Difficult conversations are a natural part of being a family, but that doesn’t make them any more pleasant. You care so much about the person you are speaking with, and yet you have to tell them some hard truths. That is the place that people find themselves in when they feel the need to bring up the possibility of sending a loved one to an assisted living program.
What Are Assisted Living Facilities?
There are more than one million older American adults who live in assisted living facilities. These are special housing arrangements that provide 24-hour care for seniors who don’t require extensive medical treatment. These facilities staff people who know how to take care of a senior in a medical emergency, and they receive training on things like CPR, how to use CPAP equipment, and how to use a defibrillator machine. Each of these elements of the job is extremely important to care for the older population.
These facilities sound pretty nice to a lot of people, but it’s still hard to talk with someone about the right time to sign up for assisted living. People are often resistant to it as they feel that their freedoms and rights may be under threat if they agree to start living in one of these facilities. That is not actually the case, but it is still troubling to a lot of people to contemplate the idea that they may belong somewhere that provides them with care. A conversation about this change requires a delicate touch.
Is Your Loved One Able to Perform Daily Tasks?
When you visit with your loved one who is of advanced age, are they able to perform normal daily activities without your assistance? If there have been some issues in that area, then the time to have a conversation about assisted living facilities is now. Again, your loved one may put up some resistance to the idea at all. They may insist that they are not having problems and that things are getting blown out of proportion, but you need to keep a level head on about things and try to explain that you are only doing what you think is best for them.
Does Your Loved One Have Their Health Needs Covered?
Another area to explore when trying to figure out how to best provide care for your loved one is to look at their health care needs and how those may or may not be covered at this time. A Medicaid planning firm may provide a lot of useful insights in that realm. They can take a look at the planning process that has gone into getting your loved one set up with the care that they need from an insurance standpoint. If it turns out that they have some missing coverage or they need additional care that they are not actively receiving, then it might be time to look at getting them onto a government insurance plan that they qualify for. If they already receive Medicaid, then it is a good idea to see which facilities are covered by these policies.
Most assisted living facilities accept Medicaid plans as these are the primary plans used by seniors who are the primary users of their services. They would be unwise not to accept these plans since that is how most of their clients need to pay them. That said, it is still a good idea to double-check everything before making assumptions about what a facility will or will not do.
While you are spending some time looking over those plans, you should also try to check on the specifics that the plans cover:
- Do they offer dental cleaning services for your loved one?
- Could your loved one receive assistance from someone working for a travel nurse agency if they needed to?
- What is the deductible on the plan?
- Are prescription medications covered?
These are a few of the things that you simply cannot miss when you are going over a plan like this with someone who is of advanced age and has many health needs. You don’t want to put them in a situation where they can’t get the help that they need right when they need it. If you do that, they are likely to feel betrayed and may not want to speak with you at all again in the future. It may sound dramatic, but that is actually the level that some of these situations can get to if you are not careful. You should be very gentle about how you approach such concerns.
Questions To Ask About Any Assisted Living Facility
You are not in the wrong for wanting to have some questions answered as far as an assisted living facility is concerned. There is a lot that could potentially go wrong in one of these facilities if you are not careful about checking them out ahead of time. If you go into the process with a clear mind about finding the right place for your loved one, then you will stand a far better chance of getting them into the kind of facility that they can actually benefit from.
Has the Facility Generated Any Serious Negative Headlines?
The very first question that you have to ask about assisted living facilities is if they are good enough for your loved one in the first place. That is to say, have these facilities generated negative headlines or press for themselves that you should be aware of? That might seem a little paranoid to think about in some respects, but it is actually not. Unfortunately, many facilities have had major issues that have surfaced in the press that they would probably rather you didn’t know about.
Patient neglect and abuse are major issues at senior living facilities. These tragedies often happen because the staff is ill-prepared for how to handle the requests that their clients put to them. It is not fair that the people who live there have to suffer as a result of poor training provided by management, but that is often how things play out. Sadly, this sometimes means that certain patients don’t receive the care that they deserve, and it can even mean that the law has to get involved in certain situations. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, please contact the best family attorney that you can find right away. They are in the business of protecting those who are unable to protect themselves, and this certainly includes the senior population. What they know is that many people feel that they can do whatever they want to do to seniors and get away with it, but attorneys know that is not the case. They will take the case to court to win justice for the seniors that they represent if necessary, and they have a strong track record of winning those cases.
If you should ever find yourself in court as a result of your loved one not being cared for properly, be prepared to get a medical malpractice expert witness and anyone else who may be helpful to the team to back up any claims that you want to make against the facility. The facilities bring it upon themselves when they behave in a manner like this, and they should be made to pay for their negligent actions when it arises to that. Therefore, it is up to you to make sure they do actually suffer the consequences of their actions when they don’t do as they are supposed to do.
Can the Facility Help Your Loved One Get Moved In?
Moving is often a big ordeal for the individual who is going to be living in an assisted living facility. This is because they have to come to grips with the fact that they will need to get all of their possessions together and relocate into this new space that they will share with many other people. Also, many older adults have accumulated a great number of possessions in their lifetime, and this can increase the burden of the challenge that lies before us when we try to do what we can to help them get settled into a new way of living.
When a facility partners with commercial moving services that their new clients can use, this shows that they are going above and beyond to make it easier for their clients to get into the space that they will soon call home. It is a small thing that can change the way that people see the facility they are moving into, but it can make a big difference in the lives of those who are nervous about getting moved.
The moving service should be fully licensed to do what they do, and they should have assurances that they will be able to move valuable goods such as jewelry and other possessions that an older adult might have. You don’t want to deal with the potential for theft in these situations, and that is why you always want to check on the reputation of the service that has been recommended before agreeing to use their services.
Does the Facility Provide Adequate Medical Care?
Checking on the medical abilities of the facility under consideration is a very good idea. The problem with just assuming that adequate medical care will be provided is that sometimes it is not. Certain facilities provide no medical care at all beyond calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency, but others have partnered with travel nurse agencies to have staff available around the clock for the people who live there. The places that provide more medical care are also going to cost more as a result, but at least they are doing their part to make sure people are protected and safe while they are staying in the facility. It would be a tragedy to have someone become hurt and maybe even lose their life as a result of not having medical care available to them when they are in the facility, but this does happen sometimes.
There is a delicate balance between getting your loved one the medical care that they need and overpaying for excessive care that is not of use to them. You should try to have a frank discussion with your loved ones about what their medical needs really are and how you might best take care of those needs for them. You might need to seek out the maximum amount of care in the facility possible, or you may find that they are most healthy and able to do everything on their own. Go into this conversation with a critical eye, and try to see which way things are really going.
Is the Facility Welcoming and Friendly?
Finally, it wouldn’t make much sense to send your loved one into a facility that you didn’t feel was welcoming and friendly for them. If they land in a place that doesn’t have those things going for it, then it is possible that they won’t want to stay there very long at all. You should try to look at the reputation that the facility has and see if it is really the kind of place that you want to send your loved one. If you have reservations about any part of it, then hold off until you can find a better option. Sometimes, trusting your gut in these matters is what you should do. There is a reason why your intuition is speaking out so loudly to you, so make sure you don’t ignore it.
Spend some time looking around the grounds and speaking with some of the residents who already live there. Try to imagine how you would feel if you were placed in a facility like this, and then come to a decision after speaking with your loved one about their feelings about the situation as well. You should feel at peace in your heart with whichever decision you ultimately make.