Imagine this situation: A senior citizen makes the decision to sell her home and move into an assisted living facility, she assigns Power of Attorney to her children and even makes all her funeral arrangements so her family can rest easy. The facility has varying levels of care, each one costing a little more and being more hands on with assistance. Now the person needs to go into the hospital and they are being discharged home on hospice services, only they cannot go home. The facility states she must meet certain criteria to return to her apartment, even with hospice and 24/7 private duty care. Leaving this person essentially homeless at the end of their life. The inpatient hospice units can only keep a patient for a few days and then there must be a discharge plan unless the person passes away. This scenario played out right in front of me in the recent past and it was heartbreaking for the patient and family. Thankfully her family were able to take care of her until the end of her life but they felt blindsided. They truly believed they were totally prepared and quickly found out they were not.
Many people consider assisted living as an option and for some it is an excellent fit. There are many pros and cons; sadly some find that once they move in life is not a bowl of cherries. The annual cost of assisted living is anywhere between $30,000 to $90,000 or more when add on services are calculated. Add-on services cost extra per day and can include things like an LPN coming to check your blood sugars, giving you medications or even turning on your oxygen at night. Be careful, these can add up quickly and be very expensive! Depending on the type of facility and what you can afford, you may not get a private room. Many seniors feel they have a lack of privacy in these facilities and sometimes a loss of independence. Many are understaffed which can lead to negligence. As I did the research for this article I read multiple articles stating the pros and cons of assisted living and so much of the information out there is simply not reality. I know many people who think they will just put their elderly parents into assisted living once they need help and it just doesn’t work that way. If your loved one needs hands-on assistance for transfers to and from a wheelchair or always needs help in the bathroom, they may need 24/7 private duty help while living in the facility!
Assisted living may be perfect for some people. If they enjoy the social environment and having a variety of activities and amenities right on campus then they may love it! Many do have access to a wide range of assistance for seniors that they offer sort of a la carte. Most have 24/7 staff and or security available and access to medical care if needed. Lots of assisted living facilities welcome pets too. If you are considering moving into assisted living, ask to speak to current residents for their opinion.Have a family member do a google search of the facility to see if there are any negative reviews online. Inquire about any scenario that would prevent you from coming home and as always read everything you sign and keep copies!