in those days. Talk to me about what does that look like? How do you find these places? What do you do if you are in a situation where the only houses that are coming on the market are heavy in the stairs, narrow hallways, and that type of thing?

You can add chairlifts and elevators. You are going to need something because the seniors typically cannot climb the stairs at that point. The thin hallways are tough because unless you are going to knock down the house and redo it, there’s sometimes not much you can do when you have a historic home like that, and you don’t want to take away the beauty of the way it was built. There’s some history in that and you don’t want to remove that.

Honestly, I would say that probably in those types of homes might not be the right fit because you would prefer ranch style. You would prefer a single level. We have a guy in Jersey who’s got a four-story home. On the East Coast, everyone’s got a basement. He is got a nice big built-out basement, two stories, and a full third story up there that’s stunning. He added in a residential elevator. It’s $30,000 but it’s a one-time fee that you pay. If you are going to be making that back, that home, he cashflows $40,000 a month because all his people are paying over $8,000 and he has 15 people in that home. All private bedrooms and private bathrooms, it’s stunning.

I would say it might not be the right fit because of the style of homes there unless you can add in a chairlift or an elevator and those stairs. I don’t know how well they do with the chairlift and the homes because they are so tight that sometimes an elevator might not work either unless it was the perfect property. Going a little bit outside of town where you have ranches, where you have more land, and where you have that capability, Daughter Judy only wants to drive a certain distance from where she lives.

Find out the demographic research on 50 to 70-year-olds who are in the upper middle class and own their home, where do they live, eat, work, sleep, and play. We want to put the residential assisted living home right near them because they don’t want to drive 45 minutes to go see mom or dad. They want to go right on their way home from work. Doing that demographic research is a great place to start, and then finding those properties that already lend themselves to this.

Doing that demographic research is a great place to start. Share on X

How far does Daughter Judy drive usually?

They say that usually, they want to be within a 5 to 10-minute radius of them. The 5 to 10-minute radius in Oklahoma is completely different than in LA. Depending on where they live, that could look very different but most Daughter Judys want to be close. Can I ask how far are you from your dad?

This is an interesting story. This is my father-in-law. We have lived down in the Bay Area for many years so we have been close to him. My parents were two and a half hours away in Sacramento. When we moved him into his home, he was 25 minutes away and it was a bear because we were so busy. I work at home, but still at the end of the day, driving down there, you are hitting all the traffic.

For twenty-five minutes, we thought, “This is nothing. It’s fine.” We did a bunch of research. We found three places that we liked and we let my father-in-law pick. He gets to have some say in this. We visited the different places and he picked this place and we were like, “He likes this place. Twenty-five minutes.” It was so hard for us to get down there more than once a week, and it felt terrible.

Now, we have moved to Sacramento to be close to my parents. Now I’m 15 minutes away from my parents, and 2.5 hours away from him. We are looking at moving him up to Sacramento with us, but he’s in hospice. That’s another whole long story. Now I live fifteen minutes away from my dad. When he was at his home, it was 25 minutes and you are right. We couldn’t figure it out, trying to get all of us there together. If I could go one day, my husband could go a different day, but getting the two of us there together with the traffic and all of that stuff was hard.

It’s a lot harder than people think. When we talk about a location for residential assisted living, I always tell people, “The first key is finding out the demographics of the area because they are the decision-makers more than likely. They want mom or dad near them.” It’s like, “I don’t care if you have the perfect house, if it is not near the right demographic, it won’t work.”

What they are looking for is always price, proximity, service amenities, and then the feel when they walk in. How do they feel in their heart, mind, and soul? Is my parent or my loved one going to be safe here? Are they going to be comfortable here? There’s a real feel to a lot of these and sometimes you walk in and you are like, “No.”

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted Living

Residential Assisted Living: What they’re looking for is always price, proximity and service amenities, and the feel when they walk in.


I did that. I was like, “No. This is not going to work.”

Sometimes you walk in and you are like, “I can live here. This is pretty nice. I could do this.” You want to have that wow factor and that feeling when they walk in. You want to make them feel comfortable, and that is one of the perks and benefits of residential assisted living. It’s a home. It’s not home-like. It’s a literal home. We grew up in homes. Who doesn’t want to stay in a home? This is pretty much the only option besides in-home care which is super expensive.

Tell us a little bit about how we can take advantage of this and how we can learn more.

We teach and train people how to do this because I do it myself, and then we teach people how to do this. We have three-day training events there in Phoenix, Arizona, but we also have online courses. If anybody wants to get started for free, check it out. We have got webinars and free books at RAL101.com where you can learn the four different ways you could get started in this.

You could learn the three smartest options for you to participate in. Maybe it’s as a lender. Maybe it’s owning the real estate or the real estate and the business. We go through all those options and then the five keys to success. You can learn and know all more about that on RAL 101. We are going to stick around for your special readers and dive deep. I’m excited to be able to share with them a little bit more too.

What would you like to share in EXTRA? We didn’t decide beforehand because she was like, “You are going to have questions,” but I have got so many questions. It’s hard to narrow them down. I like the four different ways to get started doing a deep dive on that. You’ve mentioned something. What did you say?

We said 4 smartest ways and 3 options to participate depending on what role they want to take, and then the 5 keys to success. I could do either on anyone.

I wish I could get your input on this. Let’s get the ways to get started. I hope I picked the right one. In EXTRA, we are going to talk about the ways to get started in this industry. It’s in her URL. You can go there for all of their trainings and all of that information also. In EXTRA, we will be talking about how to get started in this business. That was so amazing. Such great information. Is there anything else you want to add before we move into our three rapid-fire questions?

You are going to get involved with this one way or another. At this point, you have an option on how you want to participate because like me and you, a lot of times you get slapped upside the head with this and it hits you and you’ve got to deal with it right now and figure it out. It’s not like this, “My mom might need this in 20 or 30 years.” It happens and it happens quickly, and then all of a sudden you are like, “What do we do?”

You're going to get involved with this one way or another. At this point, you have an option on how you want to participate. Share on X

Les Brown always says, “Be prepared for opportunities.” I like to educate myself as much as I possibly can so that when the opportunity arises, I’m ready to take action. I encourage everybody reading, all the ladies, if this is ringing a bell to you, to be prepared for that opportunity. Start educating yourself. Start getting prepared. Whether it is you investing in someone else’s, owning your own, or learning about those options. If and when you are a loved one ever needs this, you know what to do, or else you are going to be scrambling and it’s a scary time of stressful time. There are so many emotions. Start educating yourself and getting prepared. That’s my best advice.

There were some thoughts that came to me as you were talking. It’s been hard for us to think about putting our parents in a home. I’m Indian. In our culture, in the Eastern cultures, we traditionally don’t do that. What’s also true is that in Eastern cultures, there was someone responsible to take care of the parent and the parent still did not always get the best care.

In our case, we couldn’t lift him. He’s 250 pounds. There was no way that any one of us that was dedicated to this could. My sister lives at home with my parents, but even living at home with my parents, if one of them were to go completely down, she can’t physically lift them to clean them, change diapers, change the bed, and do all of those things.

It’s not a matter of whether we don’t love them. I only work 5 to 10 hours a month. I tell people, “What are you doing with your time? Why are you not taking care of your parents?” I have felt guilt around that, and I know that a lot of women will and the truth is I am not capable of giving him the care a professional would.

I would rather have someone come in-house, but you talk about it being hugely expensive. When we were looking at the cost, even at the $10,000 a month that we are paying now, had we done the cheapest in-home care and we would not have hired the cheapest, the cheapest would have been $15,000 a month.

We were going to have to remodel parts of the house to make it possible because he needed to be able to get into the shower so we are talking about another $50,000 expense. If we were to get him the care we wanted, it was going to be closer to $20,000 to $25,000. That’s the care that he’s getting in the home. We have our hearts in the right place, but we don’t realize how difficult things can become.

The other thing that is a very difficult conversation to have with the elderly is long-term care. My parents have long-term care, but I’m very aware of the fact that my father-in-law thought he had long-term care. He thought he was going to be covered by Medicare. He thought all of these different things, but there are a whole series of rules where we get no help, not even a single dime. Nothing.

My parents have long-term care, but the long-term care will not cover things like diapers, physical therapy, or personal trainer. There are also big rules about that. There are going to be lots of out-of-pocket things that come up that you need to be prepared for even if they have got long-term care. I have got six parents that we are going to be looking at with this stuff. What have you set up for this situation? My father-in-law did think that he had enough cash to cover him, but nobody anticipated the cost, and so he did not. We ran out after the first year. Those are some things to think about.

The other thing that was interesting as you were talking is in these homes, one of the things that you can do that’s cool is to make it a cultural home. For instance, all of us Indians put our parents together because they have so much in common. They can do their pujas together. They can play teen patti together.

Certain cultures have things that they do and they want to do it with people that understand. They don’t want to have to be explaining their culture with every little thing that they do or say, their idioms, or the way they take their walks in the morning. We have got a Chinese home close by. I have been looking for an Indian one in case I need it.

You could also do cultural ones. It’s not segregating. It’s allowing them to feel a little bit more at home like they have got people that understand them in those later years of their lives. If you could do a home that’s only 6 or 10 people, you are much more likely to be able to build a community that’s more culturally sensitive. Would you agree with me on that?

100% and I always tell people that we have a home here in Arizona called Shalom Home. It focuses on the Jewish culture. They eat kosher food, they celebrate the Jewish holidays, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing. I always encourage our students, “Don’t be afraid of niching down. If you want to do a home that’s vegan, fantastic. Do you know how many Daughter Judys are going to be so excited to put their mom or dad in a vegan home?”

Whatever it is, it could be religion. It could be ethnicity. It could be all women or all men. Whatever you want to do, you can do that because you are going to appease someone’s need. Let’s be real. As people age, a lot of people who are aging right now in America maybe weren’t born here or maybe didn’t grow up here. There are a lot of times when you start having memory issues, you go back to your native tongue, your first language.

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted Living

Residential Assisted Living: Don’t be afraid of niching down. It could be religion, ethnicity, all women, all male, whatever you want to do, you can do that because you’re going to appease someone’s need.


It’s hard when someone’s taking care of them who doesn’t understand that or doesn’t get it. Now they are getting frustrated with each other because I love niched homes. You can totally do it and a ton of our students do those specialty homes and it’s such a fun way to meet an important need in society and in culture. You would be happy to be paying what you are paying if he was in a home that had only five other residents, he had eyes on him at all times, and it was an Indian-centric focused home. You would be excited about that. You would be like, “I will write that check.”

They are all watching Indian movies and they are playing the Indian cable station. They are playing Indian music over dinner and all of those things. It makes them feel so much more at home. There are lots of red everywhere because Indians love their red. The china looks a certain way. My dad and I have talked a little bit about this. One or the other of them go, we are fully aware that there could be these possibilities. He has said over and over again, “I don’t know that being an elderly man, I want to restart full relationships in an environment where people don’t understand me at all.”

It’s a valid fear. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to provide that. One of the blessings about being in this industry is that there’s a lot of cashflow, but our company motto is to do good and do well because you can make a massive impact on people’s lives. When you have these families who are grateful and thankful for the services that you are offering because they truly know it’s better than what they are ever going to get anywhere else, you feel good about that.

To me, making an impact in the world is important and valid. Being able to provide that to your community is a beautiful thing even if it starts selfishly with, ”I want it for my family.” Who cares? It’s going to grow into something that you are going to bless other Indian families and Indian people as long as that home exists. You pass that home to your kids. They can have that. It’s a contribution to society and that’s a beautiful thing.

Thank you for that. Are you ready for three rapid-fire questions?

I’m ready.

Tell us the super tip on how to get started investing in real estate.

I would say the super tip would be is location. If you want to start this, it’s finding out that prime location so that then you can start getting excited about finding those homes, niching down on the rules and regs and what you are going to do there. Location is key. Find out where the Daughter Judys are who can afford the home and then move from there.

What would you say is one strategy for being successful as a real estate investor?

We have been teaching and training for many years, and the number one quality trait that I see, whether it’s men, women, young, or old, in real estate or not real estate, that they all have in common is grit. People who are willing to get hit in the face, get back up, and do it again. If you are going to be in the real estate world, you better believe that’s going to happen quite a few times if you are going to be in it for the long run. It’s important to have that in your heart and soul. If that’s not you, then that’s fine. For me, the biggest strategy is having a strong passion and sticking to that grit. Keep going and keep trying every single day. Never give up.

The one character trait that they all have in common is grit. People who are willing to get hit in the face and get back up and do it again. Share on X

What is one daily practice that you do that would contribute to your personal success?

I have learned about myself and this might be a little too woo-woo for anybody reading, but for me, I’m like a nature girl. If I don’t spend an hour outside, I go crazy. Especially like working from home or traveling or whatever, a lot of times you are indoors all day and you don’t realize, “Why do I feel icky? Why do I feel off?” I have to spend time outside, feeling the sun, and being outside. I will bring my computer out there and work. That’s fine, but I know what works for me.

I always tell people, “You have to find what works for you. If that’s starting the morning with a walk, then you’ve got to do it.” I learned that I don’t feel right if I don’t spend time outside. Now, it’s part of my daily routine and it helps me re-energize and live my best life. All that I ever want for anybody is to be able to show up 100% themselves.

Thank you for that. Ladies, stay tuned for EXTRA. We are going to be talking about the four different ways to get started in this business. If you are subscribed to EXTRA, stay tuned. If you are not, you can do that by going to RealEstateInvestingforWomenEXTRA.com. For those of you that are leaving us right now, thank you for joining Isabelle and me for this portion of the show. You know how much I appreciate you, and I look forward to seeing you next time until then remember, goals without action are dreams. Get out there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. I will talk to you soon.


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About Isabelle Guarino-Smith

REW Isabelle Guarino-Smith | Residential Assisted LivingIsabelle Guarino is a vibrant young professional with experience beyond her years. Time spent working for Walt Disney World Company and US Airways shaped her professional development to her current role with AL Family. Isabelle is the COO of the AL Family of companies including the Residential Assisted Living Academy, Pitch Masters Academy, Residential Assisted Living National Association, Four Homes to Freedom, Family Legacy Homes and Residential Assisted Living National Convention.

With a degree in Human & Family Development and minors in Religious Studies and Communication, Isabelle’s skills are broad and far reaching. She enjoys all organizational tasks, planning and running corporate events, leading teams to reach their financial and personal goals. In college, Isabelle was Chi Omega’s elected Secretary but she also took on leadership roles in every job or club she has ever participated in.

Isabelle loves to volunteer her time and skills to missions work across the world, bringing donations, helping build different projects and sharing God’s Word. Isabelle runs her own charity trips to Jamaica bi-yearly to help donate time and money to Denham Town’s Gold Age Care Home. If you need something to get done quickly and properly, you know who to call! As of 2022 Isabelle has started taking the stage for RALAcademy as their leading lady and lead educator on the topic of senior housing. She is an excellent speaker carrying on her father’s legacy of “Doing Good & Doing Well” with RAL!


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