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Exploring local facilities? Talk with the pros

In 2007, my then 86-year-old grandfather began living alone for the first time. My sister and I promised Poppy that he could stay in his home so long as he was safe.

For seven years, we exhausted several in-home care management services suggested and arranged by our elder care manager from the Catholic Family Center. In 2014, after a few too many uses of his emergency alert device, we knew it was time to consider senior living facilities.

As with many others navigating senior living options, the “where do I even start?” stress was overwhelming. To help with the process, we needed a starting point, an understanding of the various options and knowledge that we were not alone. 

First, evaluate
Keith Chambery, executive director of the Genesee Health Facilities Association, a group of skilled nursing facilities that have roots in Rochester, says that the best first step is to determine the level of care needed by scheduling an evaluation with your doctor or a care manager.

“Many facilities can help with a home visit or a referral to another agency that can assess the family member and document that person’s needs on commonly accepted medical forms,” Chambery says.

The next step is to visit facilities that offer that level of care. It’s important to get a feel for the environment—some may have a medical feel, some are more like community homes, and others feel like fine hotels.

“The process, when not emergent, will take time,” Chambery says. “The objective is to get the most appropriate placement for the individual while selecting a facility in which family and friends are comfortable visiting.”

Choices, choices
Farewell to the days of a one-size-fits-all approach for elders. The landscape of housing options for seniors has changed to meet the needs of the population’s upward trajectory in life expectancy.

Some 60,000 assisted living and skilled nursing homes are home to 2 million people in the United States.

Whether you or your loved one is considering senior housing, choices abound in Rochester. This community has more than 100 facilities ranging from independent living to skilled nursing care.

In addition to the more familiar housing types, Chambery adds yet another: respite care.

“Respite care is an option that families may seek when the primary caregiver needs to take a break for vacation or other personal business,” Chambery explains. With durations of a week to a month, respite care is available whether your loved one needs skilled nursing or help with simpler tasks like dressing, laundry and food preparation.

“It’s an option to keep (the caregiver’s) family member safe and in the best functioning capacity possible while they are absent,” Chambery says.

Average costs of senior living facilities vary widely—from $1,000 to more than $11,000 per month across New York—so talking with an objective professional in the elder care industry will clear up questions on affordability and payment options. Some providers accept only private pay, and others accept Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) funding or payment from a long-term care insurance policy. 

Knowledge is power. Leaving plenty of time to understand the options puts seniors and caregivers at an advantage.

Haverly M. Erskine is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

10/16/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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