What’s Legal At Senior Housing?

There’s a new senior housing complex opening near my house. It’s one that offers meals and recreation opportunities. Since it is closer than the one my mother lives in, I am curious about it.

I went to a talk there, and a few weeks later a rep called me to gage my interest in renting an apartment. I asked a few questions, and was told, “We’re looking for the more active senior.” Translation: they don’t want somebody with the early stages of dementia.

I suspect a lot of these places, over time, as their residents settle in for a few years, find more and more of their residents are “less active” than when the places first opened up.

Here’s my question – how much discrimination is legally allowed at senior apartment complexes? Besides the fact that you have to be a certain age. If you want to rent an apartment for your parent, and then pay for someone to come in and oversee all of his or her needs, what difference does it make to them as long as you pay your rent?

Are other apartment complexes allowed to “do an evaluation” on their seemingly able-bodied, mentally stable residents? Are owners of senior independent living apartments allowed to make such determinations under the law? I’m not talking about dumping off an elderly person and walking away to let them fend for themselves — that would be abuse. What about the Americans With Disabilities Act – how far does this extend to senior apartments? Are the owners and managers afraid a bunch of people walking around with walkers or scooting around in wheelchairs will tarnish their good image?

Also, what happens when a resident’s health starts to go downhill— but there are no family members or others stepping up to intervene with needed assistance? How do these places handle those situations? Does a 70 year old new resident have to provide a name and number of someone who can be called if this person gets a little loopy and needs help when s/he turns 80?

If you have the answers to these questions – please share.

By the way, this place is surrounded by cement. The east end of the property butts up against a parking lot for a big retail store that’s going out of business. The west end fronts a somewhat busy road. The view across the street is a small industrial looking building. The views on the other two sides are also concrete and maybe the glimpse of the sides of some houses on the busy street. I didn’t see any green space…so I can’t really imagine too many mentally active seniors selling their nice homes to move to this concrete campus.

After telling me my mother wouldn’t be eligible to live there, I’ve started receiving their promotional mailings. It was obvious that both the return address and my address labels were hand-affixed by their staff. I guess maybe they hire “challenged” employees…ones that can’t figure out that my mom’s not the kind of resident they want.

One Response to “What’s Legal At Senior Housing?”

  1. Sandy

    Good article and good point! These residents will eventually “age”. Then what is the next step??

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