Can I Try Out Assisted Living?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I've visited several assisted-living homes with my mother, and she isn't wild about any of them. Is there some way for her to test out a place before she commits? I don't want her to have to move twice.

Expert Answer

Anita Silverman is a geriatric care manager in Lake Worth, Florida.

Fortunately many assisted living facilities offer a temporary-stay option called a "respite" as a way for your mom to test the waters and see if she's comfortable in her new environment before getting in too deep financially. Under this scenario, your mother pays the usual monthly fee (for rent and services) but not the onetime admission or community fee, which can be as much as $3,000. Also, she wouldn't have to give the standard 30-day notice if she decides to leave.

This approach makes a lot of sense. Choosing the wrong facility can be a costly mistake, because with a deposit (which may or may not be refundable), community fee, and 30-day notice, your mom would stand to lose a lot of money -- $7,000 or more. Choosing a long-term home is a weighty decision, and she may need time to sort through and consider her options.

A short trial stay is a great way for your mom to get to know the staff and her fellow residents, sample the food, try some activities, and test out an apartment without the pressure and high stakes involved in a permanent move-in. A respite stay can be arranged for a few days or up to two months.

Some facilities charge by the day (usually around $100), others by the month. This generally entitles your mom to a furnished apartment, transportation, prepared meals and snacks, and personal assistance if she needs it.

Call all of the facilities that seem like good possibilities for your mom and ask if they offer a respite, and if so, what the terms and price are -- it will vary considerably from place to place.


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