Making the decision for yourself or for a loved one to move into an assisted living community can be a very difficult decision. It can feel additionally overwhelming trying to find the community that is right for you or your loved one’s care needs, preferences and more. Having worked in the health care and senior living industry for many years, and going through the journey of finding an assisted living community for my father, I would like to share the “most frequently asked questions” I’ve encountered.
Start the Senior Living Conversation before Crisis Mode
Most incoming calls to senior living or health care communities come in a form of a crisis. Many people do not want to give up their autotomy or their home, but then find themselves in a situation when they begin needing more help than family or friends can provide. Family members usually initiate these calls. When reflecting upon my personal experience with my father, I wish I had been proactive in preparing my dad for a change in his living situation. Waiting caused more stress for him, as well as our family. I would highly recommend engaging in open communication with your loved one regarding their thoughts on how they see themselves living their lives as they age. Also, try to be realistic. Staying home alone may not always be an option, even with in-home care. One of the most important reasons to start the senior living conversation early is to help begin the transition out of the home. Conversations should include what items in their home have sentimental or monetary value. Also, ask your loved one what aspects of their living they would like to maintain as they move to a new home. What will they miss the most? Do they value their space, and may like to have a garage or large apartment? What does independence look like to them? Do they have strong social circles? These questions are important to ask when finding the perfect living situation for your loved one.
Get on a Waiting List
The second most common question is availability. We receive many calls from family members when their loved one needs to move in immediately. That can be challenging for any assisted living community to accommodate, as a room may not be available. I would suggest being proactive and getting on a waiting list before you find yourself in a crisis situation. Especially if you find the perfect assisted living facility that meets you and your loved ones needs.
Learn About Assisted Living Payment Options
It is a common myth that Medicare pays for assisted living. This is not the case. The cost of care can be high. I would recommend that you and your loved one start looking at their finances to see if they can afford a higher level of care. There is assistance available through the government for seniors who meet the financial requirements for ALTCS, Arizona Long Term Care System. However, please be aware that most assisted living facilities have a limited number of rooms available for ALTEC residents. I would suggest sitting down with the marketing directors of assisted living facilities early in your search to discuss viable payment options.
If your loved one decides to stay in his/her home, there are many resources in the Flagstaff community to help make that possible. These resources can help you with transportation, food, medical care, companionship, respite care and more. I would suggest contacting the Area Agency on Aging and use their knowledge as a resource guide for your care needs. The goal for all of us who work in the senior living environment or have aging loved in ones is to ensure that individuals have the best care possible, with little impact on their quality of life. Understanding what “quality of life” means to you or your loved one is an important factor in determining the ideal living situation. FBN
By Leah Veschio, RN, MSN