Waiting Too Long Before Considering Retirement Community Options is an Avoidable Mistake


Betty Smith thought she had time. There was no rush to begin looking at retirement communities because she felt fine and really didn’t want to leave her suburban home. But once she slipped on the black ice on her driveway and fell to the ground, she knew she was in trouble.

You may not realize the position you put yourself into by delaying a decision to begin looking at retirement communities. It may be empowering to think you can begin researching communities at any time; it is also unfortunate. A health issue or accident may occur, and a quick decision is forced upon you. Having an unobscured window of choice is always the best way to begin.  Here are some of the consequences of waiting too long before considering community options:

Out of Time
Even though time seems to move very slowly for a patient in a hospital, you can run out of time following an acute health episode like a heart attack, stroke, fall or accident. Following treatment at a hospital, you may need to go to a rehabilitation facility for four to six weeks for further strengthening. Recovery goals there may be to improve steadiness, gait, ability to move around the home and return to your previous functional level. If these goals can’t be met through physical, occupational or respiratory therapy, then you are handed a very sobering challenge: You may not be strong enough to return home without additional supports. For many, this may mean looking for an assisted living community in order to be discharged from the rehab facility. You may have 4-8 days of notice. Not much time. There are many decisions to be made.

Losing Control
Where will I move? How will I manage the move? Considering that you may be stuck in a rehabbed, your ability to visit and research area communities will be limited. If you have adult children living locally, they may be able to assist you. Do they have time, energy, and the right temperament to research, locate, tour and evaluate a community? Do they have enough emotional and financial stability in their lives to also deal with the life challenges resulting from your health issues? And if the answer is no, what other options do you have? This is how control is lost.

Reduced Choices
How about your energy level or the energy level of those who are attempting to help you? Can they bring sufficient focus and drive in order to address the many issues required to make an appropriate decision, such as what kind of care will you need, are there any dietary concerns, what about pets, are there lingering issues at your home, do you have dependents, etc.? Finally, does the community you have selected even have a room for you? How long might the wait list be? Are there any issues that are making the communities hesitate to admit you, such as wounds that are not healing, your ability to transport yourself from bed to standing, cognitive concerns such as delusional thinking or reversible dementia? And can you even afford a bed at that community?

Overcoming Procrastination for a Safe Outcome
Is there a price for procrastination? Of course there is, and it comes in the form of making a high-stress decision with very little notice and normally, no knowledge of what you’re getting into. When faced with these circumstances, it can be very helpful to have a professional guiding you through the transition. The Senior Care Advisors at CarePatrol have spent thousands of hours evaluating the providers in our network by researching their state care and violation histories. And, we’re routinely in and out of our communities and have a very good idea of which type of resident would thrive in each. CarePatrol can educate you on your options and guide you through the process, and it’s a free service to our families and seniors.

About the author
Sandi Wake


CarePatrol of Western Michigan

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