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Who Will Care For You?

A caregiver is explaining paperwork to an elderly man at a facility.
A caregiver reviewing paperwork with a patient.

Assisted living is a growing industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 800,000 older Americans reside in assisted living facilities. For many, assisted living provides 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 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:

1. What Kind of Help Will be Needed?   

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.

2. How is the Quality of Care?

Of course, everyone wants their loved one to receive excellent care, but for a variety of reasons, not all facilities provide 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.

3. 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.

4.  Can Your Loved One Be Kicked Out?

 When a resident 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 one can age in place at the facility.  Involuntary discharges rank among the top complaints in most states. Protect your loved one by knowing specifically when a discharge may occur.

Moving a loved one into 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 ensure you make the right choice.

Elder Law Today is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The newsletter is published as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.


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