The Quest for the Right Senior Residence

In my search to find a senior residential facility should I need, I’ve learned some things that I will share because this mission is fraught with confusion.

First off, the usual route for the aged (unless they live with their adult children or really good friends) is (1.) Senior Living where they have an apartment and meals served (2.) Assisted Living where they receive extra help in personal hygiene such as showers, medication, prompting for activities and meals. Finally (3.) the Nursing Home for skilled care, usually when folks become immobile and totally dependent.

The cost of the senior facility I visited Friday (it is a chain, by the way), is $5630 monthly, base pay, which covers room with shower, 3 meals a day, housekeeping, heat, utilities, activities, laundry, transport. Once one adds other services (such as staff giving meds, overseeing showers, helping dress, prompting for meals and activities, the rate goes up for each service. As one reader of my past post helpfully explained, a diabetic may need assistance several times a day and this may bump up the price, considerably. One needs to ask how monthly fee MAY change depending on services added when considering cost.

Competing facilities may quote a price that has all of those services built in to their price. You need to ask which services are covered and which are not so you can compare apples to apples.

Tip to consider? Almost all hope you sign on at time of interview, promising there is “incentive” price (1st month half off; one in Dec. offered half price for 3 months–Dec., Jan., Feb). You’ll be signing a contract so important to know all requirements. .

In many facilities, a new resident provides her own furniture of couch, bed, table, chair, etc. The residence will help with transporting a resident’s home furnishings (fees involved) or will receive those from a retail or on-line merchant. Other facilities provide the furnishings—again, something to consider.

When I was a realtor, I advised folks to tour neighborhood they considered, to talk to people, about how they liked living there. The same applies with researching senior facilities. Talk to residents on your tour. They’re usually happy for the new encounter.

We went through this process with my own mother. The facility I toured last week was the very one she’d lived at, years earlier.

On Friday, I asked the director to show me my Mom’s former “apartment” (a room, with shower) which was vacant at the time. There was an apartment size refrigerator/freezer and I thought that great because we provided Mom our own (for her wine—which may have been a poor plan, in retrospect.)

While she was in that apartment, she fell, and instead of calling 911, she crawled to the phone and called me (I live 5 minutes away.) How had she fallen? Tripping over the hassock which I stupidly allowed her to have, to go along with her favorite chair. The problem? She wasn’t used to navigating in her new confined space. (Note to reader! Don’t include any furnishings your aging relative can trip over.)

Her fall ended up resulting in the famed broken hip (so many women get this) and a stay in a skilled nursing/rehab facility which, incidentally experienced a fire one week into her stay. Staff called us to tell us and we arrived, on a chilly night to see Mom, sitting up on her gurney, alongside the building, helping direct patient traffic. Mom was a take-charge individual who never missed an opportunity to “help.”

On that score, know, too, your pay requirements to assisted living should you end up in nursing home, as you recover.

So, your choice is a big one. Make sure you perform your own “due diligence.”

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