Over 1.4 million seniors are currently living in a nursing home in the United States. While most dislike or fear nursing homes, it is usually the best option for a senior that needs 24-hour care. Nursing homes typically have a reputation for being smelly, unfriendly, and indifferent places where the elderly is left to spend their final years until they die. However, there are plenty of nursing home facilities that can be even better than home care, and good facilities outnumber the bad when it comes to nursing home and long-term care.
Preparing to Choose a Nursing Home
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when choosing a nursing home facility is waiting until the last minute. Especially when faced with a medical or financial crisis, being forced into an impulsive decision is never the best option. When choosing a nursing home you need to do the research, start looking around, see what services are available, and figure out what will be best for your loved one.
Three of the simplest ways to begin your nursing home search is through cost, location, and report card. If your loved one qualifies for Medicaid then most of the cost will be absorbed. However, if Medicaid does not apply you can expect costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per month. Location is also a great way to narrow the search for a good nursing home. Finally, the government gives a report card for every nursing home facility in the country, and you can review their reports online.
Nursing Home Specifics
Once you have a list narrowed down start to look at the specifics of each facility. Check to see what specialized services it provides as well as whether your loved one’s health needs can be accommodated. If English is not your loved one’s first language, see if there are staff members who speak the language. Also check to see what activities are available at the facility and how often they can interact with other members at the home.
Do not rely on brochures to choose a nursing home. Be sure to take a tour of the facility and try to come at different times of the day. Observe how the seniors are treated by the staff, and ask around about the quality of care at the facility. If it helps, come in with a prepared checklist of questions to ensure that every aspect of care is covered by you in your tour.
After Choosing a Nursing Home
Once you have chosen a nursing home and your loved one has been admitted your job does not end. Monitoring the care provided to your loved one is critical. You should expect resistance, and you should try to visit as often as possible. In addition, you or someone that you trust should be appointed as a healthcare proxy for your loved one so that critical medical decisions can be made at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, make sure that you are there at times when your loved one is being dressed or changed so that you can look for any signs of abuse. Have access to medical records, and be present when they are examined by the doctor. It is also helpful to have the names of all of the employees who are tasked with your loved one’s care. Keep notes of any concerns and speak with the nursing home staff about it. By checking in after your loved one is in the home you can ensure that it is a good fit for them and that they are getting the care that they need.