My mother-in-law is currently in a secured memory care community. The price is very high – $6750 for 30 days of respite care. If we don’t move her within two weeks, the community fee for a permanent stay will be $10,000 and her monthly fee will be $9,000 a month. Are you kidding me? Who can afford this?
She was living in her own home six weeks ago, but a crisis you can read about HERE has left her adult children scrambling to find a permanent solution for my mother-in-law.
My husband, Chris, and I work in the senior housing profession, so who is better than us to evaluate the choices. We flew 1000 miles yesterday to be the experts on the ground in Seattle. We are going to visit three memory care communities today and one or two tomorrow. The best way to evaluate and compare retirement communities is in a short span of time. The crème always rises to the top.
We can’t base our decision on what the community looks like, the size of the rooms or the wonderful sales person. We are going to dig deeper and ask the following questions of each memory care community:
- What is the staff turnover? We want to see longevity of staff – particularly in the administrator, nurse, caregivers and possibly the chef.
- Do the staff and residents look happy? We will talk to some of each.
- What will be my mother-in-laws quality of life? What programming is offered? How often does live entertainment come in the building? How will they minimize her anxiety?
- How many hours does the nurse work per day? Twenty-four hours will always be the best answer, but you get what you pay for.
- What is the procedure if my mother-in-law falls? When my mom was in an assisted living community with dementia, every fall led to a terrifying emergency room (ER) visit that was stressful for her. If a nurse is on shift around the clock, it may save my mother-in-law from this stress. If the fall happens at 2:00 am and only a caregiver is on staff, the call to 911 will almost always lead to the terrifying ER visit.
- Do doctors come and visit my mother-in-law here or does she have to be driven to her doctor? Who will do that? Will someone accompany her? What are the costs?
- We will discuss my mother-in-law’s dietary needs and meet the chef. When my mother-in-law was in the hospital, she became incontinent. We hope it is not permanent and assume the diarrhea was from feeding her too many raw vegetables and fruit. She has not eaten those in years because of too much radiation after colon cancer. So it is important that we advocate for her in this regard. Just incontinence can cost an additional $1,000 a month.
- What is the initial community fee? What is the current monthly cost for room, board and care? What is the maximum cost it could potentially be? What are the additional costs? What have we not asked that could cost extra? What happens when someone is broke and can’t pay these hefty fees? We need to find out if the memory care community charges for my mother-in-law’s care by points, levels of care, or is all-inclusive. Pricing can be very grey and it is easy to be confused. Even us experts will have to see beyond the sales “smoke and mirror” answers.
- What is the history of their year over year monthly increases? We can’t just look at affordable costs today, but what if my mother-in-law lives for years?
- Is the room furnished? Do we just bring personal affects? Do we need to go buy a twin bed, TV or special chair?
- How do they handle hearing aids and glasses? My mother-in-law has two hearing aids that she has not used in six weeks.
- What is their procedure in contacting the family to give updates or let us know of a change in our loved one’s health?
- Is there anything that we should have asked but did not?
We will look at the entire memory care community space, her possible room and the outside walking area. I will keep you posted on our family evaluation and pricing for these communities. Hopefully, sharing my experiences and tips can help you too.
Diane Masson’s new guide book for seniors, “Your Senior Housing Options,” will be available next week on Amazon.com. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter on the right side of this blog, you will be notified when this valuable resource can be purchased. Check out my new website: Tips2Seniors.com or please follow me on Facebook.
Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating. The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum. Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy. Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets. She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states. Currently, Masson is setting move-in records as the regional marketing director of two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.