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What to Look for When Researching an Assisted Living Facility for Dad

By Kimberly Bove

Last week, we discussed what signs to look for when deciding if your mom might be ready for assisted living. It could also be difficult to know what to look for when selecting the right facility for your parent. First of all, these are not, and I repeat, not your grandmother's nursing home. Active adult communities offer independent living, assisted living and memory support. Many are built on a social model that strive to provide an active and engaging lifestyle while providing the customized medical support necessary based on your parent’s needs. But beware, not all communities are created equal and you will need to do a lot of homework prior to selecting the right facility for your loved one.

One truism I can assure you is that the best time to choose a community is BEFORE you need one. Do not wait for a crisis. Take the time to do your research, tour the communities, ask questions (then more questions) and evaluate your finances so as a family, you are better prepared when the time is appropriate for this transition. Get to know the business models because there are many from which to choose.  Here are a couple things to consider:

1) Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC): CCRC's require “buy-ins” or surrendered assets. They also require physical and mental evaluations. If your loved one qualifies, they may be offered a life contract which agrees to provide for all medical needs at a set price for life, minus normal cost of living increases.  If mom doesn’t pass the evaluation, she may not qualify for a life contract and may have to “private pay” for her services in addition to the “buy in.” Read the fine print on these contracts so you know exactly which services will and will not be available to your parent. If your loved one is to pass away or move out before the upfront funds are used, some communities refund large portions of your investment and others will not refund any at all.

2) Rental Communities: Rental communities are popping up everywhere and are becoming more and more popular. A rental offers services with no initial “buy ins” or large down payments. The monthly fees are often higher than the CCRC monthly fees, but in this model, you only pay for care when and if you need care. This feature is often a major factor in the decision making process. 

Ultimately, you should choose the business model that fits your family’s finances and preferences.  Senior living is not cheap, but there are ways to help alleviate the cost. Veteran’s benefits or Long Term Care Insurance policies can potentially help lighten the load. You want to also understand how much personal savings, proceeds from the sale of a departure residence, and investment funds are available to pay for the care. A trip to a financial advisor is always recommended as you plan for your parent’s move to an assisted living facility.

When you tour a facility, here are a few other considerations:

1)  How nutritional are the daily meals?

2)  Are there activities provided that are of interest to your loved one?

3)  Will there be a compatible friend group for socializing?

4)  Is there a 24/7 and appropriate medical oversight?

5)  What is the condition of the facility and the grounds?

6)  Is the community easily accessible for family members to visit?

In order to be prepared when the time is right, open lines of communication as a family, understand what is most important when it comes to an assisted living community, and know what finances are available. Research communities and schedule visits so you can make the best decision for your loved one. A good quality senior living community will provide mom and dad with a safe and loving environment in which to live out their final years. As the child, it will provide you with peace of mind knowing your parent’s health and well-being is in good hands.

Kimberly Bove is the Regional Director of Sales and Marketing

SageLife - Senior Living

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