Researching living options for your loved one can bring about mixed emotions. As you search, think about what makes your loved one most comfortable and happy. Here’s everything you need to factor in when thinking about nursing homes and assistance to make them feel right at home.
Why Consider a Nursing Home?
Families consider nursing homes for several reasons – but of course, every situation is different. Many want to make sure senior citizens are getting proper nutrition, fitness and care they may not follow on their own. Sometimes families aren’t able to give the level of care and day-to-day help they need while balancing other responsibilities. For many, living in a nursing home temporarily is also common when recovering from rehabilitation in hopes of becoming independent again in the future.
Another common reason is for 24/7 care for elders that lived alone and can no longer care for themselves alone. Most importantly, families are concerned about safety when it comes to medication, falls, ailments and other common concerns that could jeopardize their health if they’re not looked after.
Nursing Home Safety
The Nursing Home Abuse Center shared the most common concerns for those living in nursing homes and their families. Families often worry about falls, enough assistive devices (rails, bed lifts, etc.) and staff abuse.
Before you sign a contract, there are a few safety points to check for. Make sure your nursing home has security cameras, sensors and equipment to keep track of who’s coming and going. It’s also helpful to keep track of residents’ safety – especially those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
It’s okay to ask about extra assistive devices to help your loved one move about. Speak with staff about installing a rail, bed lift or other equipment in your room. If the staff has certain restrictions, ask if it’s okay for your family to bring DIY assistance. Keep in mind that some equipment may be considered more harm than help, and could be a restraint.
Your loved one can also have a medical alert in the nursing home for their safety and security. Medical alerts are battery-powered wearables that help detect falls and are easy ways to call for help. Some include GPS tracking, automatic fall detection and are waterproof so it’s safe to use in the shower – where falls are most common. Check to see if your insurance company covers medical alerts and see if you’re eligible for any discounts.
How to Choose a Nursing Home for Your Loved One
- Look for nursing homes that are near places and people your loved one is familiar with. Keeping some familiarity can help ease the transition for everyone.
- Ask what your loved one would like in a nursing home. Their new home should have everything they care about most for them to be comfortable and happy. Think about their day to day, what they currently enjoy and what they hope to do more of in the future. Talk to them about what they want to have every day. Maybe it’s special meals, the staff or special care that tailors to their needs. Small accommodations can help make them more comfortable and more supportive of this life change. Make sure the nursing home has group events and recreational activities to keep their residents active and healthy.
- Call and make an in-person visit to your favorite facilities. Consider visiting at least twice at different times to feel confident in your decision. Speak with the staff, look at the menu and sit-in on activities to see if residents are happy. Take time to assess assistive devices such as rails, lifts and walkers to see if they’re in good condition. You should also check for a working security system.
- Research funding options to pay for your loved one’s care. There are many options including Medicare, Medicaid and personal savings. There are also government programs that offer assistance including the Department of Veteran Affairs for eligible veterans and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for assistance during the transition.
- Review the contract with your family to make sure you understand limitations on liabilities, restrictions and other terms that could land your family in jeopardy. It’s best to have the contract reviewed by an attorney before signing. You should also review your loved one’s rights while in care.
As you think about nursing homes and the next steps for your family member, remember to keep their comfort and safety top of mind. Include them in your plans and have an open discussion on their personal preferences. The process of narrowing down the right nursing home can be tough. But, remember to be open, honest, and well-informed on options to make the transition easier and safer for everyone.