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Choosing a senior community

Posted July 31, 2013 in Advice Column, Urbandale

I get so excited when families come through the door with lots of questions and have done their research.

There is so much that goes into considering a facility, whether it’s financial, emotional or physical, and you can never be too prepared or informed. However, there are some things I always advise families to find out in the beginning to help narrow down choices and save time.

One of the very first things I encourage families to find out is if the community you are looking into can provide for your loved one no matter what level of care he or she will inevitably need. While an individual may be appropriate for an assisted living community now, what happens when your loved one needs round-the-clock care, or needs specialized care due to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease? Can that facility you are looking into provide that care right there in the facility? And, if so, what are the cost differences in each level of care that is offered at that community?

Secondly, what are all the charges involved in moving a loved one into the facility? Are there any ancillary charges that may occur whether that is payment towards a special bed, toiletries, food etc.? Along with that, does the facility you are looking at accept Medicaid/Title 19? Don’t be afraid to ask for something in writing to ensure the continuation of care for your loved one whether it’s paid for privately or via Medicaid.

Last, but not least, what does the facility require upfront in order to continue with admitting to the facility? Is there a financial obligation due on move-in day or within so many days? By asking this question upfront you are fully aware of your financial obligation from day one. Be sure to inquire as to what any buy-in goes toward, if anything. Finally, be sure to find out what paperwork or medical requirements are needed in order to complete the process. Many facilities are required to have the individual complete a physical prior to admission. If you are looking for something in a hurry, you’ll want to be well prepared to get that physical and any other requirements completed in a short time frame if need be.

By asking these questions first and foremost, it will help you narrow down and choose a facility that best meets the needs of you and your loved one now and in the future, as well as help you conserve what finances you do have to live a healthy and well-cared-for life for many years to come. As always, be sure to ask all the questions you want and do plenty of research.

Information provided by Courtney Tiernan, community liaison director, Urbandale Health Care Center, 4614 84th St., Urbandale, (515) 270-6838.

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