Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility

by Jessica A. Hayes, Esq.

Determining which assisted living facility is right for you or a loved one can be a daunting task. There are so many decisions to make, factors to consider, and options to choose from. Here are a few tips to help you narrow your options.

  • Consider your current and future care needs.

What are your current health issues, and what do you currently need assistance with? How will that change in the future? Speak with your doctor for assistance in determining what level of care you may need if your current health conditions progress, then choose a facility that will be able to meet your future care needs, to avoid the need for a move in the near future. For example, if you have recently been diagnosed with dementia, but it is still in its early stages, it would be advantageous to select a facility that offers memory care and will be able to support you if and when the disease progresses. Be realistic about the level of care you may need in the future.

  • Get recommendations from trusted sources.

Speak with friends and family – and an elder law attorney – about their experiences with local assisted living facilities. You may find that a beautiful, expensive facility does not always treat its residents well, or has severe deficits in other areas, whereas a less flashy facility may have a more caring staff, less restrictive policies, etc. Don’t base your decision on a facility tour that highlights what the facility wants to highlight; do a little research to determine its true strengths and weaknesses.

Virginia’s Department of Social Services has an excellent search tool online that can help you identify facilities by location and look up reported violations at each facility. That search tool can be accessed at http://www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/search/alf.cgi.

  • Understand the costs and make a plan for payment.

Does the facility require a large down payment or buy-in up front, or simply a monthly payment? What does the monthly fee cover? How much does each additional level of care cost, and what type of care is provided at each level? Is laundry included? Facilities vary in their rates and billing methods. Ask questions to ensure you understand completely what you will be expected to pay and what that will cover. Next, determine how you will pay for your care expenses. Will you be using a long-term care insurance policy, drawing from an investment account, or selling your home to cover the costs? Will you qualify for the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit available through the Department of Veterans Affairs? What steps will you need to take to qualify for that benefit? Speak with an elder law attorney for assistance in creating a plan to cover your assisted living expenses.

  • Consider seeking professional assistance.

Hook Law Center’s attorneys and long-term care paralegals are familiar with local facilities, and we often hear from clients who are happy with their facilities or who believe their facilities leave much to be desired. We routinely provide suggestions of facilities for clients to consider, and sometimes we recommend enlisting the assistance of a geriatric care manager in locating a facility that is the best fit for you.

For assistance in identifying and evaluating your assisted living facility options, contact the Hook Law Center today at 757-399-7506.

Kit Kat

Ask Kit Kat – Drooping Trees

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, is it really true that some trees droop or rest at night?

Kit Kat:  Well, I hadn’t thought much about it, really. However, some research is pointing to just that phenomenon. In a recent study, birch trees were examined in Finland and Austria. It was a small study, but great care was taken to make the conditions similar. The canopies of the 2 trees—one in each location—were scanned with lasers starting at sunset until sunrise at several different intervals during one night. Both locations had similar weather—no rain, hardly any wind, and occurred during the solar equinox, so that the length of darkness was similar in each location. Results were published in Frontiers in Plant Science. This is what they found. ‘Close to sunrise, the branches were hanging lower than at the time of sunset. … The movements were observed to happen systematically over a time span of several hours, which ruled out occasional wind effects.’

Scientists have two hypotheses to possibly explain this action, but more research will need to be done to support why this is actually happening. At this point, it is a step forward to realize that some trees actually do droop or relax in the wee hours of the night. I myself have noticed such a phenomenon with weeping willows. However, back to the hypotheses: 1) there may be a loss of internal water pressure which occurs when trees are not engaged in photosynthesis, a mostly daytime activity or 2) the trees may just be resting as their circadian rhythms slow like other flora and fauna. During daylight hours, plants tilt toward the sun to catch the most rays, but at night, this high-energy position is not warranted. Stay tuned as scientists learn more about trees—our largest plants. (Amy Ellis Nutt, “When trees droop at night, they might actually be ‘sleeping,’ ” Speaking of Science, The Washington Post, May 20, 2016)

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