Is Clearance From a Physician Needed Before Moving Into Assisted Living?

The decision to move into an assisted living community is a major one. It is not something to be taken lightly. If you have decided to move to an assisted living community, you undoubtedly need more information about that whole process. The same is true if you are the adult child of a senior mother or father who is on course to move into assisted living.

One area in which you likely have questions is whether you need medical clearance from your doctor before moving into an assisted living community. In this article, we discuss what will be required regarding a medical examination and doctor’s sign-off before moving into an assisted living community.

Information From Your Own Doctor

As part of an assisted living application process, a community is apt to require you to obtain some basic information from your primary care physician. Specifically, needed information usually centers around any existing medical condition you have at this time.

In many cases, senior elects to move to an assisted living community because of some medical condition that might make it more challenging to address some activities of daily living. In other words, assisted living communities routinely welcome new residents with a wide array of medical conditions.

What is likely to be needed from your doctor is that if you have a medical condition, you can address any specific needs associated with that issue. For example, if you need to take medications in an assisted living community, you will need to be able to self-administer those medications. The staff of an assisted living community will undertake medication management on your behalf. However, the staff cannot administer medications.

Recommendation From Your Doctor

In addition to situations in which a physician confirms that an individual with medical conditions meets the criteria of an assisted living community – the capability to self-administer medications, for example – primary care doctors often are called upon to make recommendations about the suitability of this type of long-term care environment for a senior.

Family members might need clarification on whether an aging loved one should move to an assisted living community. In that situation, a senior and his or her adult children might ask a primary care physician to consider that older individual’s overall health. When this is undertaken, they might seek a recommendation regarding the propriety of the senior family member moving into an assisted living community.

Assessment by Assisted Living Community

In addition to medical assessments or recommendations obtained by a senior’s primary care physician before moving into an assisted living community, the facility typically undertakes its general health assessment of a prospective resident. In this regard, a doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse, or a similar type of healthcare provider may examine and assess a prospective resident to ensure that the senior meet requirements regarding any existing health condition. This process likely includes an abbreviated physical examination, questions to the prospective resident (and family members, in some cases), and a medical history review.

If questions arise regarding a particular medical condition, the prospective resident may be asked to permit the healthcare professional associated with an assisted living community to consult with the prospective resident’s primary care physician to obtain additional information. Any requests to consult with a primary care physician or for additional medical history information can only be undertaken with the consent of the senior interested in moving into a particular assisted living community.

Importance of Full Disclosure

If you are considering moving into an assisted living community, you should be committed to full disclosure of medical matters. As mentioned previously, there are some restrictions regarding what types of medical conditions are permissible in an assisted living community. If you attempt to “hide” a particular medical issue to get into an assisted living community, the ultimate consequences will be two-fold:

First, state law restricts assisted living communities regarding what type of medical conditions can be accommodated in a long-term care facility of this nature. When it is discovered that a resident has such a condition, that senior can no longer continue residency in an assisted living community.

Second, by “fibbing” about the existence of a medical condition that excludes a person from residency in an assisted living, a senior places himself or herself in the position of having breached his or her contract with an assisted living community. Such a contract nearly always references confirmation of providing accurate information during the application process. A failure to do so represents a breach of contract.

In the final analysis, the pre-admission medical screening process is manageable. A prospective resident should be fine with the assisted living admissions process if accurate information is obtained and provided.