‘Toughest thing I’ve ever done’: Prineville man feels impact of soaring assisted living cost ‘crisis’ – KTVZ

(Update: Adding video, comments from Oregon’s long-term care ombudsman)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) — Nearly every day, Doug Kastner travels half an hour to Carriage Place Memory Care in Prineville to check on his 93-year-old mom.

Kastner is a vet and retired firefighter, so the time and effort doesn’t bother him.

What does cause issues is the big increase in cost for assisted living, and lack of useful resources to help.

“This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kastner said Thursday. “After moving her in and having the changes and having to deal with that and find a better way that’s okay for mom, I don’t know how to proceed.”

In the four years since his mother moved into Carriage Place, the payments have increased from $1,484 a month to $3,960 a month. 

Kastner covers some of the payment, and his dad sold their ranch to help.

“I mean you lose weight, you lose sleep,” Kastner said. “It’s stressful. It’s really stressful.”

According to Fred Steele, Oregon’s long-term care ombudsman, Kastner is not alone.

“Coming out of Covid, we’re effectively as a state, but even as a nation in long-term care coming into a new crisis,” Steele said. 

Due to staffing shortages and overall inflation, Steele said he’s seeing price increases of 12-20 percent around the state.

“You’re talking hundreds of dollars more per month for somebody that is otherwise on fixed income,” Steele said. “It’s shocking, every time it happens.” 

He said as long as the price increase fits within the facility’s contract, it’s legal.

“It falls into these free-market principles, where they’d have to start looking to see if they want to move elsewhere,” Steele said. “Unfortunately ,that’s the solution right now.”

Kastner said other facilities he’s called are either just as expensive, or too far to travel.

“And I had the marketing gal tell me from another place, ‘What do you think about putting her in Burns?’ I said, ‘Well, I won’t see mom again ’til she dies and I pick up the body,” Kastner said. 

NewsChannel 21 asked Steele when he believes things could turn around. 

“Right now I don’t — I’m not sure where we’re going to turn that corner to get better,” Steele said. “I’m concerned about this next year of price increases.”