Since my Aunt Polly went to live in an assisted living facility in Knoxville, TN, I’ve been thinking a lot about the public’s perception of assisted living and what I see as the truth.
Myth: “assisted living” is a extravagant expression meaning “expensive hospital.”
Reality: A hospital is a place for urgent care and more, but an assisted living facility provides care for seniors with wellness requirements that increase in severity. It’s like an ordinary condo or apartment building that helps you with everyday actions as much as you need it. Many facilities have a retirement community half and an assisted living portion. That way someone can live normally until they need extra medical care, then they can move, within the same community, to assisted living. Hospitals don’t provide anything like that.
Myth: no decent assisted living facility is even remotely affordable
Reality: There are things you can do to afford assisted living for your relative. Are they a veteran or the spouse of a veteran? There may be a discount available. Also, not all assisted living and retirement communities have set-in-stone pricing. Ask about a move-in incentive or if there are services you can order ala carte. Not everyone wants or needs to eat every meal in the dining hall. Some people can’t even make it there. Talk to the administrator to find out what’s best for your relative.
Fantasy: You can get the same treatment at a hospital and pay a fraction of the price
Reality: This really isn’t true. You can get palliative care (end of life or hospice care) in a facility that is like a mix between a hospital and an assisted living facility, with health problems addressed in a hospital’s ER. A lot of times, these patients wait for a long time in the emergency room. A top-notch assisted living facility can provide the quality of care that reduces the need for ER visits and keeps your relative comfortable at home.
The right facility will have a blend of quality, luxurious lifestyle amenities with the medical staff on hand to help your relative make the transition into assisted living when then need it.