Learning how to find an assisted living community for your parent can be overwhelming. Keep it simple by starting with the ABCs. You just received that horrible call from the ER that your mother is in the hospital due to a fall. You race to the hospital to find out she shattered her hip, needs surgery, and will not be able to return home for quite some time, if ever. What do you do? Where do you go? Keep it simple by starting with the ABCs.
Authorization – Determine who can make decisions medically and financially for your mother while she is unable to do so. Hopefully, your mother has already given you or another sibling Power of Attorney to make decisions on her behalf. If not, make an appointment with the family attorney to have documents drawn up granting you authorization while your mother is mentally able to do so. Also, make sure someone has access to pay personal bills on her behalf while she is hospitalized or incapacitated.
Budget – Determine what your mother can afford to cover monthly expenses at an assisted living
community and how long she will be able to sustain this expense. Below are several areas to investigate to help you come up with a budget.
- Social security and retirement income
- VA Aid and Attendance benefits and if eligible
- Cash value of a life insurance policy
- Long term care insurance policy
- CD’s, stocks, bonds, and bank accounts
- Selling or renting of real estate property
Care – Determine the level of care requirements by speaking with your mother’s doctor, nurse, and
physical therapist. Most likely a short term stay in a rehab facility will occur after she is discharged from a hospital. The staff at the rehab hospital will be able to give you guidance on the type of community that will be most appropriate. Not all assisted living communities are alike. Some locations staff with certified nursing assistants and qualified medication administration
personnel. Other locations have 24-hour nurses on staff seven days per week. Your mother’s care level will help you determine how “well-staffed” a location needs to be to accommodate her daily care requirements.
Now you have the authorization, know the budget, and have an informed opinion of your mother’s medical needs. Search the internet or contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of licensed communities in your area. Recommendations from friends and religious organizations are a plus. Keep in mind while touring that:
- Location is important. Make sure that the community has easy access to doctor offices and hospitals.
- Socialization is important. Ask for a copy of an activities calendar to find events that your mother will enjoy and participate in.
- Stay for lunch. If your mother is going to live there, she better like what the chef makes.
- Follow your nose. Strong smells and unclean public bathrooms say a lot about a community.
- Meet the staff. Speak with them about their experience working with elders and how long they have been at their current location.
- Speak with caregivers as well as the directors of the community.
- Talk with residents. Most elders love to inform you of their likes and dislikes.
After touring, try narrowing your search down to two locations and share with your mom so she can be involved in the final decision. Having the Bs in place prior to starting your search will support you with the necessary education to tour the appropriate locations.
Carol Iten is the Sales and Marketing Director at Melody Living. Melody Living is an Assisted Living and Memory Support Community located off Tutt and Woodmen Road. Carol has 12 years of experience in the senior living industry and 20 years in the Colorado Springs real estate market. She is a certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and also holds a Professional Advancement Certificate in Gerontology for UCCS.