Does anyone have any positive experience with assisted living centers?

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Does anyone have any positive experiences with Assisted Living Facilities. Just began looking at them as an option, since Mom (82) and Dad (87) may need a back up plan in the future. I am not in a position to add any more caregiving than I have over the past 4 years (nine years total for other family members) Exhaustion, health issues of my own, a small condo and the need to maintain my employment are the primary reasons. Mom and Dad are doing ok, but both have become less healthy and I can see the possibility of them not being able to live alone in the future due to declining health situations.

Assisted living was suggested to me, and although I thought it was too expensive at first, I found 2 facilities that they could afford and that seem very nice. Also one of the facilities has a 90 percent refund of the buy in price as an option, I imagine that is if the resident does not want to continue to live there.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

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My 85 yr old mother has Alzheimer's Disease, currently in early moderate stage. We moved her from one dementia facility (it was wretched!) into an Assisted Living & Dementia facility. She started in the dementia section but has been reassessed into A.L. Currently she's thriving! Excellent skilled employees, first class cuisine, tons of activities and socializing. However, HEADS UP! Because she's in A.L. she has virtually total freedom. Lacking the insight/common sense/discernment she once had, she took a walk outside in the snow without boots, winter coat, hat or gloves and fell. Despite being told by administration that she can no longer walk without a staff member, she has availed herself of the staff entrance/exit. As DPOA, I can REQUEST that no one other than myself be permitted to take her off premises, but cannot be guaranteed because she's in Assisted Living. There are pros & cons. By and large we're extremely pleased with Mom being in AL. I know that things will change eventually, but for right now we're all working together to make sure Mom is safe while she lives her life to the fullest.
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Assisted Living Centers that are for-profit are not to be trusted. I posted on 9-26-13 about the need to watch everything. I posted in another thread this week about how lazy night shift staff made it possible for a man, with issues, to enter my mom's room (door ajar by night staff w/o a master key) and get in bed with her and touch her inappropriately. The administrators did not think my mom remembered it because it happened in the middle of the night--and pushed that idea on me--but she was able to remember everything when I sat down with her and waited for the memory to come out. She was molested and groped in private part and could tell me about it. She may have memory issues, but I know how to work with her. I am so upset and disturbed. My state's Elder Abuse dept. Is investigating. Although they say I will not be identified, you know they'll know what is going on. I had a few safety measures done right away but I know the whole thing is going to be their trying to cover their you-know-whats. So, friends, don't believe ANYTHING! I will probably lose it or die or stress out or have a heart attach about this. My mom will probably outlive me. I cry, I can't eat, and I can't sleep. And I cannot do all my mom needs. Hope you all fare better. Here I go for another sleepless night.
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Assisted Living can be a godsend! Check out the places you're considering carefully, and if possible have your parent actively involved in this checking out process--partly because no matter how well you know your parent's tastes, she or he knows even better! Sometimes it's gut reaction--it was with my mom: we walked into a place we hadn't originally thought we'd consider seriously, she looked around in the nicely furnished lobby, and said, "Oh, this FEELS like home." A couple weeks later, having looked at several other places, we returned to the "like home" place, she moved in, and it BECAME home. She is currently at a very low level of need for assistance (medical management, and someone on call if needed), and has lots of independence. Takes her walker out into the neighborhood for an hour or more a day, and loves sitting on her balcony and watching the neighbor kids and dogs.... She didn't expect to like living with "all those old people", but it ended up great for her: They're all of the same generation, they share memories, they endured the Depression and the War, they remember the same music....they have so much more in common than people in mixed communities--even than families, an many ways!

There are lots of support systems, from the residence bus for shopping trips, to Access-A-Ride, to people who bring dogs for visiting, and there are various activities she's welcome to engage in, whether movies, or bingo, or prayer groups, or political discussion groups--the residents have ideas for activities they'd like to participate in, and pass those ideas along, and if there's enough interest they happen!

The only trouble is, this place is in California, and my mom is running out of money, and California doesn't allow, for example, Medicaid (Medical) to help her unless she's truly NURSING HOME bound--which she isn't. So now we're looking to move her to Colorado (where another of her kids lives), and there she is on the waiting list for a HUD subsidized apartment that will be quite as nice as where she is (actually, nicer), and cost her about 10% as much! This is an Independent Living senior residence, which none-the-less has lots of support for seniors--transportation, hair salon and nails in the building, 24-hour emergency on-call people, meals, and so forth. But as her needs increase, she will be able to move into their Assisted Living section, which DOES get Medicaid support, though it is NOT like what we all think of as a nursing home. She'll still have a buffet apartment, and can use as much or as little of the assistance as she needs. Lots of individual planning and support and counseling. And the nice thing is, she'll still have the same group of friends she started out with in Independent Living, as both sections mix as much as people want to.

What I looked for, in helping my mom find these places, was of course cleanliness and a comfortably safe-feeling environment, cheerful people, and lots of friendly interaction among staff and residents (do they call each other by name? Do they laugh together?). How is the food? Is there as much freedom as my mom likes, and yet are people available in times of need? What's there for the spiritual side that she values?

One tip: as my generation (I'm 68) is aging, and we're looking to live in such places, they are filling up. Especially the affordable ones! So when you first begin to consider this kind of living, get on a list! Good places used to have some openings....now, fewer and fewer! In fact, many good places have waiting lists of from 6 months to two years! So better to get on a list even if you're not sure, so that once you're sure, you have less of a wait! (NONE of the places we considered, by the way, required any payment simply for applying and for being on a wait list; this makes it pretty risk-free!)

Hope your mom finds a lovely a new home as mine did!
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I understand some times it is necessary to find an ALF for an elder. However, since the majority are for profit/corporate outfits I wouldn't trust them to care for my parent. It was tons of work to care for my parents alone but I never regret it.
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my mom is at a assisted living and they treat her like she is a queen. If she hasnt came for breakfast, they come to see why. If she doesnt like what they are having for any of the meals, she can order what ever she wants. They keep her involved in all kinds of activities and she has a blast. She has dementia and refused to move in with me or my sister and picked this place out herself. She has been there over a yr now and loves it. Just like nursing homes, not all of them are horrible. I suggest looking for another home.
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I totally agree with you ! I have taken pictures also. .People Ive showed them to can't believe what they are looking at. Its all about the money that's all they really care about. When you find thing that are bad or unsafe or no healthy for your loved one Turn them in too social services and adult protective services file a complaint form. and everytime you see something else wrong take a picture and file another complaint on them. hopefully something will change with these places.
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Knownunknowns has a really good point, as do several other of this lovely group of caregiver/commentators. Do look carefully at the turnover rate, at all levels, at the facility where your loved one lives. When I got burned out with caring physically for my mom, who is a sweetheart but needs a good bit of assistance and cannot be left alone, I researched and visited and decided on an ALF that was reasonable in price and had a longstanding good reputation in our town. They do respite, and we had some trials with that before making the big decision. For over a year, everything was great. Then, about a year ago, the long-time facility director left or was let go by the company that runs the place. No one really knows, till this day, what happened. He was a good manager, hands-on, and had an open door policy. The new director, who came from another ALF in town that was not so highly rated, changed everything. Long-time staff who were really good left. She hired people who were her buddies for administrative positions and hired awful, untrained people for the lower-paid staff positions. She is not particularly approachable. Since she hired some replacements recently that interact with my mother, things have been happening like stealing clothes and bed linens, less checking on supplies like disposable briefs, toilet paper, and tissues, untimely notification to me about meds running out, calling in refills to the wrong pharmacy--I could go on. I am stressed and unhappy that the care has declined. When I politely bring up incidents, nothing happens to change the situation. And, the rates have gone up for "Level of Care"--coincidence or expectation of good management and care? Several recent problems have had me running out to replace dirty linens at 10 p.m. because the spare set were missing. And, when my dear mother was out of toilet paper for a couple of days, no one noticed until I found a wash cloth and towel that she had been using to wipe herself. Nice, right? I documented everything with my cell phone camera. I suggest that all of you do the same thing. The administrators may not worry about resident care, but they do worry about lawsuits. This post is long, but I cannot emphasize enough how important good directors and managers are. Turnover is a sign that something is going on and it might not be good. And yes, I am starting to look for another ALF. Good luck to you all.
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NO I Haven't FOUND ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT THESE PLACES. THEY DON'T TAKE CARE OF MY MOTHER AT ALL. SHE HAS LOST WEIGHT SHES DOWN TO 86lbs THEY LET HER LOCK HERSELF IN HER ROOM FOR HRS SOMETIMES DAYS. I HAVE TO TAKE HER FOOD ALL THE TIME BECAUSE SHE IS ALWAYS STARVING.SHE STAYS IN THE SAME DIRTY CLOTHES FOR WEEKS EVERY TIME I GO THERE SHE BEGGS ME TO TAKE HER HOME. IT BREAKS MY HEART. SOME OF THE REAL $$$$ PLACES R PROBLEY BETTER BUT MOST OF THEM ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY NOT THE CARE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO YET? SHE HAS HATED IT THERE SINCE DAY 1.
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Thank you everyone for the wonderful insights
I agree with the idea that in one way or another
we will be spending money on care, and I always assumed that assisted living
would be a safe environment if my parents ever got to the point that they could not maintain their home. Also Mom has mentioned that she would not want to live alone in their home if something happened to Dad first. Dad is just the opposite, does not want to leave the house ever....so we are really looking at all options as back up plans for the future.
Trying to be as prepared as possible for any scenario.

Lots of work to do! Thank you everyone for taking the time out of your busy day
to respond.
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As a very wise hospice worker said to me - you will be spending your parents money one way or the other...it is how you choose to spend the money. We were very fortunate to find wonderful caregivers who came to my parents condo. If you do choose an assisted living facility the only way to insure good care is by being present frequently and engaged - ask questions frequently - introduce yourself to as many staff as you can - become conversant with them and familiar to them. If you cannot be present then seek out those who can on your behalf.
Courage in this most important job of your lifetime! Anita
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