When my mother and I toured assisted living centers together to see if she wanted to move from her apartment, I saw the wide range of offerings in my area. A couple of centers were so great I'd love to have moved in myself, if I could afford it. It seemed a great way to get pampered and not have to go out in horrible weather.
Well, she couldn't afford those any more than I could. But we did find one that suited her. It was very nice, if more modest. It was still expensive compared to her apartment, and she ended up backing out of a pre-agreement. She had me to do for her what she needed, and she liked her apartment better. She had a personal alarm to call me if she fell. So, she stayed in her apartment until she needed a nursing home.
Still, that experience gave me first-hand experience of a caregiver helping an elder look at such a move. The choices were pretty baffling (even though money, or lack of it, eliminated several options).
Some assisted living centers are hugely expensive and offer many services from gourmet food to gyms. Those are more like retirement homes with a few extras. As with many, if not most, assisted living centers, if you actually want any other personal services, you need to pay extra and often arrange for it all yourself, which is not much different from living in an apartment.
Other centers offer more services, and some even have memory units for people who may need a secure environment but are not yet in need of full nursing home care.
Without reservation, I can say this: They are all expensive and they are not covered by Medicare or, at this time, Medicaid. I've heard some horror stories about people getting locked into contracts that were much more complicated than they realized when they signed. I've also heard of some centers that don't live up to their claims.
With this in mind, I want to pass on to you a quickly evolving resource at www.insideassistedliving.com. Ryan Malone ushered his mother through the assisted living maze after she had a stroke. He started the blog, plus produced a book titled, "The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living," based on his experiences and what he has since learned.
Available in hard copy or as an e-book, the Guide provides tips for evaluating assisted living centers and helping your loved one with the transition into that environment. The book includes a workbook to help you with take notes and keep track of the residences you tour. Included is also a sample advanced health directive and - this is important - a sample residency agreement, so you get a heads up on what you may be signing. There are more tips in the book to guide you through the residency agreement lease, as well. Before signing onto any agreement, read it carefully.
Inside Assisted Living gives tips about long-term care insurance and hiring private caregivers to fill gaps in the assisted living arrangement. There are also insights into activities to help you question if they are useful for your elder and suggestions for reducing caregiver stress, as well as ways to keep tabs on center staff. The blog is a valuable resource and the book is definitely helpful.
The site offers different packages should you decide to buy the book in one form or another. If you are considering assisted living for a loved one, www.insideassistedlivinging.com is a helpful resource. I've learned a lot just from following Ryan's posts. If you are in the market for assisted living for yourself or a loved one, you could definitely benefit from Ryan's experience.
Published On: January 14, 2009