When I began looking into assisted living options for my dad, I will admit that I thought we would not be able to afford a quality assisted living community. However, after researching and learning about the costs, I learned that assisted living can be affordable. If you are reading this article, you may be considering an assisted living facility for yourself or for your loved one. Here are some areas to consider as you research your options.
Working with Marketing, Sales Directors
First, I would schedule an in-person meeting with the director of marketing/sales. Websites are often limited and may not paint a clear picture of actual costs. Many assisted living communities are managed by a company that oversees other communities across the United States. Ask which amenities and services are offered at the location you are considering. A good marketing director will take the time to help you analyze your current spending and financial situation, and how it compares to their community. You might be surprised what you really spend when living on your own. Don’t be afraid to be upfront about properties you owned, savings and any insurances policies that may help meet your care needs. The marketing director wants you to be successful, as their goal is for your loved one to live in the community long-term. If you can’t afford it, a good marketing director will be upfront and honest with you.
What to Consider?
Many assisted living communities will present you with a base rate, comprised of different care levels. Watch for à la carte fees, as these could increase the cost. Clarify what the base rate really means and ask the facility what would cause an increase in your rent. Some facilities have a mandatory rate increase every year. Make sure you understand what this entails. Base rates typically do not cover additional care needs, such as medication management or bathing. Make sure you ask about their process in identifying when you or your loved one may need to advance to the next care level. Ask that they put everything in writing so you can go home and discuss what you learned with your family. In addition, be sure to inquire about any discounts that may apply. Many assisted living communities have move in specials or are aware of outside discounts, like for veterans.
One of the most essential questions to ask, as well as one of the most difficult, is what happens when your loved one runs out of private pay funds. In the state of Arizona, many facilities take Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS), a government assistance program that comes into play when you drop below a certain financial income. If your loved one can only afford assisted living for a year or two, be transparent with the facility. They will tell you about ALTCS and how it works there. Also, talk to a professional about ALTCS outside of the assisted living community. They can help you prepare and distribute your funds appropriately to prevent future concerns.
Moving into an assisted living facility can be feel overwhelming at first. While you are considering your options, ask if you can participate in their activities or enjoy a meal in their dining room. The quality and level of care should be the number one priority during your search. At the same time, you want to make sure the community feels like home, so you feel welcome to take advantage of all assisted living has to offer! FBN
By Leah Veschio