You Have a Right to Know About Senior Care

During the process of transitioning your loved one from their home to a senior living community, you will need information. Senior Living Help for Mom answers a few of the most frequently asked questions below, and when we meet with you in person, we’ll answer any question you might have.

Q: Why choose Senior Living Help for Mom to find a senior living community instead of a referral service you find on the Internet?

A: Finding the right senior care facility for your mom or dad, aunt or uncle, neighbor or friend is an important step that will impact the rest of their life. It’s not a responsibility with which you want to trust just anyone. We work with you one-on-one, as if you were family, going with you to each senior living community and helping you weigh your options. We don’t favor one facility over another and always recommend the best option for the particular senior citizen. Help for Mom will also help you explore all funding options, such as the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension or Reverse Mortgages.

Q: How do you provide this senior care service for free?

A: Help for Mom is able to offer our services free of charge thanks to reimbursements by senior living communities and other health care providers participating in our network. Communities do not mark up their fees to the public to compensate for these reimbursements.

Q: Will you help me navigate the complex issues of Medicare and Medicaid?

A: Yes, we are very knowledgeable about Medicare and Medicaid. We partner with social workers and attorneys to provide up-to-date information on both covered and out-of-pocket costs. We can also assist in Medicaid planning and review long-term care insurance with you.

Q: What’s the difference between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?

A: An Assisted Living facility is a nonmedical setting where residents receive 24/7 support with activities of daily living and health care. If a senior has an illness, fall or surgery, they may need to move to a Nursing Home (also called a rehabilitation facility or Skilled Nursing Facility) to fully recover and regain their strength before returning to the Assisted Living community or home. Other Nursing Homes provide long-term, 24-hour custodial care and health care monitoring but not intensive medical treatment or daily nursing.

Q: How can I convince my loved one that he or she isn’t able to live independently anymore and needs senior care?

A: Your loved one generally knows their limitations and safety risks but may not want to admit they need help. Sometimes it takes an event, such as a fall or surgery, to make them come to terms with the fact that they no longer can live independently.

Start preparing them by visiting a number of senior care communities in your area a year or two before they have to move. Let your loved one feel in control by asking how they feel about moving to a community and specifically when they would want to make the move. Determine if they see the value of making a preemptive/proactive decision.

Seek support from neighbors, people from their faith community, doctors or social workers, who may be able to influence the senior or advise you as a caregiver. Share stories from residents of senior living communities about how their lives have improved.

The process of convincing your loved one that they need the support of a senior care facility can be long and difficult and you may get stuck for a while. Just give it a rest and then come back and start working it again. Generally personal conditions and common sense will prevail in seeking senior care.

Q: What should I know about contracts and fees?

A: Below is a snapshot of the fees and other agreements you’ll need to know about. Help for Mom will provide more details when we meet with you one-on-one.

  • Entry/Buy-in Fee is an up-front fee that the senior care community will charge your loved one for moving into the community and typically is the amount of the first month’s rent.
  • Monthly Rental Fee is the amount paid for rent and services each month. It is important to understand the services covered, how the services are offered and if there are any hidden fees. This information is in the rental agreement, but not the brochures.
  • Care Level Fee is charged for higher levels of care your loved one may need now or in the future. These levels of care, which include incontinence care, medication management, dressing, grooming, daily reminders for meals and activities, transferring assistance, toileting, bathing, etc., are not covered in the basic rental fee.
  • Second Person Fee covers an additional person, usually the spouse, living in the apartment or room. The fee can vary dramatically from one senior care community to another.
  • Rental Rate Lock is a rental agreement/lease that overrides the annual inflationary increase for some period of time—from a couple of years to the length of time your loved one lives at the community.
  • Rental or Lease Term is the amount of time your loved one commits to living at the senior care community. Some rental agreements/leases are for 30 days and some can be for a year or longer.
  • Pet Fee is a one-time expense that covers potential wear and tear to the apartment or room.
  • Pet Premium is an additional monthly fee for having a pet at the senior living facility. Both pet fees are often negotiable.

Q: What are Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefits?

A: Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits are available to veterans who meet the following qualifications: 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day during a period of war, household income challenged by rising medical expenses, 65 years of age and older, and a need for assistance with two activities of daily living or either permanently or totally disabled. These benefits can pay up to $2,054/month for a couple, $1,732/month for a single veteran and $1,113 for a single surviving spouse.

While roughly one out of four seniors in the U.S. could qualify for veterans’ benefits, only about 5 percent of U.S. seniors are actually receiving them.

Q: What can a resident bring to an Assisted Living apartment or room?

A: The resident can bring as many personal items and as much furniture as will safely fit into their new Assisted Living apartment or room.

Q: How many meals are provided for the resident per day? Are snacks available?

A: In the State of Virginia (and in most states), licensed Assisted Living facilities are required to provide three hot meals a day and nutritious snacks between meals and before bedtime. Independent Living communities generally provide two to three meals per day. Some offer a la carte plans with a range of monthly choices. The total number of meals per month is part of the service package and is detailed in the rental/lease agreement.

Q: What happens if my loved one forgets to take his or her medications?

A: Generally, for a fee, defined as a Care Level, a licensed staff member of the senior care community will visit the resident’s apartment or room to administer the medications prescribed by the resident’s doctor(s).