Assisted Living

Woman in a scooter going along a cobblestone area with two women walking behind her.

5 tips: Choosing an assisted living center for people with limited mobility

Moving into an assisted living center is probably one of the biggest, most complicated, most important decisions you’ll make. That’s not hyperbole. Just think about the cascade of side effects that follow after.

It has huge implications for any wealth and assets you’ve accumulated during your life. Perhaps more important, it will probably dramatically change your family dynamic. Your kids and siblings will all have their own opinions about when and where you should go, or if you should go at all. That could lead to bickering or worse.

Maybe your home is the home base for the rest of your family.

It’s where everyone gathers for holidays and parties. You’ve got a tire swing out back that’s literally kept generations of kids occupied or some other fixture like that. Choosing to walk away from that can be heartbreaking no matter how necessary.

The following steps are by no means an exhaustive list. But they can be a starting point and a general checklist to make sure you get the important stuff.

At Pride Mobility, we understand that so many people who live in assisted living centers also rely on mobility scooters and power wheelchairs. So we wanted to join the conversation and offer some tools to make the transition easier.

These tips are directed toward would-be residents of assisted living centers, but caregivers can glean from it, too. In many instances, caregivers like children and siblings are a big part of the decision making process.

1. Explore alternatives

There’s more science than ever that people thrive better when they can age at home. Before deciding to make the dramatic move to assisted living, make sure that’s the only or absolute best option.

It might seem obvious, but often, when we’re in the moment, we don’t always think about alternatives, for example:

● Could I manage with a home health aide visiting regularly?

● Will a family member with enough space let me move in (and is that person willing to care for us, too)?

● Alternatively, is there a friend or family member who wants to move in with me?

● Can I modify my home with technology like cameras and smart speakers, and assistive fixtures like handrails, ramps and lifts that would be less expensive and let me stay at home?

● Are you moving there permanently? If your health is expected to rebound, plan for the shortest possible stay, just long enough to get well.

2. Get an advocate

If you have the means, an elder law attorney is probably the best advocate. Absent that, recruit a smart relative or family friend. Your advocate should be willing to stand by your side and help you weed through documents and get your affairs in order.

Even if you’re confident that you can manage on your own, an advocate offers a second set of eyes to make sure you’re getting the best deal. They help you fend off anyone who might take advantage of your transition, and make sure you find the right place to settle.

3. Figure out how you’ll pay for it

No secret here. You’ll have to pay for your new digs.

Assisted living is far more expensive than a typical apartment or condo — on the order of $30,000 to $70,000 per year. That’s because you’re also getting medical care and meals.

Medicare does not pay for assisted living. However, if you qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible, which still usually doesn’t pay for everything.

In most cases, family members chip in to pay for assisted living for a loved one. You may also need to sell some assets — like property or a home — to pay for it.

For those who plan ahead, in their working years, long-term care insurance will help you pay for your time at an assisted living center. It’s very expensive.

4. Find the right center

Finding that Goldilocks assisted living center comes easier if you have resources. Otherwise, price is more likely to be the leading consideration for all of your decisions.

But there are other elements to consider, like environment.

Start by checking ratings online. You want something close enough (or far away enough) to your family. Some other questions to ask include:

● Does the facility get enough natural light? Are there places to enjoy comfortably outside?

● How’s the food?

● Do your new roommates seem happy and well-cared for?

● What are the rooms like? Can you picture yourself spending a lot of time in them?

If you use a mobility device like a power wheelchair or mobility scooter, you’ll want to make sure the doors and hallways offer a wide enough berth to get through. Every assisted living center should be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, but that doesn’t mean some are easier to navigate than others.

5. Get your family in line

This should probably (and likely will be) be happening throughout your planning process. If you’re the one making the decision to move, make sure you talk to the important people in your life and help them understand why you’re doing it.

It’s easier to get consensus from everyone (and even more support) if they see you’re confident and unwavering about the decision.

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