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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


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My wife’s mother had come to live with us after the death of her husband. After a couple of years of living with us, she decided that she wanted to live in an assisted living facility as she didn’t want to burden us. We insisted that she was not a burden, but she was firm, so we all decided to investigate available facilities.

There were four assisted living facilities within 30 minutes to an hour’s drive from our home, so we scheduled appointments. The visits were very similar, in that they all amounted to a nice visit and a tour. The administrators were all very pleasant and professional.

We would get a walk-through of the facility, and a visit to the room of a resident or two, where we received a good report about how they enjoyed living there. We also received stacks of promotional information, brochures, accolades, and meal menus. These visits left us more confused than ever, as they all looked pretty good.

My mother-in-law voiced her preferences, which were all very subjective as she liked certain features in one place and disliked features in another. This was about the depth of our entire decision-making process. The only thing that we knew for certain was that the average monthly fee for these various facilities was $3,800 to $4,800 per month. It would be a real strain on our budget, but it was going to have to work out.

We made our decision and we chose the facility that was the closest to our home. We once again asked my wife’s mother if she was sure that this is what she wanted to do. She assured us that this was definitely her preference.

By the following week we had signed the paperwork, paid the first month’s fee of $4,693, and had moved my mother-in-law to her new home. Little did we know how much difficulty she would have.

We initially visited at least once a day, some days more, and things appeared normal. Other than experiencing some anxiety, she did not seem to have any major difficulties.
At the end of the first week after my mother-in-law’s move, I received a call from her, and she was in tears. She said that she wanted to come back home, was afraid, and had made a terrible mistake. I told her that we would be there right away.

She had dressed and was ready to go when we arrived. This was serious, because not only would we have to give up the $4,393 we had paid for the first month, (it was in the contract), but we felt that she ought to give this a better chance.

My mother-in-law informed us that the night nurse had given her medication to her improperly, and had threatened her if she spoke out. That settled it. I confronted the director, but she denied any wrong-doing. My wife’s mother had always been very meticulous about taking her medicine, and they had attempted to give her all of her 17 pills at once instead of sticking to her schedule.

When she refused, the nurse became angry and had scolded her, frightening her. It boiled down to her story against theirs. I asked to see the medicine and found that the labels had all been taped over with just the name of the medicine written on the tape without any dosage instructions. We wasted no time in getting her home.

Our error was just not taking enough time to really get enough information.

After reviewing the incident, we came up with some definite things we would have done differently:

1. We would have arranged a “trial stay” just in case my mother-in-law got “buyer’s remorse,” which of course occurred.

2. We would have made a surprise visit or two before committing.

3. We would have arranged to have dinner with some of the residents, and we could have asked some hard questions there.

4. Our attorney told us later that we should have negotiated out the “30 day clause,” which required relinquishing the first month’s payment if my wife’s mother didn’t stay 30 days, which she did not.

5. We would have spoken to relatives of other residents residing at the facility.

6. We would have done much more in the way of firsthand investigation, such as conducting our own visits at odd times of the day and night.

7. My advice to others who are considering placing a loved one in any facility would be to simply be aware. Ask the toughest questions you can think of and don’t be afraid to create discomfort for the facility representative. Your loved one’s well-being is at stake.

Most people know next to nothing about this procedure, and you cannot ask enough questions when dealing with this issue.

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