How to find the best assisted living home for a parent
Holiday seasons are a time for family get-togethers. After the parties, siblings often start discussing Mom’s and Dad’s health and living arrangements. Usually it goes something like this: “I’m really worried about Dad living alone — did you see how frail he has gotten? And his fridge was empty — I don’t think he is eating. I think we should consider helping him move to an assisted living home.”
You’re not alone; more than 100,000 Americans will either place or start the process of getting their aged parent placed or arranged into a safe atmosphere during the first quarter of 2017.
With an aged population set to hit 72 million by 2020, the need for alternate housing options are the topic of discussion this holiday season. But what’s the right facility and how do you get started? You may have noticed assisted living homes popping up in your backyard this last year. In Utah alone, 50 new assisted living homes were on the health department’s plan review docket. That is more than 1,000 beds. This does not include the hundreds of independent senior housing projects built in 2016.
How do you navigate through the numerous options? For many people, the location is the first consideration. For others, it is the size or the amenities. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing the last home your loved one will live in.
What is their current lifestyle like? Are they spending most days watching TV and reading the news? Do they occasionally go out or have visitors? If that’s the case, then moving them into a large community or a big-box-type assisted living home is not going to be comfortable for them. Many times, families have high expectations that Mom and Dad need to be more social and expect they will be when they move into the big box home. However, if they have been living the mellow, easy-going lifestyle for a long time, it won’t be changing any time soon. They may struggle in their new living conditions. There are many small community homes in your area, homes tucked into neighborhoods with only 12 to 20 residents. These are the places where easy-going, family-oriented social groups thrive.
The larger communities with big parking lots are wonderful places for that person that still has a lot of independence and enjoys going out. They will enjoy the busy activities and constant movement within the community. They may make friends that enjoy activities, and together they will thrive and age in place. These communities range from 40 beds to 200 beds. They look and feel like four-star hotels and have some very nice amenities. Many have different sections to care for varying degrees of need from memory care to independence care.
The smaller homes are fast becoming the first best choice for many aging adults. In most cases, these homes are better equipped for higher needs and residents with minor dementia. One of the reasons is because of staffing ratios, which ensure residents will not be overlooked. With such a tight-knit home and fewer residents, its nearly impossible to not recognize health changes and social isolation. Many of the smaller type homes look and feel like home, which gives elderly people a sense of familiarity. Being in a place that looks, feels and even smells like home has been proven to enhance quality of life. Of course, prices usually vary due to size and location. Most southern Utah County facilities are much lower in pricing than northern and Salt Lake communities. You will see pricing range from $2,000 to 6,000 per month for a private room.
How to pay for it? The most frequently used options are to pay privately and/or utilize VA benefits. If you or your spouse served during wartime, you are entitled to benefits up to $2,000 per month to pay for an assisted living home. State-funded Medicaid is also an option for paying assisted living costs. This option has some tricky requirements; however, it is a great option for people with low income and low assets. This State Medicaid program is called the New Choice Waiver. Longterm care insurance is also used by those who looked ahead many years ago.