7 Mistakes to Avoid When Looking at Senior Living Communities

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If you’re looking for assisted living and you know that you can’t afford to make a poor decision when the stakes are so high.  This is often a very stressful time for all family members and too often, just finding a place to start is tough.

Selecting a senior living community can be made easier if you plan and gather information before a sudden health change or a chronic condition like Alzheimer’s which will worsen on time.  So what mistakes should a family avoid?

1.  Not researching what types of senior communities are available.  In Central Illinois, there are clearly about four types of senior living communities:  Endowment Homes,  CCRCs, Assisted Living, Supportive Living and Independent Living.  (next month the column will cover those differences)

2. Not being realistic about finances.  Take a realistic look at income, if you have long term care insurance and assets; record those numbers.  Match your finances to the communities available.  In this writers opinion it is a terrible disappointment to look at communities that are not within your budget.  This just leads to disappointment.

3.  Putting too much value in what a friend says.  Everyone’s situation is different.  While it is very nice if your loved one knows people in the community, everyone’s situation is different.

4.  Not considering current health and future Needs. Certain medical conditions will most likely result in future needs.  For example: 50% of Parkinson’s patients may develop dementia.  Do your homework on current and trending medical conditions.  Research which communities can best handle that condition and whether or not your loved one could stay within that community or possibly need to move to another community in the future.

5. Choosing a community because it fits your tastes, not your loved one’s.  He/she is the person who will be living at the community and will be there most of the time.  You would be visiting for short time periods; and many times these visits are planned. So, a bit more travel to see a loved one is ok.  Your loved one needs to be as comfortable as possible with their living environment,

6. Not reading the community’s contract.  Know what your loved one is signing for.  Senior community contracts are usually easier to read than some contracts, but they are still a contract with obligations.  Simple questions are: what is the apartment cost?  What I the cost of care?  Can the level of care increase causing the costs to increase?  If so how?  Is there a separate meal cost?  Are property taxes payable?   Some people ask their attorney to review this contract.

7.  Personally signing the contract for your loved one.  Unless you want to be responsible for your loved one’s bill, do not personally sign the senior living contract.  This is a legal matter and you should seek legal advice.

As you see this process may be a bit more involved than one might think at first glance.  There are resources available.  www.Medicare.gov now has “star ratings” ratings for many types of senior communities.  Gather information before a crisis so that you can be better prepared if you need to make a sudden decision.

Written by

Steven A. Buttice is the president of Medical Reimbursement & Management Services, Inc., a firm specializing in issues affecting seniors, including seminars and consultation on Medicare Plans, Long Term Care and other types of insurance, claims issues, and sales/service of insurance products since 1984.

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