How do if know if a community is a safe place for mom or dad?

MemoryBanc Daily Money Management Services
MemoryBanc offers practical assistance to age-in-place.

My parents tried to get ahead of having one of us choose a community to help with their care. The bought into a Life Care Community in 1998. However, they never really wanted to live there.

It got comical when they told us they didn’t want to really move in yet because that is where all the “old people” lived. My parents were in the mid-70s and treated the community as a vacation home and went on weekends.

I recently heard a statistic that the average age of those that move into retirement communities are now in their 80s. Most people want to stay in their homes as long as they can. However, I also see the isolation of those who lose a spouse or just withdraw from their network of friends. For those that give up the car keys, it gets harder to stay connected. Those are most of the clients I work with and I understand the tension between aging-in-place and moving to a community. The answer is different for everyone.

As Dr. Gawande simply states in the best-seller “Being Mortal” — many of us want safety for loved ones while those we are helping, want purpose and meaning. However, it’s hard to know if the community you are looking at is right for your loved ones.

A recent news story in our local paper shared that dozens of nursing homes in Virginia were fined for violations. It’s heartbreaking to know that many individuals who are at their weakest are not getting the kind of care their need. Unfortunately, it is a reality of the industry and one that means that family and loved ones need to be vigilant and be the voice for those that can’t advocate for themselves.

When I needed to find a different community for my mom who was a very active woman with moderate dementia, I hired a local aging life care manager from Caring Considerations. They helped narrow down my choices and my siblings and I had the opportunity to tour and select the one we thought was best for mom.

The reason to hire someone to help with this are many. First, online community locators are compensated by the communities they send you for the leads they produce. I wanted an impartial expert to help me find the right place for mom.

I have also referred some families to the senior community advisor that serves my local community. They are compensated by some of the communities they refer to, so I suggest you a schedule a call to learn more about how they can help you and how they are compensated.

You want to know about how the residents and their families have found the community. Most aging life care managers and senior advisors have clients living in the communities and have an inside view.

The final reason is that you will want to know if there are violations. You can search for the ratings on Nursing homes on the Medicare site here.  Unfortunately, this is only for the skilled nursing, so having someone who knows about an Assisted Living or Memory Care community can help offer some additional comfort to a difficult choice.

Even the top communities aren’t able to staff to meet all the needs of their residents. It’s a shame to know that we haven’t figured out how to compassionately meet the needs of our elders. Aging Ain’t for Sissies. Considered. 

Is my Mom in the right place?

retirementcommMy siblings and I have had a love/hate relationship with my parents retirement community.  I know that our journey would have been infinitely more difficult had our parents not made this choice. The fact that the community stepped in and forced them to move into Assisted Living saved us from having to petition the court for conservator/guardianship.

We’ve had a rocky road when it comes to our expectations of and the delivery of services. I have too many posts dedicated to this topic to detail, but currently, we are trying to determine if Assisted Living is the right place for my Mom who has dementia.

My Mom has been in Assisted Living for more than a year, and for quite some time, she was not very nice to the staff or even the other residents. My Dad helped manage this when he was alive, but after he died, it got even more difficult and we were told we had to bring in additional support and adjust medications or they would begin a 30-day discharge process. I’m simplifying the story here admittedly – there is a lot more that happened.

Assisted Living is not geared specifically toward someone with dementia. We started to notice that many of the staffers really don’t like my Mom and witnessed some situations that were disconcerting. We assumed the staff would be able to understand and accept her behavior and were trained to manage someone with dementia. However, even we recognize that sometimes things my Mom did felt very personal.

We have hired additional personal assistants daily from 1 to 9 PM for more than 3 months. My Mom has started to ask for a schedule and has episodes where she doesn’t recognize her apartment.

When we were told that my Mom might be discharged in 30-days, we started to look for other options. Because of my business, MemoryBanc, I meet many people in the senior community. I met two women a year ago that started a business to help families find the right living community. One of them has worked in management for retirement communities, the other is a registered nurse – both were caregivers to their parents and decided there was an unmet need to assist families in the search process and they launched Caring Considerations.  I hired them to help me find the right place for Mom – there are dozens in the metro-DC area. I also wanted some help to know what I should be looking for.  They helped me find several wonderful options and have helped me understand the disease process as well as what to look for in a community. .

I realized after the first tour, that a facility geared toward someone with dementia has many resources to better serve my Mom’s needs. Discovered.

This will be an ongoing topic as we move through this process …. more to come. 

Finding $2,500 of my Dad’s in Kansas

treasurechestStepping in to assist a parent is an overwhelming task. Trying to organize my parents medical, financial, personal and household papers was a job requirement. I needed an easy way to collect and document the information so I could easily find it as well as hand it off to a sibling who came to town to give me a break from caregiving. The experience fueled me to launch MemoryBanc

Many people are unaware that $58 billion is sitting in state and federal treasuries — it’s money that got lost in the shuffle of a move, crisis and even death. As a caregiver, you should know about the MissingMoney.org website. You can do one search and see if any of your loved ones money ended up in a state treasury. Every year, I do a quick search to see if anything slipped through the cracks. Last year, we found several accounts – one was in the name of my Grandfather, and the second was in the name of my Dad.

My sister started digging and learned that we could just go right to the state where the money was lost to claim our money. If you use the service on MissingMoney, they will take a cut or “finder’s fee” of your money. See additional information on this topic below. 

We find that my Granddad’s money is less than $100 and requesting the forms we’d need to claim would cost more than we would recoup, so we leave that money alone. However, when we learn that my Dad had money that was left in Kansas — and we have all the forms with the exception of the a proof of residency for their home in 1968 — my sister finds out how to get the old title to prove his residency.

Within weeks, we get a check for $2,500. We moved from Kansas in 1969 and grew up hearing stories about how my parents had to borrow the down payment to buy our home. The idea that there were assets that got left in Kansas more than 40 years ago that ended up being worth $2,500 is a little mind-blowing.

Given the amount of accounts you accumulate today, it’s easy to understand how easy it might be to forget about a stock certificate, utility deposit, or even a small retirement account. Enriched. 

HOW TO SEARCH FOR MISSING MONEY

To do a quick search to see if you are entitled to missing funds, visit MissingMoney.org. Enter your name and state and you will get back a list of possible matches. You can use their services to collect your money, or:

1) Go to the state web site where you believe you may have missing money

2) Search the state web site for “missing” or “unclaimed money”

3) Make a direct claim following the web site instructions.

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MissingMoney does not include all states and not all the information — in particular some very old records. To learn more about this topic, check out Mary Pitman who wrote a book on the topic https://www.facebook.com/TheMissingMoneyLady