When considering a care community, older and disabled adults are the primary consumers of both assisted living and nursing facility care. They should be the primary decision makers, when possible, about the move from independence to an environment where they receive help in one or more areas of their daily life. The “resident” is involved in all aspects of the decision making process, health and financial assessment, identifying and touring potential facilities, and considering charges in the contract/resident agreement. Surrogate decision makers can participate, but nothing is more important than involving the older adult in this process! There are two basic questions consumers should ask themselves when considering a change:
- What are your needs, both current and in the future?
- How will you pay to have those needs met?
Consider These Things When Answering Your Basic Questions:
Discuss the alternatives with family and friends.
- care by friends or family
- home care or home health care agencies
- shared living
- independent apartment with services such as meals
- assisted living
- nursing facility care
Talking with your doctor can help you determine if the option being considered will best meet your health needs.
- There are locations that have special care services for people with dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses.
Think about how you would handle possible crises.
- Who would you want to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated?
- Have you designated someone to be your Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Agent?
- Do you want to complete a living will or other advance care directives about your medical care (Health Care Power of Attorney)?
Consider your financial resources.
- What resources are available to you – pension, savings, long-term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.?
- What type of care (if any) is covered by your insurance?
- How will the monthly fees and any deposits be covered?
Investigate the options you choose.
- Use on-line resources such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services to see up to date information about home care, home health and nursing homes.
- Ask the assisted living for their most current corrective action reports, or their deficiency statements.
- Visit the facilities you are interested in as often as needed to get a clear picture of what care, treatment and services are being offered.
- Talk with present residents and their families about what life is like within the community or facility.
Read the contract carefully. Ask a trusted friend to review it with you. You may also want to discuss the contract with an attorney.
- Request a copy of the contract prior to admission to review the language and prepare questions.
- Keep a copy of the signed contract on hand.
- Regulated facilities are obligated to make sure that residents and their representatives understand the contract, the programs available to cover the services, and the limits of these programs.