Monday, August 11, 2008

Time to Move???

My brother Ian and I visited one of the senior housing facilities here on Oahu -- Pohai Nani, operated by an arm of the Lutheran Church. It's in Kaneohe, on the opposite side of the island from Honolulu but relatively near Ian and Meda's home in Ka'a'awa. The setting is lovely. Think Pacific Estate -- or gracious southern plantation. There are lawns, gardens, tall trees, and all buildings but the tower (the main building) nestled inobtrusively among them. The apartments range from 350 sq ft studios to 850 sq ft 2-bedroom units, including 15 duplexes of 1-bedroom apartments spread over the grounds. In the public rooms there is lots of glass and light. This is the only facility on Oahu serving 3 meals dailty. Most include 2 meals daily, or in one case 30 meals per month, included in your monthly fee. There is a kitchenette in each unit -- refrigerator and 2-burner cooktop, you add toaster-oven and microwave if you want them. There is a full kitchen in the common area on each floor if you occasionally need more cooking space. Likewise the laundry. Sheets are changed weekly, and someone does light housekeeping twice weekly. Washers and dryers are on each floor for personal laundry. Pohai Nani has a long-term care unit, but not a memory (aka dementia/alzheimer's) unit. There is a small but well-put together library, and a community-operated bus making regular trips to Honolulu, Kailua and Kaneohe. A nice feature are the guest units, which guests of a resident can use up to 14 consecutive days for $95/night -- a rate that includes daily breakfast!

One Kalakaua has long been Mother's preference, but it is operated by a homeowner's association, with all the political prejudices and intrigues typical of homeowner associations everywhere. After living as a part of one for more than 30 years, I don't think I would want my life care decisions left to such a body. As one of the Honolulu papers pointed out several years ago, in this homeowner's association the average age of members is 85 years, all wealthy, none having much better to do than fuss about petty annoyances. It will be at the bottom of our list of places to visit.

Kahala Nui is in the neighborhood, just a mile up the road. They have a larger percentage of large units here -- both 2- and 3-bedrooms available. They advertise "You are never asked to leave", and include assisted living, long term care, and a memory unit as part of their facility. Of course, you pay extra for those services. Actually, Kahala Nui is practically a neighborhood in itself, but is very urban in character. It's quite a contrast with the look and feel of Pohai Nani. Here you buy your apartment, pay a very large monthly service fee in addition, and get 90% of your apartment cost back when you die or leave. Mother goes into sticker shock at the price. They would definitely have to sell this house to go there. Or at minimum, take a reverse mortgage.

The last alternative is home care. There is an outfit Ian found that does case management, including helping you hire and making your payroll, assuring that all the appropriate taxes and withholdings are paid. I don't know whether they can make this system work without live-in assistance. That's another pricey option ....

Ah, yes, the third option. Bonnie. Am I prepared to do this for an unlimited time? I don't know. I had intended for this to be a part-time deal, 6 months at a time. ...

Look for the good. Give thanks. Keep praying.

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