When I am asked to place a couple that is looking for a 2-bedroom apartment in assisted living, I often cringe. That is because when the assisted living areas of many of the communities were built, the plans just didn’t include many 2-bedroom options. The majority offer only studios or one-bedrooms. Some communities offer nothing but studios. Those places that offer the option of a 2-bedroom apartment assisted living usually are full with a waiting list. In one instance, the Administrator at a senior living community went as far as knocking down a wall between 2 studios in order to accommodate my clients (a couple) so they could stay together. Timing and luck play a huge part in finding a 2-bedroom in assisted living, as illustrated in my Real Life Story.
Real Life Story
My clients were a couple in need of two different levels of care. Although both individuals had significant health issues, one was able to remain at the independent living level of care. The spouse had experienced several hospitalizations and needed assisted living. The couple hired me at the suggestion of their children. This was a second marriage for both members of the couple.
During my work on this case, I found myself doing a significant amount of mediating between all of the members of the blended families. One spouse had more money than the other. The wife wanted the estate to go to her child upon her death rather than to her spouse. The husband’s child confided to me that her father had contributed significant time, money, and care during the marriage, and she felt that was not fair toward her father. During my initial assessment, I had to ask questions about the couple’s financial realities. At that point, the couple asked all of the children who were present to leave the room.
While I was reviewing the couple’s finances, I found out that they had visited one of the newer assisted living communities in the area. One spouse was gung ho on moving there because of its proximity to current doctors and other medical providers. While newer places always look attractive to prospective residents because they are new and aesthetically pleasing, I always caution my clients that new communities will always have kinks to work out until the machine is well oiled. A process like that could take months or even years to begin running smoothly. In addition, I checked with the organization to find out what the staffing ratio was in the assisted living area. It was one Certified Nurse’s Assistant to every 15 residents, which is not very good. In addition, I always encourage my clients to consider moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community, i.e., a community with all three levels of care – independent living, assisted living, and a skilled nursing home – on one campus. This is particularly important in instances where couples are involved, so they will not be separated in instances when one spouse’s health becomes worse.
After contacting at least 13 places regarding the availability of a 2-bedroom apartment in assisted living, only three of the communities had an apartment available at the time. After touring all three, my clients elected proximity to their current medical practitioners as their deciding factor.
Proximity to health care and other services is indeed an important factor when considering senior living options. It is, however, just one among many – very many. ADSLA exists to help individuals and couples navigate not only their unique financial circumstances and family dynamics, but also the complex world of senior living options. We’re happy to help you as well!