Monday, November 10, 2014

Basic Services of Assisted Living Communities

My husband and I had never been renters. Nevertheless, our daughter-in-law and I started out intending to tour the five ALCs recommended by our A Place For Mom personal contact. However, instead of scheduling a tour for each one on a separate day ~ as we should have ~ we crammed them into that day.

By the time Vickie parked at the last one just before dinner time, I was shaky from exhaustion. We stayed only long enough to be shown the one available apartment, which I declined.
I shared my enthusiasm about the first ALC with our family:
  • Dad can rent a garage to use for his woodworking projects. It's convenient to him using his Jazzy wheelchair.
  • Meals options, housekeeping, an assigned parking spot, and a garden plot are included.
  • A heated indoor pool, therapy, entertainment and activities. Transportation provided.
  • There are rentable accommodations for guests and a cabana on the landscaped grounds for private parties.
A few days later, when Art and I toured the community together, it still seemed a perfect choice. I couldn't imagine him saying the wonderfully arranged two bedroom, two bath apartment, situated as it is in the building wouldn't be agreeable for this change in our lives. Elevators seemed well placed in the three-story complex, and suitably sized for his power scooter, plus spacious enough to also accommodate a resident using a walker, and one or two more people. 
During subsequent meetings with the sales manager we'd asked for and gotten everything we'd need. Even though our contact at A Place For Mom sent us the standard list of questions to ask, instead of heeding the advice, we ignored it, confident that we'd covered all the basics.

We were extremely lucky and didn't reap disastrous consequences. 
Mimi's kitten portrait. She's elderly now, like us.
Our pet was welcome, too! For a non-refundable fee of $375, Mimi, our precious cat could share the apartment and its private balcony with us.
The little plaque, "It belongs to the cat. We just pay the mortgage", would hang above the apartment door knocker, with Mimi's portrait below.
We did however learn we should have done more than casual inspections before signing the apartment rental agreement. During our tour, we'd focused mainly on the floor plan, which was adequate for Art's motorized scooter. We overlooked things we should have noticed. Fortunately, they were minor, easily resolved, maintenance issues. 
The apartment had remained vacant for two years after being renovated, when the first and only renter moved out. New appliances were installed in the laundry room and the kitchen, attested to by boxes still awaiting removal when the apartment was offered to us. New carpeting was freshly vacuumed. 
When the maintenance crew replaced washing machine hoses that had been 'borrowed', we all laughed when they said, "This apartment became 'the go to supply' when something was needed." 
As I said earlier, we were lucky. Nevertheless, don't count on getting lucky. Do your homework before deciding which ALC is right for you.
At A Place For Mom, here is where you can learn about the differences between the variety of assisted living accommodations available today, plus an explanation of the basic services. scroll to General at the bottom for a list of links to options.
It is particularly important to check out the type of license they have, level of care, and/ or services provided. Equally important is understanding the limitations of provided service, as well as what is not provided. Allow yourself plenty of time, and visit and inspect more than one assisted living community. 
Print a copy of the checklist, provided at A Place For Mom, of questions to ask. Make a copy to take along to  each ALC you visit.

Assisted Living Federation of America, ALFA, is an online website that can also help you avoid disappointments, and potentially very costly mistakes. Scroll to the end here where you'll find a link to print a .PDF copy of the website's checklist of things you can ask about. Take time to study it, and write out your list of questions.
Make a copy to take along to each ALC you tour and consider. is another excellent resource for people looking for assisted living information and options. You'll find five additional important questions, with expert answers, here

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