Articles Posted in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

Published on:

About one-half of the clients who engage me for my services do so after they have already selected a community for a loved one. Then, when a problem arises, they call me to help fix the problem. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball and can anticipate some of the unusual circumstances that can arise. Most of the time, clients are so pre-occupied with fixing the senior living problem that exists now, they do not consider what can happen in the future. Clearly no one is to blame, as it is always what we do not anticipate that causes a problem.

Real-Life Story

My clients were the children of a senior aged 78. She had been placed at a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that offered Independent Living, Assisted living, Assisted living with a memory care unit, and Skilled Nursing care. She had a lovely apartment in the independent living area that required an entrance fee of more than $200,000 when she moved in.

Published on:

Many seniors have a tendency to keep private their financial realities. However, if your senior loved one purchased long-term care insurance to cover the costs of a stay in a community or to hire non-medical home care, you will want to ask if you can look at it. I say this based on the experience I had with my mother, and I share our story lest you should have the same experience.

My mother purchased a long-term care policy 25 years ago. I was amazed that the insurance carriers were able to underwrite her at age 70. Thankfully, she was well enough to pass the underwriting since she had no serious medical issues at the time. However, the agent who sold the policy to her (and who had bragged that she was the number one producer at her company) was not exactly prudent when designing the structure of the plan for a claim that could occur in the far future. The plan that was sold to my mother included a 90-day waiting period before any benefit would be paid. Such waiting periods are common. The plan maximum paid up to $100 per day. That, too, was all right for a plan that was purchased 25 years ago. However, the agent neglected to sell my mother her an inflation guard benefit which would increase her plan’s benefit by 3-4% per year. If an inflation guard benefit had been included, the benefit she would receive would be much more in line with the currents costs charged by her senior living community. The bottom line is, based on the plan purchased 25 years ago, my mother will receive a benefit that will cover $3,000 of her $6,000 monthly cost.

While I am thankful she had the policy, it would have been more valuable if the inflation coverage had been included at its inception. If you know or suspect your aging loved one has purchased a long-term care policy, ask if you can sneak a peek at it!

Published on:

I remember fifteen years ago when I started as an Admissions and Marketing Director in the senior living industry, my future boss took me on a complete tour of the community. Or so I thought.

The community included independent living, where most of the seniors were well off mentally and ambulated with, at worst, a cane. The next level of care was assisted living, which at the time was an extension of independent living. But, the residents at that level received “standby” assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, eating, and walking. At worst, seniors there ambulated with the help of a walker. No wheel chairs were allowed. Last, there was nursing home level, or the dreaded fifth floor that was reserved for residents who could no longer function at the independent living or assisted living level. Most were in wheel chairs and needed total assistance with their activities of daily living. Or, some suffered memory impairment and were at risk for wandering. The fifth floor was equipped with a security code for the elevator and an alarm for those residents who might attempt to leave unattended.

When my boss conducted the tour, he showed me the independent living and the assisted living areas, both of which were places where the residents appeared to be happy. However, after I began working there, I was sent to complete a task on the fifth floor where the residents needed total assistance with everything. Being new to the industry, I was like many of my clients taking a tour of a nursing home for the first time. I was nervous and terrified! I rushed down to my boss’s office and told him that I was exceedingly upset that I was not told that the fifth floor existed. As time went on, I grew to love the residents on the fifth floor. There we were encouraged to take a break from the regular tasks of the day, attend scheduled activities, or just talk.

Published on:

Here are five easy steps to help convince your loved one who needs to move:

1. Enlist the child, sibling, or friend who is closest to the senior to initiate the conversation. The senior needs to hear the message from the right person.

2. ​Plant the seeds in very short, non-threatening messages. For example, “Gee, I noticed that you are having a little trouble getting yourself dressed. Don’t you think you would benefit from a little help?” Change the message at the right moment at the next attempt. “I noticed you have been eating a lot of cold cereal instead of a meal. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone cook your meals for you?” Space out the messages and deliver them at the opportune times. It may take months for a senior to decide you are right.

Published on:

When you have completed the daunting task of choosing the right senior living community for your loved one, your next mission will be to prepare for his/her move. It is very likely that the senior will be moving to an apartment or room that will be much smaller than his/her current living arrangement. Decisions will need to be made as to which items the senior will discard, donate or keep. All of us tend to have difficulty parting with “keepsakes” to which we have emotional attachments; accordingly, it may be a wise decision to utilize the services of a professional organizer when your senior moves.

Sue Becker is a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She has worked side by side with my senior clients (including those with dementia) to help them with the highly emotional task of sorting through years’ worth of keepsakes and papers and deciding which items to keep.

Keepsakes: Turn Your Muddled Mess into Meaningful Memories

Published on:

My clients are a couple ages 78 and 80. The couple’s daughter had called me and tearfully related the story of how her parents were looking at senior living options, most of which would not fill their long-term needs. Like many of my clients, they had lost a significant amount of money in the most recent economic crisis, and they were living in a condominium where they could not afford to stay. The daughter feared that they would run out of money and be forced to move to a Medicaid community in the future. She pleaded with me to call her mother and set up an appointment to talk to them.

When I called, her mother curtly told me that they were still driving, had their faculties, and were able to evaluate the senior living communities on their own. Furthermore, they couldn’t afford services like mine. I assured her that I have lots of flexibility with the way my services are structured, and I could design a consultation that fit their budget. She said “no thanks,” and hung up.

When I relayed the situation to the daughter, she said that she would convince her parents to set up an appointment with me. To this day, I don’t know what the daughter said to her parents, but within a few days, I had an appointment set.

Published on:

Many times my stories revolve around the child of a senior who hires me to solve a parent’s senior living problems. The terms of my real life story are a little bit different this time.

My clients were a couple ages 80 and 78, respectively. They lived on the east coast, but grew up in the Chicago metro area. Like many grandparents, they wanted to move back to the Chicago suburbs to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

When I met with this couple, I was pleased to find two very polished, excessively independent individuals. One member was still working in an artistic capacity. They were more than open to sharing their financial realities with me. Their annual income was more than ample, and their net worth was well in excess of $1 million. They also had long-term care insurance.

Published on:

There are many occasions when my clients hire me as a second set of eyes and ears once they have completed the first round of tours at senior living communities. Most of the time my clients are in emergency situations. Sometimes they have selected a community and are prepared to act upon their decision, but they use me as a sounding board for their concerns. Here are two example situations where my clients were unaware of the types of questions they should have been asking:

Real-Life Story 1

My client was looking to place a loved one in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (a community that has independent living, assisted living, and a skilled nursing home all on one campus). In my client’s opinion, the senior was currently at the independent living level. I had not yet met the senior, so therefore I was unable to verify that assessment. However, during our conversation, there were indications of some health concerns that made me suspicious that the senior was more appropriate for assisted living. The client had toured a large number of senior living communities and was leaning toward selecting one in particular. I indicated to my client that if the senior was to enter at the independent living level, that was fine. But, I had knowledge that the assisted living area had a ratio of Certified Nurse Assistants to Residents of 1 to 20. Such a ratio is not acceptable for a community that is delivering a large amount of hands-on care to its residents. I advised my client to question the Admissions Director about the ratio I shared with my client.

Published on:

After a long and often gray winter, it is wonderful to start seeing green again – whether it is the lively colors of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the first signs of daffodils and tulips, or early Easter decorations.   Spring is rightly associated with fresh starts and new beginnings, and so it might well be a good time to discuss senior living options for the older individual or couple in your life.

Many families have seen a senior loved one’s health decline over the course of winter, or watched with concern as “the house seems to be getting away from Mom and Dad’s ability to keep up with it.”  Hence, spring might be the time to suggest a fresh look at senior living options available in your area.

Here are three tips to keep in mind if you are trying to convince a senior to move or are merely attempting to bring up this sometimes-delicate subject:

Published on:

089I remember when I received a phone call from an 82-year-old client who was crying piteously. She needed to move to a senior living community because the upkeep on her house was just too burdensome. She was terrified that she could not take her 80-pound Labrador with her. In addition, she wanted to continue to send the dog to the same doggy day care organization on a daily basis because the dog loved the socialization with the other dogs.

Although my initial phone calls to area senior living communities were met with some raised eyebrows from several of the Admissions Directors, I was able to find my client a beautiful apartment with a sliding back door and a backyard. She could lead the dog straight out the back door. In addition, it was within the specified distance so the doggy day care bus could still pick up the dog!

Generally, here are the rules regarding pets at senior living communities:

  1. Although a dog weighing under 40 pounds is typically not an issue, you can use some bargaining power for dogs that are bigger. Many independent living communities are not full. Most Admissions Directors will be willing to accept a dog as long as the senior can take care of it and it is well-behaved. Cats are not a problem.
  2. Assisted living communities (non-memory care) are willing to accept a dog or cat as long as some provision is made to take care of the animal. Many places charge an annual fee, up front, to assist with taking care of the pet.
  3. If your loved one needs to move to a nursing home, you need to make other arrangements for a pet. Many nursing homes have a community dog or cat. But, you will have to make arrangements to have your loved one’s dog visit.

Continue reading