Understanding the Rights of Residents Living in Nursing Homes

Encouraging an elderly loved one to enter a long-term care facility is a difficult process. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys understand that handling the financial affairs in preparation for this care is only half the battle. Many mental and emotional challenges remain when deciding whether to move a senior out of their own home and into a long-term care facility. This process is made even more difficult by the stigmas associated with nursing home life. Popular culture spreads the perception of these facilities as prison-like institutions where a senior’s freedoms are restrained and their quality of life deteriorates. That need not be the case.

As a Daily Finance article this week explains, dispelling the misperceptions about long-term care facilities begins with understanding the rights retained by residents of these homes. There is often misunderstanding about the degree of power that nursing home staff members have over residents in their care. For example, some area families are mistakenly told that their loved one cannot leave the facility without doctor permission. This is usually inaccurate. As one advocate with the National Senior Citizens Law Center explained, “The person isn’t incarcerated and doctors are professionals hired to give advice, not force people to do things against their will.”

There are many other freedoms which residents and their relatives maintain when they enter a nursing home. Resident families generally cannot be restricted to specific visiting hours and they must be allowed to participate in planning care. Also, residents maintain the right to chose when they wake up, go to bed, and similar daily freedoms. The National Senior Citizen Law Center provides a comprehensive list of the rights seniors retain whenever they enter a nursing home.

No one gives up basic freedoms when they enter a long-term care facility. However, it is important to remember that overall nursing home quality can vary dramatically. Some facilities have committed the resources to ensure that residents retain as much independence as possible, while others fall far short of that goal. For many area seniors, the quality of the home where they end up living depends on the amount of preparation done ahead of time to account for their long-term care needs. Proper New York elder law estate planning can ensure local residents have the resources they need at the right time to enter a facility that is the best fit for them.

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Having “The Talk” With Elderly Parents

Tips for Children Caring for Aging Parents

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