Second, take these questions, along with the residence-specific questions that arose while reviewing the mailed materials, with you. As you and your loved one meet with staff and take a tour, pay attention to how you feel and your surroundings. Spend time with the staff and residents. Ask them what they like and dislike about the place. Make a second, unannounced visit on a weekend or in the evening. You may find out important information by dropping by unannounced.
Signing the Contract
After reviewing all the materials, visiting each prospective residence, and getting all questions answered, singing a contract is the final, and most important, step. This is the legal document that states what arrangements are agreed to, regardless of anything promised verbally or in marketing materials. The more specific the contract, the greater your loved one’s legal protection. Compare information in the sales brochure with that in the contract, paying close attention to fees, level of care, health care services and discharge policies. Benefits that a residence promotes in a brochure should also appear in the contract.
- Make sure you understand what the contract says. Get any and all questions you have answered before signing.
- Ask that any information not included about care, rights, costs and services be added — and don’t sign a contract until you see these additions have been made (a residence can promise anything in a brochure, but it is only bound legally by what is in the signed contract).
- Never sign on the day you visit.
- Before making a decision about a residence, take the contract home and review it with family members.
- Consider reviewing the contract with a financial adviser and a lawyer.
The Cost of Assisted Care
Assisted living can be costly. About four out of five people pay for it out of pocket. Medicare does not cover assisted living. While more states are starting to cover some services under Medicaid or other government programs, public payment is not common in the assisted living industry. State Medicaid agencies can provide information about eligibility and covered services. Before you seriously consider assisted living as an option for your loved one, decide whether you and your loved one can afford it long-term. Keep in mind that the cost will rise over time because of standard cost-of-living increases. Also, expect monthly price hikes for extra services as needs change.
Promotional materials for these residences commonly present fee information in general terms, so it’s crucial that a contract detail all of your payment obligations. Consider running the contract by a lawyer before signing.