Assisted Living Facilities are filled with beautiful residences for retirees affording you very comfortable and safe living conditions. They are for the most part gated communities with guards monitoring the property twenty-four hours a day. There is always the buzz of the cleaning crew and the grounds crew making sure properties are well maintained. But, for residents feeling after retirement that they have found their forever home you may face disappointment. After years of comfort the many benefits can begin to be stripped away. What used to be enjoyment begins to feel burdensome as management changes, and the community population ages.
The layout of these premises are pretty impressive when you first enter. The maintenance and marketing department will be sure that every complaint is readily addressed. Move in is usually well managed. The greeters will make sure that you feel right at home. You will make many new friends and have plenty of activity such as book clubs, dance classes, art classes, golf, tennis, swimming and just as much as you can find the time to participate in before you get tired.
You will have a fully staffed beautiful dining room or two or three, where you can have all your meals if you chose. Or, don't want to go to the dining room? Well there will be a designated telephone line for you to call in to for your lunch, or dinner selection and it will be delivered to you, or you can pick it up. The menus are provided each week in print form and, or on the facility television station. Some facilities will charge to deliver your food while others just bundle it into your whopping monthly charges (although they will tell you its free delivery). It has always been said 'there is no free lunch' so be aware.
There is transportation to take you to the local supermarket, malls, the local theater, doctor's appointments or museums. If you choose to have a car you will have your own designated parking spot. Some facilities have covered parking others have enclosed parking while some have just outdoor parking. There is usually a hair salon which we will talk about in a later post. There is a weekly housekeeper who spends about two hours cleaning your place each week. There are many parties and dances to attend (seniors love, love dances), so save your beautiful garments. Some facilities insist that men wear jackets to dinner. Pretty sure that rule won't be around in twenty years.
You must be aware when you buy into these facilities that although they are an ideal place to retire, when the residents age out and pass away the apartments and villas can sit on the market for a long time. When the community ages and the marketing team you met when you moved in have moved along that slows down or changes the path for bringing new residents to fill vacant apartments and villas. Residents who have aged quite a bit and do not drive anymore usually have paid in home health caregivers to help them out. Some facilities do not allow outside paid in home health care agencies. However, the outside agencies are providing better care than the ones provided by the facilities so residents will insist on having the choice.
Why do these living facilities become less affordable? Sometimes, they are mismanaged and run into budgetary problems. They are then sold or merged depending on what term they want to use. That means the old management team gets replaced and along with them your old timers from the grounds crew, guards, cleaning team, on call nurse, and receptionist. Yep they clean house and the new team comes in just as if you were experiencing a corporate merger. In short when that new team comes in they are changing the rules and cutting costs.
So some of the practices that you had become accustomed to will no longer be available. For example if you were always allowed to stay in the dining room and hang out with your friends the new rule may be that the dining room will close at 7pm. Or, instead of the dinner hours on Sundays going the usual 5pm - 7pm they will stop serving dinner at 2pm. Were you accustomed to getting the facility bus after dinner? Now you will call for a golf cart (if you live in a sunny part of the country), or walk home. The person who does not want to take the golf cart and cannot walk home will simply stop going to dinner on Sundays. Perhaps they will have a late lunch after church, so that they will still get to see their friends. Seniors are very good at adaptation after the complaints have subsided.
Changes such as waiting a longer time to get resolutions to maintenance calls can be a bit unsettling. If you fall and need assistance to get up usually a nurse would come in to see you first after you have alerted them with your emergency call apparatus. That practice gets changed to the security guards coming instead so the nurse calls are eliminated. The practice of security checking every morning to see who has not opened their door may become obsolete. At the same time as they are eliminating all these selling points the monthly costs of the home goes up every year - just like rent.
Recently the rising costs of retirement living was addressed in a CNBC article. See https://cnb.cx/2OHjCLB
It certainly is a big decision for early planning and careful thought. Even though right now you may want to get far away from relatives you may wish you were closer to them in later years. When you are older moving is a bit more disruptive especially if you don't have much of a choice. So plan early even if right now it is just a conversation about what you would like your residential arrangement to be during your caregiver years. Please join me on this journey by adding your email to the contact list and stay in touch.
Ruth Y. Webster