Latino Elders — The Caregiving Cycle: How To Select An Assisted Living Facility

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By Judi Bonilla
Latino Elders

If you’re a 40-something mujer, employed, and married you may also be a caregiver. You manage your career, children, family and also care for elderly parents and in-laws. It can be a stressful, daily, tightrope walk and then “the thing” happens. The nightmare.

Your Papa or Mama is suddenly hospitalized. From the ER to the hospital room you’re relieved to find out they will recover. However, the realization sets in, you can no longer care for your loved one at home. The routine you’ve so carefully crafted will no longer work. Where do you turn for help? For many families informal caregiving now takes a turn to formalized caregiving and the search for an Assisted Living Facility.

What is an Assisted Living Facility?

An assisted living facility, provides supervision or assistance to a resident with bathing, dressing, eating, and medication management. They also provide group activities to encourage socializing and may include: art classes, entertainment, lectures, and worship events.

Assisted living has emerged over the last 30 years as a bridge between independent living and nursing homes. For many families the facility provides their loved one with the 24-hour supervision and appropriate stage dementia care. Some of us turn to our family, friends, and co-workers and ask for advice.

Tips For Researching An Assisted Living Facility

  1. Enlist the assistance of your amigas in addition to your immediate family to help you with the research. Why? Amigas can help you through the rough spots and are there to celebrate the victories.
  2. Identify three assisted living facilities* located within reasonable access to family members and friends. Why? Having extended family and friends stopping by to check on your family member can make everyone part of the process.
  3. Research your targeted facilities. You’re looking for facility complaints, investigation reports, and noncompliance documents. Each state** has different standards, contact your local Area Agency on Aging to identify who licenses assisted living facilities for seniors in your state.
  4. Common names for licensing agencies are Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Social Services, and Health and Family Services. Each state handles their documentation differently.
  5. If you’re in Southern California you’re in luck. CARR a non profit organization provides users with the only online document database of assisted living facilities in California.*** Why? You want to choose a facility that puts your family member first by complying with healthy/safety rules and regulations.
  6. Tour the facility. Give yourself ample time to walk the grounds, talk to the residents, and meet the staff. If your loved one is non-English speaking, ask about their patient care plans. How do they communicate with non-english speaking patients? Get the specifics. Why? You want to look beyond the reception area and front desk. You want to look into the heart of the facility and where your loved one will be living.
  7. Cost. Like the AARP commercials say, “Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living facilities or long-term care facilities” In some states, Medicaid may pay for some of the costs if you have limited income. Long-term care insurance, may cover some of the costs. Some facilities offer funding options. However, most families pay for the cost out of their own pockets.

The facts are sobering and empowering. The choice is ours, you know the facts, its time to get involved.

Millennials with their eyes on technology. Middle-Agers spurred by a sense of urgency. Elders with the wisdom that comes from experience. By our sheer numbers Latinos have the opportunity to become the future leaders of elder and health care. Find out how you can advocate in your community for a long health life.

*Assisted living facilities are called by different names depending on the state: adult residential care homes, assisted living communities, board and care, community residence facilities, comprehensive personal care homes, enriched housing programs, group homes, homes for the aged, personal care homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and rest residential homes to name a few.

**Some states post on-line compliance public documents about regulatory compliance and include: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

***Database cover Riverside and San Diego counties.

Read more about #CaregiverMonth here and follow #NowMoreThanEver hashtag to join in the conversation.

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