Adult Daycare


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There is a somewhat new model of senior caregiving that is growing in popularity; it’s called adult daycare.  The concept is just like you imagine: adults who have working caregivers can congregate, receive regular meals, and engage in some fun activities.  It works much like regular daycare in that you pay a fee per day, and that fee includes a specific set of services.

While the number of adult daycare facilities is relatively small compared to traditional retirement communities, there will likely be more open as this concept catches on.  If you’re in the market for adult day services, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are you regulated by the state?  If so, what is your standing with regulators?
  • What’s included in the daily price?
  • Are there any discounts for purchasing multiple days?
  • What sort of training and background checks do your employees undergo?
  • What activities do you have, and is participation required?
  • What happens if there is an emergency?

Like any other retirement community or facility, you’ll want to pay attention to your gut feelings as your take your tour.  Things like dirty tables and disgruntled staff can be a bad sign.  However, finding the right adult daycare can help provide caregivers with much-needed rest and relief.

Memory Care Communities

Elderly Caucasian woman in bedroom.

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If your loved one is having problems with Alzheimer’s or dementia and caregiving is becoming too much to handle, you might consider a memory care community: 

Memory care is specifically designed for dementia patients.  Most memory care communities are specifically laid out for patients suffering from dementia.  You’ll likely notice hallways designed so that there are no dead-ends.  There might be photo and memorabilia boxes on the walls to help residents find their rooms.  You might also notice locks on the exterior doors and windows to prevent residents from wandering.

Lots of memory care communities offer special activities for dementia patients.  Some research suggests that memory and brain function can be improved by doing certain activities like math and puzzles.  Although special programs for memory are a relatively new phenomenon, more communities are adopting memory-centered activities.

Not all memory care communities deal with the same levels of care. For instance, some patients become combative or sexually promiscuous and need different settings to be comfortable.  Most communities don’t have staff that are trained in handling these behaviors, so you’ll need to call around to find the right facility.  However, most communities will give you some idea of the services they offer when you call.

Pets and Senior Housing


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Pets are an important parts of our lives, and no one wants to leave Spot or Tabby behind when moving into a retirement community.  However, more and more communities are realizing that attracting residents means allowing them to keep their pets.  If you’re hunting for a retirement community, here are some things to keep in mind regarding your precious fur baby:

Ask if they allow pets. It sounds silly, but don’t delay moving into a retirement community just because you’re worried you might have to give up an animal.  It’s not uncommon to see a dog or cat (or even a bird!) in an assisted living or memory care community.  Having animals around helps calm residents and create an inviting atmosphere, so don’t be afraid to ask about a community’s pet policy.

Ask about their policies regarding pet deposits, noise, and pet waste removal.  If they do allow pets, they probably have some policy related to how management handles pets.  You don’t want any surprises after moving in, so make sure that you’ve read up on their policies and procedures.

Ask about their policies regarding orphaned pets.  If something happens to you, what happens to your animals?  In most cases, the animal will go to your next of kin or someone that you request.  However, you’ll need to confirm this before moving in so that your priceless pup doesn’t end up living with someone you wouldn’t approve of.

While having a pet at a retirement community isn’t extremely common, it’s becoming more mainstream.  If you want to bring your animal with you, then make sure that you have a thorough understanding of how the community handles pets and its policies related to their care.

Nursing Homes 101

nursing home

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When most people think of retirement communities, they are actually thinking of nursing homes, which are a specific type of facility that cares for people with very high needs.  If you think that your loved one needs to move into a nursing home, here are some things to know before you start your search:

Nursing homes provide nursing care around the clock. Compared to an assisted living or independent living where residents receive some services, nursing homes are staffed with nurses who have experience working with people who need high levels of care like wound care or special therapy.

Most nursing home visits are paid by Medicaid. Medicare will cover the first 100 days following hospitalization, but after that, you’ll need to apply for Medicaid, tap your long term care insurance policy, or pay out of pocket.

Nursing homes cost about $75,000 per year. The cost varies based on location and room configuration (private or semiprivate rooms), but nursing homes aren’t cheap.

Medicare and Medicaid rate nursing homes. Want to know what a professional inspector thought of the community? Check out Medicare’s site: Nursing Home Compare. It’s got ratings for every nursing home in the United States.  It’s free to use, and you can search by city.

Nursing homes are only one type of retirement community.  There are several other options (like independent living, CCRCs, assisted living, and memory care), but nursing homes provide the most care and are most suitable for patients with advanced diseases who need skilled nursing care around the clock.

Home Health 101

Open Front Door of a Home

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If you or a loved one have decided to stay at home as long as possible, there is something called “home health” care that can help delay the move into senior housing.  Here’s an overview of home health and what it can do for you:

There are two type so f home health: medical and non-medical. Non-medical home care ranges from just having someone to check in on occasion to assistance with activities of daily living like showering or getting dressed.  Medical home health includes things like dressing wounds after surgery and performing physical therapy.

You might have to pay for some of the care.  Medical home care is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.  However, non-medical home care is not covered.  If you want additional services that aren’t covered, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket.  Home care is typically billed by the hour, and prices range depending on what types of services are provided.

Even if you move to a retirement community, you’ll probably be receiving some type of home health. Even retirement communities are hearing the call of home health agencies since many communities don’t maintain the licensure necessary to provide that care.  Be prepared to receive a separate bill for home health if you move into a  community that doesn’t offer nursing or assisted living.

Home health can be a valuable tool for keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible.  Like any service, keeping a watchful eye can help prevent abuse or neglect by caregivers.  To find ratings for local home health agencies, you can check Medicare’s Home Health Compare.

Five Questions to Ask During your Visit


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On your visit to a new community, you’ll probably ask the salesperson about types of care offered, amenities and activities available to resident, and the cost of services.  Here are a few more questions that you might not have considered:

How many apartments are available? This question is very important in existing communities where a large number of empty apartments can signal management or financial problems. It normal for newer communities might have a larger number of vacant apartments, but pay attention to how fast they are filling up. Most communities should take less than 3-5 years to fill (although the number increases during recessions).

What is your pet policy? If you are an animal-lover, you’ll definitely want to know how the community handles pets.

When are payments due, and what are the procedures for making payments? It’s easy to rack up late fees and other penalties if you don’t understand the rules, so make sure that you know exactly how payments are handled.

If I need more care, how will the community handle making those arrangements, if at all? Some communities will help move you and your things to assisted living or nursing, should the need arise. Others will require your family members to coordinate. Knowing the policies and procedures ahead of time can save you a lot of trouble when it comes to finding higher levels of care.

What are my rights and responsibilities? States like Florida have a resident bill of rights.  Most states do not. Check with the community to see what resident rights are included in the contract, if any.  Communities that honor resident

Does the community background check and/or train its employees?  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  You want a community that does at least some training for all of its employees, especially ones that will be handling care.

What is the policy regarding staff giving potentially life-saving care? There was a recent case where a Brookdale employee basically watched a woman die because of corporate policy when it came to rendering aid.  While this is a relatively rare occurrence, you probably want to understand the policy, just in case.

Destination Retirement Communities


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Are you tired of shoveling snow?  Want to vacation and retire in a new place?

If that sounds like you, then you’re looking for what’s called “destination retirement.”  Due to its climate, southern states like Florida and Arizona are known as destination retirement locations.  Other states like South Carolina are also becoming known for their semi-warm climates and retirement-friendly accommodations.

If you’re looking for a destination community, here are a few tips:

Do your research first. The Internet is your friend in this situation. Search for communities in the city of your choice, and then narrow your search by calling and asking questions.

Visit the city when you’ve narrowed it down. Once you have your top two or three choices for retirement communities, book a trip and go see them. With some good planning, you can visit all three in a day or two, leaving more time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Go back during off-season. That beach that you loved during the summer might be a frozen nightmare during winter. Similarly, that warm spring day in Florida might give way to a muggy, humid night during August. So, consider going back a few times during different seasons to confirm that you can handle the climate.

Ask to try out the community before buying. Many communities offer a guest apartment to potential residents. Their policies vary, so make sure to call before booking your flight!

Consider renting if you’re nervous. Pulling the trigger on a new city and retirement community can be tough, but you don’t have to make an all-or-nothing decision. If you’re worried about making the decision, consider a more temporary living situation like an apartment in the area.

Destination retirement isn’t for everyone, but some people find it to be the perfect retirement adventure!

Retirement Community Warning Signs

Blank Danger And Hazard Triangle Warning Sign Isolated Macro

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I get asked all the time if there are things that someone should watch for during their visits to senior housing facilities.  While some communities can hide poor management or bad staffing, it’s very likely that you’ll notice some signs if there are any.  Here are the top things to watch for during your visit:

Foul odors.  Bad smells are a bad sign, especially in assisted living or nursing. You should be concerned if you can clearly smell urine or feces.  If it’s enough to make your stomach unsettled, there’s a good chance that you should leave.

Unhappy staff. Ultimately, a retirement community is only as good as its staff. Disgruntled worker can cause all sorts of problems, including stealing money or abusing residents. If the staff aren’t happy, then get out while you still can.

Empty apartments. It’s not always a warning sign, especially in new communities or during recessions. But, retirement communities that cannot keep their apartments full likely lose money. You don’t want to move in, only to have the place close six months later.  If a facility has 50% vacancy, ask them why.  If they are the only ones in town with that many vacant apartments, then you should do extra research to make sure that there aren’t problems or skip them entirely.

Lack of maintenance or attention to detail. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal to let the shutters go an extra year without being painted, delaying regular maintenance is a sign that management might be fine with waiting an extra day to bathe nursing home patients or brush their teeth.  Do extra research before moving into a facility where the small items are not fixed in a timely manner.

I wish that I could say that every single retirement community in America was safe, but that’s simply not true.  The truth is that consumers have to be wary of their senior housing choices.  While I hope I’ve drawn attention to some typical problems, the best thing that you can do to stay safe is simply to pay attention to your gut feelings.  If you don’t feel comfortable, then get out.

Finding Communities that Share your Beliefs


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If you have a strong religious preference and want to be around other seniors who share your faith, then you might look for a retirement community that is affiliated with or sponsored by your religious denomination:

Most communities welcome all faiths. As you might expect, retirement communities make more money by not limiting their residents to one type of faith.  Even communities that are sponsored by Jewish, Presbyterian, or other denominations, welcome residents of all faiths.

Some communities focus on one faith more than others. Some communities cater to specific religions by offering things like Kosher meals, Catholic mass, or other religious observances.  If these are important to you, make sure to ask the community marketing agent during your visit which activities and ceremonies are observed on campus.

Communities with religious affiliations aren’t automatically good. One of the most well-known bankruptcies in senior housing to date was a B’nai Brith-sponsored community.  All of the residents lost the right to their entrance fee refunds when the community was sold out of bankruptcy.  Just because the community is affiliated with your faith does not automatically mean that it is financially-stable or is a good place to live.

Overall, moving to a religious-affiliated community can be a good thing.  It depends on your personal preferences and the options available in the city where you will be moving.  You might also keep in mind that communities often offer shuttles to local religious centers.  Even if they don’t cater to your specific denomination, they might give you a free ride to services that fit your needs.