One of the most difficult elder issues involves where and how to get assistance for living activities as we begin being unable to care for all our needs personally. Sadly, the issue is so hard that many of the elderly don’t deal with it until they have little or no choice. Like any other major life issue, if you plan for living assistance in advance, the transition is much easier when the time comes. Even more sadly, money is often the only criteria many use for choosing an assisted living facility. Whether you have money, carefully planned, are making the choices for yourself or not, this article should help you choose the right care, in the right location, with the right quality of care, with the right reputation, at the right price to meet the increasing needs of you or a loved one.
Type Of Elder Care: Caring for the elderly is about meeting the current needs and providing for future needs. While a nursing home is for advanced needs or to recover from injury or surgery, assisted living is the focus of this article. This is where some of the activities of daily life (cooking, cleaning, dressing, etc.) have become too difficult to perform but you’re not in need of round the clock professional nursing. Living facilities range from Independent apartments to lock-in Alzheimer and Dementia care. If you’re still able to come and go, cook, etc. but want other Seniors to socialize with, there are apartments that include maid service, cafeteria and recreation. Probably, the most common assisted living arrangements include meals, cleaning, dressing, medicine dispensing and monitoring as part of the standard package.
Residential Senior Housing Location: After you determine the type of care you’ll need, the next most important thing is the location. If you will live near a city with a hospital, there are usually a large variety of Senior homes to choose from. They will range from private homes with 4-6 rooms for residents to multi-level care facilities with hundreds of rooms and staff members. The most important thing when choosing a location is to be close to the person who is supervising the care (usually a younger family member). It has to be convenient enough for frequent visits at all times of day and night. Certainly within a 30 minute drive from home or work. Once you know the area you’re looking for, search the yellow pages, the internet, the newspaper, ask friends and neighbors, even drive the streets building a list of potential senior homes. Then, don’t call for an appointment…that’s what they expect.
Before Contacting The Providers: Before you contact anyone for a scheduled tour, you need to do your own inspection. Drive around the building or walk around, looking for things that are sloppy, unmaintained, etc. Ask some of the neighbors what they can tell you about the home. Look around the neighborhood to see how it feels. Walk into the building as a stranger, to see if anyone challenges you and to see if there are any care issues you can spot when they didn’t know you were coming. Make notes! Now, you’re ready for the first appointment.
Caregiver appointment: The larger ones will probably feed you with the residents, show you the activity areas, give you a copy of their calendar and introduce you to the residents they know will tell you positive things. Ask to go where they’re not taking you…the kitchen, the dispensary, etc. Stop and talk to the residents who are frowning. Get permission to interview other residents and family members when you’re not under escort. Find out the legal name of the person or company that owns the facility. Get the standard pricing range. If you have a few assets, and a retirement income, money should not be an important issue. If you are required to find care on the Medicaid budget, you can ask at this appointment if they can provide care under those terms. Tell them you’re going to be investigating them and ask if there’s anything they’d like to share about incidents your investigation is likely to reveal. Make notes!
After The Appointment: Schedule interviews with a few tenants at random. Research the facility and it’s owners at the state licensing board, county courthouse and on the internet…make notes! Those homes that seem to have a lot of negative stuff you can write off. leaving, hopefully, 3-4 candidates to finish the process with.
Evaluation Appointment: The final step in the selection process is where the staff nurse evaluates the potential resident to determine the level of care they need and if the facility can satisfy that need. After this step, you’ll get the final picture on the availability of rooms and the price for care. Again, if there are a few assets and a retirement income, money should not be the deciding factor in care choices. It is foolish in the extreme to scrimp on care just to leave money to your heirs. If they love you, your care is the most important…not your money.
I know it’s hard work going through this…almost as hard as buying a home and just as important. Hopefully, you now have a few new ideas and tools to make the process a little less difficult. One final note. It’s very difficult and painful for someone who has been independent for so many years to start depending on the care of others. Expect to experience severe grief, even depression during the transition. Sometimes, knowing these feelings are normal can help you adjust.