Safety, Affordability, and Moving into Assisted Living Facilities During COVID-19

By Kimberly Townsend

Kimberly Townsend is president and CEO of Loretto, based in Syracuse.
Kimberly Townsend is president and CEO of Loretto, based in Syracuse.

Many individuals and families saw the silver lining while working from home this summer, taking advantage of having more time together. But as our region, our state and our country start to reopen, we are all facing new challenges — including renewed expectations from work while trying to balance the continued need to care for loved ones at home.

Even though assisted living facilities are not fully reopened to visitors, it is important to know that they are still accepting new residents.

While you and your loved ones may not be able to meet with assisted living facility staff in person or take a physical tour of the buildings, this should reassure you of the safety measures at those facilities — not deter you.

Making the change to assisted living is a big transition for your loved one and the rest of your family. In addition to ensuring a safe environment, the other most common question is the financial cost when exploring the best fit for your loved one’s physical, emotional and social needs.

Here are a few tips to help you evaluate available options:

• Different facilities employ different payment methods, like higher deposits or additional fees for certain amenities. Be sure to fully understand how your loved one’s needs may change in the future and how that may affect your budget.

• Certain assisted living facilities may have move-in incentives. Ask if these or any other incentives are available.

• Depending on the payment plan, some amenities can be bundled together. To avoid paying for too many unnecessary services within the bundle, ask about an “a la carte” option.

• A good location is extremely important and convenient for the sake of family visitation. However, cheaper assisted living options may be available right outside of your local zip code.

• Larger assisted living communities operate like businesses, so they may offer price breaks at the end of every month or financial quarter.

A phone call or virtual video meeting with a representative from the facility can also help you understand what will be needed as well as what is not allowed when moving your loved one into assisted living.

Clothing, assistive devices like glasses and hearing aids, and toiletries such as medications, hygienic and beauty products, may seem obvious. But you may also need to bring chairs for guests, kitchenware, bedding, light fixtures, books, magazines, a television or radio.

There are also some items that may not be allowed. For example, large furniture, wheeled chairs, and area rugs can be tripping hazards and may take up too much space. It is important to check with the facility for their requirements, restrictions and recommendations.

Don’t wait for assisted living facilities to reopen to visitors before you consider getting the care that your loved one might need. Waiting too long could prove detrimental for both you and your loved ones. Call now for a phone conversation, video chat and virtual tour of the spaces available.

And to help ease into this transition, include your loved one in virtual tours and phone or video conversations with representatives from the facility. Explain any concerns about your loved one’s medical conditions or social skills to staff members. Once the staff understands your loved one’s needs, they can better care for their physical and mental health.

Once your loved one is ready to move in, encourage them to explore programs and activities within the facility — which may spark new passions and experiences. And schedule regular visits, either in person (if allowed) or virtually. This can help your loved one adjust to this major lifestyle change and give them something to look forward to, regardless of whether they are struggling or thriving.