Letter to the Editor: Assisted-living facility’s charge after death is macabre


My mom died last month, and our family has been wrapping up matters.

Just over four years ago my mother moved to an assisted-living facility in Front Royal where she could live out her final years. While residing there, the facility was absorbed by a large chain headquartered in another city.

It seemed to me that some of the local touch and flexibility may have been lost. The staff, however, remained attentive to mom, so she continued on, but upon her death we were confronted with not only grieving her loss, but surprised by what seemed to be the rigidity of remote centralized management of the facility where she had spent her final years.

This realization was brought to the fore by way of a monetary charge placed against mother for her failure to provide notice of the date she would be vacating. At a frail 95 years of age she undoubtedly felt the tug of mortality, but as most people would understand, she was not capable of forecasting the date on which she would be drawing her last breath.

I wrote to the corporate president concerning their charge continuing beyond mom’s passing and beyond the date on which the room was vacated. His office advised me their contract requires that the decedent continue to pay for 10 days beyond death unless the corporation has been notified of the date on which that client will be expiring. Since mother had not provided notice, the charge would stand.

I understand that corporations are in business to produce profits, but applying such a provision in this circumstance seems macabre in the standard to which it holds a person approaching death, and utterly Draconian in insisting on a term of performance which is humanly impossible to achieve. Their position seems to suggest an indifference with which other families may also be uncomfortable.

Were I to guide other loved ones in the selection of an assisted-living facility, I would urge them to look closely at one that was locally owned and managed, and to read every line of the contract very closely.

Gloria Brown Fox, Elkton, Fla.