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Sometimes You Have To Put The Voice of Reason Aside To Make A Senior’s Holiday Dream Come True

My client was the son of a 72 year-old woman who had suffered a stroke within the last six months. She had been placed at an excellent assisted living community that I had used for several clients in the past. After the stroke, she needed some help with her activities of daily living. Her son had indicated that he wanted to move her due to the high price being charged at the community. He was bearing most of the expense. He asked that I come and visit with her in order to hear her side of the story.

When I went to assess her in the lobby of the current community (at the son’s request), I found a well-dressed woman who was totally independent and had all of her faculties. When I asked her why she was in assisted living, she told me about the stroke. The physician who practiced at the community originally would not release her to the independent living level of care.  She felt the woman needed medication supervision.  But, my client proved her wrong. Then on review of my client’s case, the physician reversed the decision and approved her her to live in the independent living area.

However, my client didn’t want to remain at the current community. She had met a boyfriend there, and he had recently moved to a competing independent living community. She wanted to move there too.  As the conversation developed, she shared that her boyfriend wanted her to move in with him because his memory was getting bad, and he wanted someone to take care of him.

As the story unfolded, the son and I looked at each other and we both had to hold back our laughter. I told her that as long as she could get something from the physician in writing stating that she was independent living material, that it was probably OK to move. But, I had also been made privy to her financial situation prior to the meeting. Her income was enough to cover her rent and living expenses at the independent level, but not at the assisted living level. I made the suggestion that she look into the supportive living program, which is the assisted living program supported by Medicaid. She reacted vehemently against this suggestion stating that she and several of the other residents had gone on some tours of the local supportive living communities and found them depressing. I immediately corrected her and told her that the supportive living program had saved many of my clients. I indicated to her very firmly that she needed to look at several more of them, along with some Medicaid friendly nursing homes lest her health become worse. The son looked relieved as I gave her the names of my recommendations. I had clearly accomplished the mission of spelling out what was going to happen to her if she couldn’t function in independent living.

In the meantime, the woman’s boyfriend emerged from the revolving door and sat down to join us. When I asked him why he had moved to the competing community. He told me that he had lived at the old community (the one where my client currently lived) for 3 years in the assisted living area and due to an accounting error, they had not charged him for 3 years. When he informed them that he couldn’t pay the bill, he was asked to leave. The son and I again looked at each other and had to hold back our laughter.

Although I’m not a marriage counselor, I cautioned her against moving in with the boyfriend, which she didn’t do. I understand that she and the son chose an apartment at the new independent living community, but also had appointments to look at the supportive living and nursing homes that I had suggested. Therefore, the holidays will proceed happily, with a plan in place.