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Senior Living Memory Care Richmond VA Blog



How and What to Look for in an Assisted Living Facility

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAOver the years, adult children move away. When they come home to visit, they often find that maybe their parents are not as independent as they once were. Traditionally, this begins the search for assisted living homes by adult children with aging parents. When it's time to get extra care for your parents, you may be forced to decide quickly.

Take the time to find out exactly what your parent needs are. That often means talking to their doctor, or if they have had a recent hospital visit and they cannot go home, also speak with their social worker, nursing staff, case manager and discharge manager. Or it may mean hiring a geriatric care manager to help coordinate the various care providers.

It can be challenging to balance quality and cost.

So unless your parents have long-term-care insurance, they may not be able to afford the ideal setting for very long. Medicare covers very little long-term care, and most people aren't eligible for Medicaid until they've spent most of their money.

But new resources can help you make the decision.

Assisted living in many cases can take the place of nursing-home care, at least in the early stages. Some assisted living facilities have continuing care, and residents can move to another wing in the same facility if they need more supervision. And people with dementia and Alzheimer's have many options for memory care.

You can go to the Eldercare Locator or a local Area Agency on Aging for help finding assisted-living facilities, but these resources don't assess the services. Review sites let you see others' experience with the facilities.

What to Look For

After you narrow the list to two to five places, visit and ask questions. And don't just talk with the marketing people; talk with the people who are providing the care.

Go completely unannounced and walk in at whatever time of day you can. See how people are treated at mealtime and how they're treated at 8 p.m.

Next, schedule a meeting with the marketing director to get more details about how the facility cares for residents. Every nursing home is required to have a care plan. What would be in the care plan for your parent? What activities would the facility offer to your parent? How are the residents' physical needs monitored?

Ask about the patient-to-staff ratio (usually recommended is a ratio of 18-20 patients per caregiving staffer). What type of specialized training do the staff have in dealing with your parent's medical condition? Ask if your parent will get any time outside the facility, especially if he or she is in a locked memory-care wing of a long-term-care facility (some have courtyards).

Ask for a list of the costs, especially for assisted living. In some facilities, you may get a set number of hours of personal care, and you may be charged extra if your parent needs more. After your visit, ask yourself: Is this a place where you would want to spend time? Is it clean? How does it smell? Are the residents showered, with clean clothes? Is the food healthy and tasty? How would your parent fit in with the other residents?

Does the staff treat the residents with respect or, better yet, like beloved grandparents?

Things Change

No matter what, monitor your parent's care with the same critical eye you brought to the selection process. If the place isn't a good match, don't be afraid to move your parent to one that feels like home.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.

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Chicago Tribune - Health


Retirement in Richmond, VA is Affordable, Healthcare is Excellent, and Life is Good

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 05, 2018
  • Retirement is something to think about years before you get there.
  • Choosing the best place to retire in the US means weighing affordability, quality of life, activities, and healthcare.
  • WalletHub ranked the best US cities to live in retirement.
  • Many of the top cities are in states with warm weather.

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADeciding where to live in retirement may be one of the last major financial decisions you'll make, and picking the right spot is important.

WalletHub set out to put worried minds at ease. The site used available data for the 150 largest US cities to find the best and worst places to lay your hat. We already looked at the worst cities for retirement, so let's take a look at the opposite: the best urban areas to live in your post-working life.

How people spend time when they don't have to go to the office every day tends to be a little different. Many dream of hours full of painting and golf, but there are more practical considerations to keep in mind too.

Along with the weather and nearby museums and tennis courts, reliable, accessible healthcare and affordable housing are important benchmarks when determining where to live in retirement.

WalletHub found that the cities below offered a great quality of life, good healthcare, and plentiful activities — all at an affordable cost.

WalletHub scored each city based on affordability, activities, quality of life, and healthcare. The four categories were weighted equally, and each city was given a total score and then ranked, with the highest overall score designating the best city. WalletHub used data for only the city, not the surrounding metro area.

We've included the total score (out of a possible 100), with a higher score denoting a better place to live, as well as its ranking out of 150 cities for each of the four categories, with a lower number being better.

27. Richmond, VA

  • Total score (out of 100): 52.80

Rankings (out of 150 cities):

  • Affordability: 38
  • Activities: 22
  • Quality of life: 139
  • Healthcare: 33

For more information on senior living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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Business Insider


How to Compare Assisted Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 12, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAThis Medicare site (http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers/ ) offers the most straight forward answers to important questions such as “How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities.”

Unfortunately, for many families, the decisions they face about how best to serve their elderly relatives comes down to available finances. It is just a reality in today's health care environment and affects how we have chosen as a society to care for our parents. The more financial flexibility you have the more options you have, and this site is a great resource to help make sure you are getting everything that you need to, and to help you plan for the future ... to get the best care for your elderly parents as you can.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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Retire in Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 08, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAMore than 7 million tourists visit the Greater Richmond region each year to explore its rich American history. There is a lot of entertainment and history here, the metro area was at the epicenter of the Civil War. You can find all types of thing to do in the region as well, including world-class museums, a vibrant food scene and a wide array of entertainment options from concerts and theater performances to family-friendly festivals.

The only region in America with whitewater rapids running through its downtown district, Richmond is a major financial center as well. Richmond is also the seat of Virginia's state government. And, with a wide range of housing options and a below-average cost of living, the Richmond metro area – which includes suburban areas too - appeals to a varied demographic, from young families to retirees.

Downtown Richmond is anchored by Universities, which draws a large crowd of younger residents. But this college town has plenty to offer families and older residents, as well. Each of Richmond's neighborhoods exudes a unique personality.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Richmond, Virginia is ranked:

#24 in Best Places to Live
#32 in Best Places to Retire

For more information on senior living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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US News - Real Estate


Coping with Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 04, 2017

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAContrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of ageing. Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, in other words the disease eventually leads to the death of neurons.

In a patient with Alzheimer's disease these neurotransmitters that send out signals are less in number. An Alzheimer's patient also develops deposits of protein and fiber in the brain that restrict proper functioning. As a result, brain cells cannot send the right signals to the other parts of the brain and ultimately brain cells shrink and die.

Medical research shows that the damage to the brain begins at least 10 years before symptoms. This is the pre-clinical phase where the individual is symptom free. This phase is followed by the Mild Cognitive Impairment phase where the person might appear to be more 'absent minded' than before; following this is the Dementia phase, which in itself has 7 stages.

A person with Alzheimer's has several cognitive disabilities:

  • the person maybe repetitive with their questions/statements
  • the person may have regressed to a different age or may keep alternating between present and past
  • the person may be unable to perform activities requisite for daily living
  • the person may be unable to express themself due to compromised language capacities
  • all executive functions such as logical reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment are affected at the very beginning
  • towards the later stages, the person becomes child-like and usually requires assistance with even their hygiene routine.

Caring for people with Alzheimer's disease:

If a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it is imperative that you extend care that is more than medicinal. While medication certainly aid in slowing the decline, human-touch goes a long way too. In most cases, the person diagnosed with Alzheimer's doesn't have insight of what is happening to them, it is therefore important to attend to their symptoms with concern and a non-judgmental attitude.

Even simple activities like listening to music or reading the newspaper on a daily basis make a lot of difference. It is important to stimulate all senses.

In some cases, the person may still have some insight while in the early stages - the person may be confused about what is happening to them. The constant need to seek help from others for their daily needs might cause some frustration/depression in them. It is important to make them feel accepted and loved.

Listening to them with deep empathy, but not sympathy, also helps. Efforts must be made to make the person feel required, needed and useful. Requesting their help in easy, daily chores is not only to make them feel important but will also be a great way to engage them mentally!

As you come to terms with an Alzheimer's diagnosis, you may be handling a plethora of emotions. Undoubtedly, you will be worried about how things will change for both you and your loved one. It is common to experience emotions ranging from anger to grief. Give yourself sometime and do not hesitate to ask for help. After all, the more support you have, the better you will be able to cater to the needs of your loved one.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.

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Times of India


When Someone With Alzheimer's Needs Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VAIt can be hard to decide when someone with Alzheimer's disease should no longer live alone. With sufficient lifestyle supports and memory aids, some people with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia live independently for years. The illness usually begins mildly, and progresses at different rates for different people.

Eventually, though, you may have your doubts about how well things are going. Are you overreacting to ordinary problems? Or making excuses so you can postpone tough choices? It can be difficult to know. Confounding the issue is the fact that people with dementia are often able to conceal the severity of their problems, especially if you don't see them every day.

Here are some questions to help you decide whether memory care, a type of assisted living for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias, might be a good option for your loved one. Each "yes" answer is a sign that warrants a closer look.

Changes in communication

  • Have letters and grandchildren's birthday cards slowed or stopped?
  • Does she seldom initiate calls anymore (it's always you calling first)?
  • Does she seem in a hurry to get off the phone, fail to ask you many questions, or seem unresponsive to your comments?
  • Do you get nonemergency calls at unreasonable hours, or hear complaints from friends that they're receiving such calls?

Changes in self-care

  • Is she losing weight inexplicably?
  • Is she gaining weight inexplicably?
  • Has her usual style (hair, makeup, clothing) become noticeably different?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the occasion?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the weather?
  • Have you detected the smell of urine on her clothes?
  • Does she stay up later and later, and then not wake until practically midday?

Unexplained weight loss may signal an illness, such as depression, or may reflect that she's losing the ability to go through the complex steps of shopping and cooking, or is even forgetting to eat. Conversely, she may forget she's just had a meal, and eat again and again. Obvious signs of a change in grooming standards, whether she's just more sloppy or more flamboyant or inappropriate, may indicate these tasks are becoming too much for her. Unpleasant body odors may mean she's neglecting to bathe or forgetting to toilet. Mixed-up hours (day and night) can be symptomatic of sundowning or depression, and tend to fuel unhealthy isolation.

Changes in social life

  • When you pick her up for an appointment, is she routinely not ready yet?
  • Does she forget you said you'd be visiting and seem surprised to see you?
  • Does she berate you for being late when you're not?
  • Does she no longer mention certain old friends, or when you mention them, is she dismissive?
  • Has she quit longstanding social engagements (clubs, card parties, religious committees)?
  • Has she noticeably lost interest in younger grandchildren (she's no longer asking about them, wanting to spend time with them, or sending them notes or gifts)?

A shrinking social life and increased isolation are not natural functions of aging. Unless she's so old that her longtime friends have all moved or died, it's more likely that she's withdrawing because of embarrassment about her dementia or inability to keep up -- or her friends are dropping her because of their own discomfort. Social appointments may also dwindle as her concept of time grows muddied. A person with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia may forget meetings, anticipate them at the wrong time, and also lose track of recent acquaintances.

Changes in the household

  • Have you ever come to visit and found the temperature of the house inappropriate (much too hot or too cold)?
  • Are cupboards full of multiple units of the same item, more than she could reasonably consume?
  • Is the refrigerator full of expired or spoiled food?
  • Is the refrigerator nearly empty?
  • Do you see any melted pots or pans with burned bottoms?
  • Do you see signs of spills that haven't been mopped?
  • Are there piles of unopened mail or obviously unread newspapers?
  • Can you smell urine?

When you visit, keep alert for these signs that she's not keeping up with everyday home care. Simply buying the same foods over and over (a particular brand of cereal, 20 varieties of vinegar) is a memory problem that may seem harmless, if expensive. But it's a safety hazard if she's forgetting to turn off burners, turn up thermostats, clean spills, or throw out old food.

Additional signs that someone with Alzheimer's needs assisted living

Other more obvious and more ominous warning signs that someone may no longer be able to live alone and may benefit from assisted living include:

  • Having electricity or water shut off because bills have gone unpaid
  • Letters thanking her for her contribution to a charitable organization that you're not aware she has a history of supporting
  • Robbery (because she let someone in the house unsuspectingly or left a door unlocked)
  • Wandering from home or getting lost

For more information on Alzheimer's care contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

caring.com


Alzheimer’s: Dealing with the Issue of Driving

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 02, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADriving calls for quick reaction time and fast decision making. This is why a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia will eventually become unable to drive. Dealing with the issue early on can help ease the transition.

Caregivers should take time to discuss the issue in a caring way, understanding how unhappy the person may be to admit that he or she has reached this stage.

A person with some memory loss may be able to drive safely sometimes. But, he or she may not be able to react quickly when faced with a surprise on the road. Someone could get hurt or killed. If the person's reaction time slows, you need to stop the person from driving.

Here are some other things to know about driving and memory loss:

The person may be able to drive short distances on local streets during the day but may not be able to drive safely at night or on a freeway. If this is the case, then limit the times and places the person can drive.

Some people with memory problems decide on their own not to drive, while others may deny they have a problem.

Signs that the person should stop driving include new dents and scratches on the car. You may also notice that the person takes a long time to do simple errands and cannot explain why, which may indicate that he or she got lost.

Here are some ways to stop people with Alzheimer's disease from driving:

Try talking about your concerns with the person.

Take him or her to get a driving test.

Ask your doctor to tell him or her to stop driving. The doctor can write, "Do not drive" on a prescription pad, and you can show this to the person. Hide the car keys, move the car, take out the distributor cap, or disconnect the battery.

Find out about services that help people with disabilities get around their community. These services may include free or low-cost buses, taxi service, and carpools.

If the person with Alzheimer's disease won't stop driving, ask your state Department of Motor Vehicles about a medical review or contact the person's physician.

For information on Alzheimer's and Dementia care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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Herald Dispatch


Avoid Disagreements on the Best Care for Parents

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAIn most sibling relationships there have no doubt been disagreements over the years. So it will be no surprise when there are different ideas on the best way to help aging parents.

According to a study, 7 in 10 caregivers said other family members had pitched in from time to time. But only 1 in 10 reported that the responsibility was shared equally or without conflict.

Experts say that when faced with important caregiving decisions, siblings often slip back into old family roles causing heated discussions and arguments. However, the experience of caring for an elderly parent can actually foster a closeness between brothers and sisters. Here's how:

1. Call a family meeting before a crisis occurs. If your parent's health deteriorates rapidly, there will be tough issues that you don't want to deal with under pressure. Look for signs of decline: Unpaid bills; missed appointments; a dirty or cluttered home; disheveled appearance. These are all red flags that it's time to get together. Plan to meet at least once a week so everyone is up-to-date on what's happening and what's needed.

2. Have an open mind. Leave childhood labels and emotional baggage at the door: You may be the oldest, but that doesn't mean you know more than the youngest who may live down the street from the parents. If at any point the conversation gets heated, table the discussion for 30 minutes and begin again.

3. Define each person's role but keep it fluid. Usually whoever lives closest to an aging parent, or has fewer work and family obligations, will take on the most caregiving duties. But there are many other jobs to do. Who's going to pay bills? Go grocery shopping and clean the bathroom? Schedule doctor appointments, social activities and other important visits?

4. Consider hiring a mediator. How to pay for care is often a trigger for tension. These arguments must be resolved since they affect so many other decisions: Where the person will live, whether a particular medical intervention is needed and whether a housekeeper is affordable. You'll need to sift through information on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance policies to figure out what services are covered and by whom. If conversations quickly become confrontations, a therapist, social worker, clergyman or attorney with experience dealing with these issues can keep ideas flowing and focused on goals.

5. Show your gratitude. Be a sounding board for the primary caregiver and each other and check in regularly to show your support and appreciation. Offer whatever assistance you can. Visit often to relieve the primary caregiver.

For information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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AARP


Assisted Living and Finding the Right Level of Care

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 14, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAYour parent or loved on is getting older. Now is the time to discuss the possibility of assisted living with family members. One of the most difficult decisions a family faces is when to move an elderly family member into specialized housing.

How to start the search can be overwhelming, but if you follow certain steps, the search can be more manageable.

One of the first questions you must answer is what kind of care your family member needs.

There are essentially four different levels of care offered by senior living communities, and it’s important to understand what each offers.

Independent living is for seniors who don’t require assistance. Independent living is usually offered in either apartment or cottage settings and generally includes meals, housekeeping and social events.

Assisted living is for seniors needing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating.

Memory support/dementia care is for seniors with cognitive decline because of Alzheimer’s or other diseases.

Skilled nursing care is for seniors in the end stage of life who require care 24 hours a day.

In addition, there are senior living communities and assisted living homes that offer multiple levels of care on the same campus in what is called a continuing care retirement community.

A senior living community will want to assess your loved one’s needs before they move in because one of the most difficult things for family members is to be objective about is the condition that their parents are in.

Here are other steps you should follow in choosing the correct senior housing:

Start early. Even if you think you won’t need senior care for a long time, learning about local communities and their pricing and amenities can make it easier when you decide to move you loved one. Also, there are advantages to moving into senior housing before there’s a crisis.

Visit the communities. This is critical. There’s no better way to get to know a community than spending time there. When you visit, use your senses: sight, smell and hearing.

Also, notice whether residents are clean and how the staff interacts with them. Do they treat them with respect and kindness?

Vary your visits. Visit the place at least twice. If you visit on a weekend, you will get an idea of how the place operates without a lot of management staff there. If you visit during a meal, you will see more of the people who actually live there. You will notice if the staff is very helpful.

When you visit, talk with the families of residents to get their insights.

Understand the costs. Some assisted living communities charge a monthly fee that includes things such as bathing, dressing and dispensing medication, while others charge a base fee and charge extra for “however much care you need.” That may include having meals brought to your home or getting assistance to get to the dining room.

Determine which fee structure best fits your needs and budget. You should also ask: How does the community decide on increases in monthly fees? Does it cap yearly increases?

Ask about health care. Be sure to inquire about how the senior living community will handle your loved one’s medical needs. What hospital will you go to if they call 911.

Are your loved one’s doctors and hospitals within the range of the senior community’s transportation services?

The bottom line is to trust your instincts when deciding on a place for your family member. And never move your loved one into a place that makes you uneasy or doesn’t feel safe.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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Dallas News


Assisted Living: Mistakes to Avoid When Searching

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAWhen families and seniors select an assisted living community, it’s a life changing decision. It can be such an intimidating choice that many families come down with analysis paralysis and postpone a decision out of fear of making the wrong choice.

Fortunately, the decision becomes easier as you expand your knowledge. It can be equally helpful to know exactly what not to do.

Learn more about eight common mistakes families make when searching for assisted living and how to avoid them:

1. Not Being Realistic About Current or Future Needs

It’s important to balance optimism with a dose of realism. Be realistic about you or your loved one’s current care needs as well as their anticipated needs. Ideally, you will choose a community that is equipped to provide care now and in the future, as loved ones age.

Too often, families come to us for assistance after initially choosing a facility that was not capable of offering the level of services required. Melissa Pratt, A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisor in Boise, Idaho, says, “Take a look at the health issues that your parent has and ask the doctor what support they will need in the future. It’s better to have a community that can handle those future needs rather than having to move your parent to another community in the near future.”

Moving a loved one from facility to facility is not only burdensome and costly to your family, it can also be emotionally and physically detrimental to the senior, particularly when that senior dementia, which can make adapting to changes especially difficult.

2. Judging a Book by its Cover

Sometimes families assume a community is right for their loved one because it has a high price and lavish features, but later realize fancy furniture and beautiful landscaping are not telltale indicators of quality care. They often find that they need to move their loved one to another community, one that’s, perhaps, less shiny but more appropriate in terms of care or atmosphere. Luxury senior living does not necessarily equate to quality senior care. A beautiful, modern and upscale facility is just as prone to oversights and errors as a community that looks a little dated. Quality of care is not something you can discern just by driving past a community to see how green the lawn is, or by poking your head in the lobby-door to gauge the ambiance and whether or not it smells nice.

Longtime A Place for Mom Advisor, Dovid Grossman, who assists families in Chicago says, “Remember to trust your intuition. After doing all the comparison and analysis you can, trust you gut instinct about which option is right.” Experts also suggest that you take time during your visits, if you have the opportunity, to speak privately with residents and staff about their level of satisfaction. Happy staff are caring staff, and a community full of cheerful residents is always a good sign.

Also look into the official backgrounds of the communities that you are exploring. The office of your local Long-term Care Ombudsman (which you can locate at www.eldercare.gov) can tell you about documented issues or problems that local communities have had in the past so that you don’t mistakenly choose a community with a history of substandard care or egregious violations.

Before committing to a long-term contract, you might also consider arranging a temporary respite stay at communities your family is exploring. Some communities even offer no-cost trial stays to qualified prospective residents.

3. Choosing a Community to Match Your Tastes Instead of Your Parent’s

Thomas Bierlein, A Place for Mom’s Director of Partner Services, told us about another common pitfall families should avoid. “Often the adult child chooses the place that they like most instead of thinking about what their loved one likes. For example, new chandeliers and a wonderful heated pool when Mom’s house is homey and she never liked swimming.”

Obviously, we encourage families to get their older loved ones as involved as possible in the decisions making process, but if your loved one is too frail or too afflicted with memory loss to participate in the decision making process or to visit communities with you, carefully consider his or her personality and preferences rather than your own as you weigh the options.

4. Overplaying the Importance of Proximity

Another mistake that Bierlein has seen families make is overemphasizing the importance of finding the closest community possible.

He told us, “Sometimes the adult child chooses the nearest community based on the intention of visiting their parent every day, even though another community one mile further away may be a much better fit. Remember that your parent will be engaged in many activities at the community and that visiting every day is usually an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself. Go with the best fit.”

5. Making a Decision Too Quickly

Earlier we noted that some families become so overwhelmed with the choice that they need to make that they don’t make a decision at all. But sometimes, families do the opposite. They are in such a rush to resolve a difficult crisis that they choose the very first open room they find in the very first facility they visit, which is probably even less effective than choosing randomly.

We recommend that families visit at least three communities before making a decision so that they can form a clear picture of the options that are available, how communities differ from one another, and what makes each community unique. After all, in order to make a good choice you need options.

6. Choosing a Community Appropriate for the Parent of Yesteryear Instead of the Parent of Today

In her book for caregivers, A Place for Mom’s spokesperson, Joan Lunden, described a mistake that she made as she searched for care for her mother with advanced dementia, “I first moved my mom into a fancy-schmancy assisted living facility. In my mind, it was a beautiful place where my mom belonged. I thought she would be able to go downstairs to the dining room and be a social butterfly with other Sacramento seniors and then retreat to a beautifully decorated apartment where she could entertain friends. The problem with my well-meaning plan was that I was making arrangements for the mom that I used to know, and not who she had become. My mom now couldn’t remember who people were, would get frightened when taken downstairs to the dining hall, and was afraid of being left alone in an apartment.”

It might be similarly misguided for a family to choose a golf oriented senior community for a father who loved the game when he was younger but now has Alzheimer’s and arthritis and hasn’t played the game in years.

7. Not Reading the Fine Print

Assisted living contracts are relatively straightforward, at least compared to other legal documents, but they still can contain confusing legalese, or involve additional fees that aren’t completely apparent. Some families are caught unprepared by fees or price increases that they would have been aware of had they reviewed their contract.

Assisted living communities have many different types of pricing structures. Make sure you understand yours. Some communities charge one fee for room and board, and a separate fee for care. A community might charge $2,500 per month for the apartment and the meals, and an additional $1,500 per month for personal care. Other communities charge individually for each service or they may rank the level of care that a resident needs on a scale, with care costs based on the level of care the nursing staff determines is needed. Some communities don’t charge a care fee at all, but instead provide an “all inclusive” pricing model whereby resident’s fees are not dependent on the care needed. At a community with all inclusive pricing, a frail resident who requires a high level of care has the same fees as a resident who is mostly or even entirely independent.

In addition to the care fees that many communities charge, when you’re reviewing your contract you may also encounter a one-time entrance fee, a fee for laundry service, medical supplies, medication delivery and so on. Furthermore, communities generally raise their prices at an approximate annual rate of 5%, which is actually twice the rate of inflation. Unless your contract clearly specifies a rent freeze or “locked rate,” your fees increase each time you renew your contract. If there is anything about the contract that you don’t understand or that concerns you, consider reviewing it with an elder attorney.

8. Going In It Alone

Many people pride themselves on their independent spirit, but when making a decision this big, it’s usually wise to gather multiple perspectives on your senior housing options. Get feedback from as many people as possible: friends who have gone through the process, your loved one’s care management team, a geriatric care manager and a Senior Living Advisor.

In Joan Lunden’s account of her search for care for her mother, she relates how, after initially choosing an inappropriate community, she found the perfect home with the help of an advisor, “…I was fortunate to secure the help of a ‘senior advocate,’ a knowledgeable professional who could answer all my questions and who could show me the residential care facilities in the area. This made all the difference in the world. I highly recommend obtaining the services of a senior advocate or eldercare advisor to help you navigate this journey. This kind of professional can help save you hours of time and stress by narrowing your choices to the places that meet your specific needs. They help families evaluate issues such as care requirements, finances, and amenity preferences.”

If you do find that your loved one is living in an inappropriate senior community, don’t be afraid to admit that you may have made the wrong decision. It’s better to pivot and make a change rather than digging into a situation that isn’t going to work out in the long run.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.

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A Place for Mom