May 23, 2012: Allaboutestates.ca by Audrey Miller:
There are more and more retirement residence being built and navigating the maze of assisted living, retirement, and long term care homes can be a full time job. As a Geriatric Care Manager, I am often asked by families to help them understand the differences between retirement settings and long term care facilities and how to choose the best one for their loved ones.
My advice includes understanding the 3 C’s. In my order of priority.
My first ‘C’: CARE
-Is the condition chronic, temporary, progressive or palliative?
-How is the condition being medically treated and what course of treatment and outcome can be expected?
-Will the care needs increase over time?
Experience talking: So often families don’t plan ahead and a move is made based on a poor assessment of what their needs will be tomorrow. Many retirement residences are not equipped to deal with complex medical needs from either a physical or cognitive perspective
My second ‘C’: COST
-What will be the monthly cost?
o Do you know all of the current costs that are incurred monthly? Remember that food and lodging is part of the retirement residence cost with care often being available on an incremental basis
-What is the cost of the care component by itself?
o Consider nursing costs, services of a personal support worker, other therapies
o Medication monitoring and administration
o Special equipment that may be needed and its availability in the community?
Experience talking: Fully document your current monthly expenses so that costs can be compared appropriately.
My third ‘C’: CHOICE
-What geographic location do I want to live in- what geographic boundaries are acceptable?
-Do I want to be close to family, friends, religious organization, doctors?
-Do I want to be close to public transportation?
-Are pets welcome?
-Other personal taste and traits that should be considered ie, special diets, religious affiliation or cultural group.
-What amenities are available.
Experience talking: The expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ holds true for retirement and long term care settings as well. Care, staff and service are often more important than new walls or furnishings. Take time to talk to other families as to their experience.
Once a few places have been selected, I always encourage families to tour, ask questions, have a meal (most will happily invite you for lunch) and spend a little time at a community event that the facility is hosting. Trial stays for a few weeks or a month is also an excellent way to try before you buy.
Too often I receive calls after a move has been made as a few short months after the move, the facility advises that they can no longer accommodate your parent/spouse.
Lesson Learned: Speak to a professional so you can plan ahead wisely and know all of your options.