Transitions: Moving On…
by Ginger McMurchie, ECMNCA Owner & Care Manager
Welcome to part two of a three-part series discussing Transitions. Last month we talked about staying home safely and next month we will discuss when it is time to call in hospice. This month we will focus on how to decide when to make a move from your home.
With Fall fast approaching and another change of seasons, transitions are always around us. One of the least embraced transitions in our work is when our clients and families are considering a move from the family home to an independent senior community or assisted living.
Emotions run high when you are contemplating such a major life change and discussions become more difficult when you are forced to make the decision to move your loved one. We hope that we can offer you some supportive ideas that will make the transition from home to another setting more palatable.
First, start by having a conversation. Talk to family and friends and tell them what your wishes are. It is great to tell everyone that you want to stay home but someday that might not be realistic or feasible. Give your family a gift and go tour communities where you think you might want to live. Give them your feedback on the tours and tell them where you could see yourself living should the day come when you have to move.
Understand that the cost of living in independent and assisted living are primarily private pay, expenses paid out of family savings or income. There are a few other alternatives that may include long term care insurance, the Aid and Attendance Program for veterans and their spouses (a qualifying program that is duty and income-based), and a small state-funded program for low-income adults who are on Medi-Cal. You will find costs ranging from anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 per month based on what an individual’s care needs are for assisted living. Independent settings are generally less but will not have supportive services available should someone need hands-on care.
Consider location. Do you or your loved one want to be near family? Is there a family member living in another state that is a more affordable option? Be sure to cast a wide net when looking at settings as it may give you more communities to choose from. While many of us love our home state of California, it is not always the most affordable place to live.
Care needs will also play into choosing a community. For many families, an independent apartment with meals and housekeeping is all they need. But as we age and personal care needs increase, assisted living often becomes a necessity. Each community will typically have a base rate for a room or apartment. Where the unknown factor comes in is how they price the personal care. There are some settings that are all-inclusive with one set price while others charge per pill and task they do. As Care Managers, we always ask for a formal assessment by the community prior to notifying the family of price. Be aware that if you are making a sudden move out of the hospital, that you should ask to tour any community your loved one is sent to, ask for more than one setting to choose from and once you decide on a place, have the community come to the hospital to assess your loved one. You may feel pressure to move your loved one out of the hospital- slow the process down by asking for time to find the appropriate setting for your loved one to transition to. Be timely, know that your clock is ticking and you will need to be prompt in your decisions.
So, when is the right time to move? Here are a few scenarios.
You are finding that you or your loved one is unable to get around the house safely. Stairs and multi-level homes are no longer easy to navigate. Medications and food routines are neglected. Personal hygiene is left untended and increasing isolation are all good signs that a move would be indicated. If the primary caregiver is no longer able to care for themselves and are exhausted by the demands of care, then change becomes imminent. Caregivers often fail long before the ones they are caring for.
To summarize: talk to family, come up with a budget, tour local communities. Remember our adage, “create the toolbox you will need for the future,” and don’t make decisions during a time of crisis if you can help it.