When your parents reach a certain age, it may become unsafe or impractical for them to continue living at home alone. It’s at this point that you have to consider alternative options – such as nursing home facilities. But instead of just placing them in the first one that you find, it’s wise to do your due diligence and find one that’s a good fit for everyone involved.
Different Types of Nursing Home Facilities
The term “nursing home” is actually a broad title that describes a number of different facilities. Generally speaking, there are three levels of care within this category:
- Independent living. Also referred to as “continuing care retirement communities” or “life plan communities,” independent living facilities are essentially apartment complexes that have activities and options for members to participate in. They’re social communities of people in a similar stage of life, rather than hands-on care facilities.
- Assisted living. The next stage is assisted living. As the name suggests, these facilities help patients on an as-needed basis with things like dressing, bathing, eating, and medication.
- Skilled nursing. For patients that are incapable of caring for themselves and/or have serious medical needs, skilled nursing facilities provide around-the-clock are from doctors, nurses, and other trained specialists.
It’s important that you know which category your parent fits into so that you can narrow your search based on their needs.
5 Factors to Consider
Depending on where you’re located, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. As you seek out a nursing home facility for your parents, here are some different factors to consider:
- Signs of Abuse
“Federal law and the laws of most states require nursing home facilities to provide an environment that maintains the highest possible physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being of each resident,” Becker Law explains. “Reports of residents suffering from accidental injury, malnutrition, dehydration, and pressure ulcers (bed sores) are far too common, as are instances of medication errors by nursing home employees.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is rather common in many parts of the country. As you do your research, be on the lookout for signs of abuse. They’re often subtle and easy to overlook.
While location shouldn’t be the only factor you look at, it’s definitely a key factor. You want it to be conveniently located so that you and other loved ones can easily visit from time to time. If you can find a facility in the same city you live in, this would be ideal.
- Ability to Serve Future Needs
Don’t make the mistake of only thinking about your parents’ needs in the moment. In all likelihood, they won’t get much better. Instead, their health is likely to deteriorate further over time.
“It’s important to balance optimism with a dose of realism,” Jeff Anderson writes for A Place for Mom. “Be realistic about you or your loved one’s current care needs as well as their anticipated needs. Ideally, you will choose a community that is equipped to provide care now and in the future, as loved ones age.”
- Staff Interactions
You can learn a lot about a nursing home facility by studying the staff and how they interact with each other, residents, and visitors.
Look for signs of an over stressed or overworked staff. Observe how they respond to patient requests for care. Watch how they interact with one another. You should even listen to the music they play. Does it sound like they’re playing music they like – such as new pop or hip-hop songs – or tunes their guests would prefer? Small things like this matter.
Clearly cost is going to be a point of contention for most. Compare prices across different facilities and have a conversation with your parents about their finances. How much money do they have saved? How long will it last them? Can you afford to help? Exploring questions like these will give you a better idea of what’s realistically affordable.
Follow Up With Your Parents
Once you place your parents in a nursing home facility, your job isn’t done. It’s important that you stay in regular communication, make visits in-person, and stay abreast of what’s happening with their health and finances. Roles have reversed, and you are now your parents’ caregiver – even from afar. Don’t take this responsibility lightly.