8 Ways to Choose the Best Assisted Living in Colorado
1. Start with a thorough assessment.
Do you have an accurate account of all your parents’ needs for care?
Everyone in the family should get educated as to the specific needs of your loved one. You have to make sure the care staff can handle all the areas they need help with now and for the future.
Medical conditions, mobility, memory, activities of daily living support and psychological issues must all be addressed. First hand knowledge and second hand information must also be included. Administrators will need a diagnosis and an M&P (Medical and Physical) report.
So many times, older adults of aging parents don’t know so much of what may be going on. It’s really hard to know their true condition if they live away from you.
You might have to do some investigative work if you have not been active in their care.
Hopefully, your family has planned for long term care. It’s not cheap. Many americans have already had to use most of their money on healthcare expenses and have little left, especially with the trend to “age in place” in their homes into their 90s. After a professional assessment, it’s vital to examine income, assets, debt, and the overall financial strength of the family estate to determine what one can afford. Most Americans, if they live long enough, will eventually run out of money and apply for long-term care through Medicaid.
A really nice private pay room will run from $4000 /mo. and up in northern Colorado.
Certain annuities and special needs trusts can provide protection, but, in general, when someone is down to their last $2,000, they apply for “needs based” Medicaid.
A big factor in assisted living pricing is extra charges for higher levels of care. Base rent of $4,000 per month could turn into $5,000-$6,000 when activities of daily living support are charged. Also, if your dad has a decline, expect more charges for the time he needs the extra support.
There is a different pricing model used by some, mostly small board and care assisted livings, in which all the care required is included for one set price each month, termed all-inclusive. This model works well for a loved one on a decent pension and social security with few assets.
If they are within three years of applying for Medicaid, it’s really important to see if the assisted living facility is Medicaid/Innovage certified and works with spend down clients.
3. Determine memory issues and care needs.
How much difficulty is you Dad or Mom having?
You may have been more concerned lately.
Maybe the dementia is temporary, caused by something like a urinary tract infection.
There may or may not have been a diagnosis but they have struggled for some time.
Perhaps Alzheimers or one of the other 80 forms of dementia has been diagnosed and you know your parent needs memory care, a place where they cannot wander.
While M.C.I (Mild Cognitive Impairment) is prevalent in regular assisted living residents, a sharper mind means that a person is better able to know when to get help, less of a fall risk, but may still need responsive support. Remember, assisted living requires the client to be able to direct their care and to know when they need assistance.
More visits and grandkids are worth their weight in gold. That said, good care is the most important factor. The best home might be down the street or it may be half an hour away. In Colorado, availability of an opening can be hard to come by.Older adults with polypharmacy issues, the use of 4 or more meds, and neurological diseases (Parkinson’s, MS, etc.) may require an owner or staff with experience in taking care of these conditions. The willingness to do in-services and learn how to take better care is good. That location may be a little farther, but worth it.
Supplementing private pay caregiving for companionship and transportation can ease the burden.
If your loved one likes their new home where they spend most of their time, you can make adjustments.
5. Should it be Big or Small?
Is your dad or mom the life of the party and likes activities with others? If so, they will probably do well in a bigger assisted living as long as their dementia is not too bad.
Isolation and depression, however, are hard sometimes for the elderly. In big assisted living facilities (over 20 residents) clients can get overlooked. They can stop going to activities and sit alone. That is sad.
Does your mom or dad need more oversight and encouragement? Do they need a more constant reminder to get going?
While the bigger A.L.s typically offer more activities and amenities, the smaller board and care homes (6-8 residents) can offer better oversight and increased participation. Loved ones with memory issues can sometimes have a better chance to stay safe and thrive where the owner and caregiving staff get to know their every move.
If you want your loved one to stay out of a nursing home, the medicaid board and care assisted livings are a good option. Availability is what’s tricky.
Small assisted living homes are “homey” and, for some, it’s perfect. It’s where some residents feel as close to home as possible.
Tube feeding, behavioral issues, and wound care are other areas that typically mean skilled care is required.
There are, however, a few small board and care facilities that will do more than most to keep clients out of a nursing home.
When end of life conditions occur, more family caregiving or private pay caregiving can keep your loved one in assisted living until they pass away. Most assisted livings will support end of life measures and work with the family.
Ask the administrator of the community if they support end of life care in their home.
7. Check Staffing Ratios, Tenure, and Kindness.
Let’s face it, more caregivers around means more attention to your loved one’s care.
Staff to client ratios can range from 4 to 1 up to as high as 15 to 1.
The degree of difficulty for current residents can factor in how much time they have. Look to see how much support the other residents may need. Sometimes in smaller assisted living facilities, other professionals come in to help and add more quality staffing.
Are the caregivers C.N.A.s (Certified Nurse Assistants), L.P.Ns (Licensed Practicing Nurses), or q-mapped (able to administer medication)? C.N.A.s are typically better trained and educated about senior healthcare than P.C.P. caregivers, although not necessarily if someone has years of experience.
How long caregivers have been there is important; longevity shows good management.
Caregivers overall are overworked and underpaid. There can be constant turnover in staff and any administrator/owner who values their commitment to take good care of them is doing better than most. Stability is important.
Ask questions to understand the owner/administrator’s background. Experience is important. Find out what areas of senior healthcare they are passionate about.
Kindness can be seen and felt.
Interact with some of the caregivers and get a sense of how much they care. You can tell if you spend enough time there or come back for another visit.
You work initially with the admissions representatives and the owner/administrator. After that it’s a lot about the caregivers. These are the people who will be taking care of your loved one every day.
We know the owners who work with “spend down” clients.
Finding the next best home is one challenge and knowing where there are openings is another issue. We are informed, up to date, and can pass important pricing and facts on to your family.
Experience working with the elderly means a lot. Todd has been in hundreds of Colorado homes guiding families in many areas of senior care. We pride ourselves on knowing the right questions to ask about staffing, training, and the history of the home. We know what good care is!
Trust us to give you the answers you need to make an informed decision.
Call 303-818-9006 or click here to begin your free assessment.