By Ron Hollowell
For many elderly couples who continue to live in their home, the thought of preparing for their lives together in an assisted living facility may not be an immediate concern. Despite gentle prodding from family and friends, who often suggest a couple not wait for a crisis to begin searching for their new home, most couples delay their efforts to do so.
Peggy Mathews, administrator at Marymount Place, located within The Village at Marymount in Garfield Heights, said careful planning and education are two key components needed to begin your search for an assisted living community. It is a good idea to plan ahead for such a move and not to wait for when an unexpected health crisis makes the move a necessity, she said.
“I recommend that older adults tour assisted living communities in their neighborhood before they make a decision,” Mathews said. “Most people want to keep their same churches, banks, and physicians, as well as live at the same social/economic level. Doing so makes the transition easier to manage.
Mathews offers the following suggestions for selecting the right assisted living community:
● Tour the facility. Look for the right atmosphere, try the food, and attend an activity so that you get a true sense of the community. Be sure to look at your background -- social level, nationality, religious affiliation, and personal needs that must be met. You must determine if the facility can fulfill these needs.
● Assisted living is not for ill people or disabled people. It is for active, vital senior citizens who want to remain active without the worries and demands of home. The more independent you are the lower your monthly costs will be.
● Consider a community that offers multiple levels of housing options to allow movement within the community when the need for a higher level of care arises.
● Plan your finances. Research the housing market in your neighborhood. Today, with the slowing housing market, you may need to have advice on bridge loans or reverse mortgages. Review your income, Social Security, pension, and interest on investments. Look at you assets and current interest rates.
● Educate yourself on government support for assisted living. Find out about Veterans Administration support for qualified individuals, as well as a surviving spouse. The Medicaid Waiver Program also is available in some communities. Government support has qualifiers and requires an application period and process.
● If you have long-term care insurance it may also cover assisted living. Check your policies.
● Update your Will. Consider a power of attorney for finances and health care.
“Moving out of your home is not a sign of a loss of independence,” Mathews said. “It is a smart decision to allow you the opportunity to enjoy your life free from worries and to continue an independent life style. Keep it simple and take it in steps. Planning is the key. If you do it ahead of time, you will be fine.”
Marymount Place offers a complimentary lunch and a tour of the facility. To schedule an appointment, call Karen Ann Schaefer at 216-332-1396.