Has this ever happened to you?
When my kids were young, my wife and I booked a cabin in a “resort” just above Lake George. We had never done that kind of thing before and knew nothing about the area or the available places. We had high expectations as we put together a list of potential places.
We narrowed the list to five or six, all seemingly offering the same thing but with prices all over the board. We settled on one that was at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. The whole family was looking at the brochure in our living room. It showed horseback riding, games for the kids, playgrounds, and ball fields. According to the material, the accommodations featured spacious cabins with air conditioning and full kitchens. We couldn’t wait to get there.
We were immediately set back on our heels when we arrived. Nothing was at all like what we saw in the brochure. It was dirty, with just a sink and a small college-type refrigerator that was lukewarm. There was a swing set but the swing was broken. There was a horse that the kids could sit on for an additional fee but no riding of the horse was allowed. My wife was in tears and the kids wanted to go home. We stayed one night and left.
Most everyone has a vacation horror story but it’s getting much easier these days to avoid them. Online reviews, ratings by travel sites, customer comments, and apps like Yelp and Airbnb make choosing a fantastic vacation getaway so much easier. These tools put the customer in the driver’s seat; they give us a level of control that we never had before.
Many times in my career I have come across well-intentioned individuals looking for a long term care or rehabilitation facility for a loved one and they’re in a scenario similar to my vacation experience.
It usually starts with their family member experiencing an unexpected medical event. They never saw this kind of thing happening to their family and thus were unprepared. As it becomes clear that some kind of post-hospital care is in order, the hospital is suddenly running the show.
A social worker at the hospital asks them to identify eight potential places from a list of 30 or 40 facilities. They are asked to fill out a financial form that lists all the income and assets of the person needing care. As they wait for a facility, they quickly find out that health insurance and Medicare coverage is not possible, or that there is very little coverage in a care facility. If none of the eight facilities accept their family member, the social worker will place their loved one in the first available bed they can find. This generally results in the family discovering that not all nursing homes are the same.
This scenario is all too typical but it doesn’t have to be this way.
My advice to everyone reading this article is to start looking at your particular situation and decide for yourself how much control you want in this area of your life. Just like the changes in the vacation industry that make a great experience easier to obtain, there are plenty of tools available for people to make better choices for extended care.
You can avail yourself of web sites, online reviews, on-site facility tours, elder care consultants, and long term care insurance, just to name a few. All these tools are designed to put you in the diver’s seat, ensuring that your loved one gets the best possible care.
Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is that you make the choice. You deserve to be in control and your loved one deserves the best outcome. Don’t be one of the people who find themselves in an unfortunate situation and have to say, “I wish we could have avoided this”.
Image shared by Sam Topping. www.thephotogrpaherslink.com