Choosing a nursing home or long-term care facility for a loved one is a complicated task. Not only must the caretaker seek out the best and most attentive medical and physical care for their loved one, but they must also consider a multitude of factors including facility safety records, ratings, responsiveness of staff and doctors, availability, costs, location, and more. Adding in the emotional aspect of having a loved one live away from home can make searching for the right fit feel daunting. But there is hope. Doing research on the facilities and seeking out direction and emotional support may help ease the load.
Nursing home care can include helping residents with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing or can include skilled care to include, for example, a higher level of medical care such as giving injections, attending to wounds, and offering different types of therapies. Skilled nursing must be ordered by a doctor to be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or private health insurance. Long-term care includes medical and non-medical care for those who are unable to perform basic activities of daily living. Services may be provided from numerous locations, such as at home, in an assisted living facility, or nursing home. To determine viable care options for a loved one, the needs of the individual should be assessed, as well as the requirements of the caregiver.
It’s vital to educate oneself and take advantage of free and reliable resources throughout the journey. For example, www.medicare.gov addresses how to choose a nursing home. They offer four important measures to take, including finding a facility near your home, comparing the quality of those facilities, visiting them, and selecting the best fit. They also provide sound steps, such as talking to your doctor to determine if they provide care at any nearby facilities and seeking out the advice of friends and family. For a comparison of nursing home qualities, visit the Medicare website and search nursing home compare. In addition, contact the state health departments and licensing agencies and use the internet to obtain information related to quality of care.
Visiting a nursing home is one of the most important steps in the decision-making process, as it provides caregivers with a picture of how the residents and staff interact within that setting. It’s a sound idea to ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you on the visit. Go prepared with a scheduled appointment with a staff member and a list of questions to ask. Questions may include nurses to patient ratio, which doctors are on call and their responsiveness, what patient therapies are available, are there private room verses semi-private or other options, is transportation to specialists included, can the care facility address special dietary needs, and so forth. Bring a notebook to take notes and speak up if any answers are unclear. Visit www.medicare.gov to obtain a nursing home compare checklist to review, print, or help you create your own.
Beyond care, location, and money, are top considerations. Location is important as it enables one to visit a loved one more easily and get to and from the facility faster. This is particularly important for people who commute daily to see a loved one. Note that many things can affect overall cost, including where you live, length of stay, care service required, whether a facility’s rates are all inclusive, etc. Addressing costs associated with a nursing home stay is also essential. Reviewing the patient’s insurance health policy, long-term care insurance, and Medicare or Medicaid coverage that can help with costs is a necessary step. Per Genworth, in 2020, the median yearly cost of nursing home care was $93,075 for a semi-private room and $105,850 for a private room. The median nursing home monthly cost was $7,756 for a semi-private room and $8,821 for a private room. The cost of nursing home care is nearly double to cost of assisted living. As people grow older, they generally require more services. If you are paying out-of-pocket, be sure to contact a qualified trusted source, such as your CPA or financial advisor, for direction.
Referral services, such as A Place for Mom at https://www.aplaceformom.com, are also available for those in need. They offer local advisors to provide information regarding more than 20,000 senior housing and elder care providers. Without a doubt, AMAC is among the most valuable resources for America’s seniors. Doing the best for your loved one is critical, and AMAC supports staying intricately connected to our senior family members. It was AMAC who pushed against the burden of loneliness and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting virtual visits with family members in nursing homes so that loved ones could stay connected. AMAC also fought to expand access to telehealth services via H.R. 596 to provide healthcare access to seniors living in facilities who might otherwise be neglected during the pandemic.
Finding a nursing home or a long-term care facility for a loved one is not an easy task. Sometimes, in the best interest of everyone involved, a decision must be made quickly. However, whether quick or slow, it remains important to be pro-active and visit and compare facilities, ask the right questions, educate oneself, and lean on others who are knowledgeable and trustworthy. Having the tough conversation in advance may also help couples and families narrow down options and fulfill the wishes of aging family members. When in doubt, know that you are not alone and that there are a multitude of decent resources, including AMAC, to turn to for help.
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