Make us your home page
Instagram

Choosing senior housing a complicated, costly task

Trakista Wilkerson, a nurse at the Edgemere in Dallas, tends resident Fred Maurstad.  When researching facilities, evaluate cleanliness and appearance but also how helpful and friendly staff members are.

McClatchy

Trakista Wilkerson, a nurse at the Edgemere in Dallas, tends resident Fred Maurstad. When researching facilities, evaluate cleanliness and appearance but also how helpful and friendly staff members are.

One of the most difficult decisions a family faces is when to move an elderly family member into specialized housing. One of the first questions you must answer is what kind of care your family member needs. Virginia Traweek, of SeniorHousingMove.com, said there are essentially four different levels of care offered by senior living communities, and it's important to understand what each offers.

1. Independent living: 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. Costs can range from $1,000 to $3,000 a month, she said.

2. Assisted living: For seniors needing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating. Costs range from $3,000 to $5,500 a month.

3. Memory support/dementia care: For seniors with Alzheimer's or other diseases. Costs range from $3,000 to $5,500 a month.

4. Skilled nursing care: For seniors in the end stage of life who require care 24 hours a day. Costs range from $4,166 to $6,666 a month.

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

For a CCRC, the entrance fee ranges from $150,000 to $400,000, with 90 percent refundable when you move out, Traweek said. Monthly fees range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on whether the resident is single or in a couple and on the services provided.

"One of the most difficult things for family members is to be objective about the condition that their parents are in," said John Falldine, managing director of the Edgemere senior living community in Dallas.

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, their pricing and amenities can make it easier when you decide to move," said Traweek. Also, she notes, 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. "Is it clean? Does it smell good?" Falldine said.

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," said Lue Taff, geriatric care manager at the Senior Source, a Dallas nonprofit. "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.

"Talk with family members in the parking lot, because they will give you the real story," Taff said.

Understand the costs

Taff said 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?

"In independent living, is it possible to purchase additional services from an agency or program that offers help with things like getting to the dining room, helping with medications or doing extra laundry and housekeeping?" Taff said.

It's also important to know if there is an entrance fee to a community. This may also be known as a "buy-in" and can be substantial. Is the fee refunded after you move out or die? How long will your estate have to wait before getting the money back?

Ask about health care

"What hospital will you go to if they call 911?" Taff said. Are your loved one's doctors and hospitals within the range of the senior community's transportation services?

The bottom line: Never move your loved one into a place that makes you uneasy or doesn't feel safe.

Choosing senior housing a complicated, costly task 10/11/13 [Last modified: Sunday, October 13, 2013 7:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]