Dad arrived home on a Tuesday and was disappointed that I didn't have an appointment at a CCRC until Thursday. He was anxious to see what might be available to him. That certainly was good news. It would break my heart to force something on my dad that he had no interest in! We had a great visit at this first community. In fact, the community was ideal and we really didn't even think of going to see another. That is, we didn't think about it until my dad was well into the application process and the organization indicated that because of his diagnosis of 'early stages of Alzheimer's Disease' they wouldn't take him.So, onward in our quest.
I was surprised at the number of very nice communities in our area. I also found it surprising to see the differences in prices. We visited communities that had buy-ins and those without. We visited some that had beautiful common areas, but terrible apartments. We saw some great apartments at communities that also had lousy amenities. We visited very large communities and those that were much smaller. We saw some that were in high rise apartment buildings and some that had fairly large campuses with walking trails and outdoor activities.
Fortunately we found a second community that Dad really liked. As he is the sort to make snap-decisions, within a week of our first visit he was finishing the paperwork and a move would shortly follow.
So, what did I learn in this process that may be of help to others?
- I discovered that it is really helpful to preview the community myself. I have a good idea of what my dad would and wouldn't like, and he found visiting the communities very tiring. This way I could eliminate some trips and we could focus on the most likely candidates.
- I also found that dad was easily confused about what he had seen at one community or another. Heck, I had trouble keeping them sorted out myself! So we set up folders with all of the information and I took copious notes at our visits. Since I was the official note taker he could relax a bit and concentrate on what the community representative had to say. I took pictures of the apartments we visited so he could compare the pictures to floor plans that he was given. I didn't take pictures in the common areas, but in hindsight this would have been very helpful for him in sorting out the communities and their amenities.
- I began to start my inquiries by asking if the community accepts individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. I didn't want to run into another situation where my father would be turned down.
- Each community is very different and the fees are often structured in a different way.
- Type A communities charge an entrance fee and a set monthly fee regardless of the level of service required. Thus, if a person needed full-time nursing care, the fee would be the same as if he was living independently in an apartment. This is a 'Life Care' or 'Extensive' contract.
- Tybe B communities charge an entrance fee and a set monthly fee. If the resident requires nursing care they may offer it at a discounted rate, but their monthly fee would be higher than the monthly fee for independent living.
- Type C communities charge an entrance fee and a monthly fee with additional fees for services used. Thus, the resident may pay extra for transportation, classes, access to the gym, parking, etc.
- Rental Communities: a few communities charge no entrance fee and the residents pay a monthly rental. Additional services may often be billed to the resident.
- Spend one or more nights at the community. Every community we visited offered to have us stay for lunch or dinner in the dining room. Several communities have guest suites and a few offered to let my dad spend an evening. I think this was helpful for him. He had the opportunity to experience several meals and to talk to many residents. It helped him get a feel for the community.
- It may have been helpful in choosing one community over another if my Dad had listed or ranked services and amenities that he felt would be important to him before we visited communities. For example, he isn't a swimmer, but we did meet a couple who's first priority was a salt-water filtered pool. Certainly there were things we thought would be important, such as a transportation system, but it may have made the decision making process easier if the items were listed and ranked before we visited our first community. We built our list as we went along: nice view, two bedroom apartment, transportation, meals available....Dad is pretty easy to please!