Assisted living is a growing industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2014, 835,200 older Americans resided in assisted living facilities, an increase of over 100,000 residents in just four years. For many older Americans, assisted living offers hope of receiving help with meals, medications or other activities of daily living while still maintaining some independence.
However, older Americans have a wide variety of care needs and assisted living facilities vary greatly in the services they provide. The right choice of a facility is critical; a wrong choice can put a loved one at risk. According to a recent Consumers Reports article (“Elder Care and Assisted Living: Who Will Care for You?”), when searching for an appropriate assisted living facility, there are four key questions to consider:
- What Kind of Help Will the Resident Need? A medical evaluation – preferably by a geriatric specialist – is helpful to determine the level of care a loved one needs and how those needs may change. Also, given the wide range of services provided by assisted living facilities, a professional care manager can help provide information regarding appropriate facilities.
- How is the Quality of Care? Of course, everyone wants their loved to receive excellent care, but for a variety of reason, not all facilities deliver good care. Therefore, it is best to check the facility’s inspection or complaint record with the state and visit the facility more than once on different days and times. Also, ask the residents and their families about their experience – a first hand account can be very valuable.
- What Are the Real Costs of Care? Some facilities charge a set amount while others charge based on the services provided. It is important to understand precisely what is covered and have a list of fees included in the contract.
- Can Your Loved One Be Kicked Out? When a loved one can be discharged and how much notice must be provided should be addressed in the contract. Common discharge reasons include unpaid bills and care needs that cannot be met by the facility. Do not rely on the admission director’s assurances that your loved can age in place at the facility. Involuntary discharges rank among the top complaints in most states. Protect your loved by knowing specifically when a discharge may occur.
Moving a loved one into an assisted living can allow him or her to age safely and independently. However, the move is also fraught with risk. Be sure to consult with an experienced elder law attorney to help make sure you make the right choice.