How Senior Independent Living Communities Discriminate

Independent communities are a great option for seniors, if you can get accepted. These communities offer tiered living situations which consist of independent living, assisted living and nursing home care.  The idea is as one’s health begins to changes and more support is required, services are available to accommodate.

With these communities, a person has a large initial payment like a buy in and then pays a monthly fee.  The initial cost can run, depending on the state, from $100,000 to over $500,000.  Monthly fees range from $2,000 and up.  It is not cheap. The initial amount is reimbursed to the family if you die or to you if you move away.

Many of the elite and expensive communities require the applicant to pass a medical test administered by their medical director, nurse and/or social worker.  The reasoning is, that people have to be able to enter into the independent living section.  It is not possible to enter via assisted living.  I would assume the test is to ferret out  undiagnosed signs and symptoms of any form of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.  I imagine there would be a liability issue if someone moved in who was unable to care for themselves independently and an accident occurred.

I recently had a client who wanted to move into a community because many of his friends were there.  He had the resources.  He also had some medical issues that made him need support.  Both the family and I had secured the services he needed, allowing him to remain independent.  He filled out the extensive application which included a indepth medical section.  He had no diagnosis of dementia.

When he interviewed with the admissions/marketing person, she told him to be ready for the medical exam.  She implied it was a deal breaker and impressed on him he needed to be able to recite his medications.  My client took many medications and had a list he worked from daily.  He became very anxious about the prospect of failing the exam because he might mess up the times he took his medications.

He failed the exam.  Interestingly, the exam was short and his first comment was that they had already made up their mind.  He was never asked about his medications.  I knew that his anxiety could cause him not to answer quickly or ask the interviewer tor epeat the question.  He was very upset and sad.  At 76, he felt a failure.

He was informed within a few hours.  What was supposed to happen was, his application would go to the board’s admission committee and then he would be informed.  It should have taken at least 24 hours.

His family proceeded to try and get some information as to why he had be denied.  I suggested they ask what the criteria was for acceptance.  But the institution is not obligated or required to give the information.  And when asked, they refused to give any information.  The family continues to pursue the reason for denial because my client wanted to be with his friends.

How difficult it was for my client to get a rejection.  The experience left me examining the world of independent communities and assisted living.  With options limited for seniors with resources, it is perplexing why someone would be denied acceptance when medical concerns were not an issue.  It is hard to know when information is not available.  Individual institutions have their criteria and only a few are upfront about it.

If you have every been involved in looking for options like independent communities, it is clear the choices are few.   These communities are like schools who can admit who they want.  As the pool of applicants grows, it is going to become more difficult to find a placement.  For me, I will be able to inform clients that there is the possibility their application may be rejected for no obvious reason.