By Judy Morton
The Cost of Assisted Living… Last year, when my in-laws transitioned into assisted living, we meticulously crafted a care plan tailored to their needs. This plan encompassed assistance with daily tasks, notably bathing, which was particularly vital for my mother-in-law (MIL). MIL greatly appreciates the help she receives with bathing, including scrubbing her back and thorough drying, and truly requires the assistance to dress. On the other hand, my father-in-law (FIL) was less dependent on such help, but his history of falls made us believe that some level of supervision would be prudent, even if he didn't need bathing or dressing assistance. However, this additional assistance came at an extra cost, which was billed monthly starting from last April.. Unfortunately, at the beginning of this year, the ALF (Assisted Living facility) raised the price for these services.
The dilemma we face is that FIL does not consistently wait for the aides to assist him; he prefers to bathe at his own convenience, often less frequently than advisable, in my opinion. Consequently, paying for his assistance seems to be an unjustifiable expense.
Another challenge arises from MIL's enrollment in hospice care since September. Hospice provides aides to assist her with bathing and dressing, at no cost to us. So, for the past six months, we have either been paying for services she is not receiving from the ALF or Medicare has been covering hospice services for care she doesn't receive from hospice. Either way, these services are essentially double-billed, either directly from their finances or through taxes that fund Medicare.
This is a situation that no one warns you about: how care facilities can add service charges when needed but conveniently "forget" to remove them when they are no longer necessary. Moreover, MIL's memory has become increasingly unreliable. She struggles to remember names and job titles, forgets who did what, and why. She might tell us one thing, but the paper trail often contradicts her recollections. In such cases, I find myself leaning more towards trusting the documented records.
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My husband had a candid conversation with the ALF director regarding FIL's bathing assistance charges. After investigating, the director concurred that these charges were unwarranted and should be refunded. However, the topic of MIL's assistance was somewhat overlooked. This prompted me to initiate a discussion with the management of the hospice agency, which eventually led to an email addressed to the ALF director. In this instance, we are not seeking a refund, although we have justifiable grounds for it. Instead, we are simply requesting the discontinuation of this charge.
On the surface, it may not seem like a significant sum – just a couple of hundred dollars a month. Yet, over the course of a year, this could accumulate to a few thousand dollars. Considering the cost of medications and the overall expense of maintaining someone in a quality care facility, managing the budget becomes paramount. We are tasked with the delicate balance of ensuring they have all their necessary amenities while also preserving their financial resources for as long as possible. It's a tightrope walk, but one that is unquestionably worth undertaking. There is nothing more distressing than the thought of relocating them due to financial constraints.
In summary, our journey through assisted living costs has been a learning experience filled with unexpected twists and turns. It underscores the importance of vigilant oversight when dealing with care facilities and their charges, as well as the need to advocate for our loved ones to ensure they receive the services they genuinely require while safeguarding their financial well-being.
Meet Judy Morton
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