Q: My father was a bit of a wild-man and a low level player in organized crime before eventually having a religious conversion, settling down and starting a family. He has a felony conviction related for a non-violent crime related to cigarette smuggling dating back to 1972.
Dad served his time, was born again, and has been on the right side of the law ever since then. Now he is elderly and needs personal care at an assisted living community. Will his criminal record be an obstacle towards finding care for him? Thanks in advance.
Aging with a Criminal Record
Assisted living communities do their very best to assure resident safety. Part of this protocol involves criminal background checks for all staff. Some communities also conduct background checks on prospective residents, and the community’s rental application may ask information about whether the applicant has a criminal history. Your father should definitely be forthcoming on an application form. You may want to casually mention your father’s status before beginning the application process to see whether it could be a roadblock to finding placement. The fact father’s conviction was more than forty years ago, and that he has served his time and been a responsible citizen since then weigh in his favor.
I have not heard about a resident being denied admission due to a non-violent crime that occurred decades ago, but violent crimes are quite another matter. Conviction for a violent crime understandably raises red flags, can be a major barrier to entry at a long term care facility. For instance, convicted sex offenders are very likely to be denied entrance to a community unless they can convincingly demonstrate that they are not a threat. (For more information on this issue, an article Long-term Care Magazine goes into some depth about the challenge of housing sex offenders at senior communities.)