40 percent of adults over the age of 65 will spend some time in a nursing home

Nursing homes and long-term care options are never favorite topics for conversation, regardless whether you are the elderly person needing care, or the family member trying to find care for a loved one. Still, with the fact that 40 percent of adults over the age of 65 will spend some time in a nursing home, the topic is likely to come up at some point. The question is how do you choose the right nursing home?

SmartMoney addressed the issue in a recent article, offering up some helpful tips. In essence, the name of the game is research, both remote research and actual field research at the prospective nursing homes.

You’ll want to start with a list and fairly quickly trim it down to a short list. You can do so by using this online tool from the Medicare website and, as Larry Minnix, the president of LeadingAge, suggests, picking out only those nursing homes with four or five stars in terms of quality of care and boasting 3.5 to 4.5 hours of nursing care per resident per day.

Narrow it down further by considering cost. Unfortunately this can be difficult since costs and included services vary widely from facility to facility. The important thing to remember is that a higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean a higher quality of care. Remember, too, that your loved one may incur extra costs for services like transportation or special care. Finally, consider how long your loved one may stay in the facility.

Now go out into the field, make multiples visits, and really study to get a feeling for your loved one’s prospective homes. You want to find out how the residents are, how the home runs, and how the employees operate. Speak with the Director of Nursing, the facility Administrator, and the Medical Director – and be sure to check out their qualifications. Be particularly vigilant for any possibility of elder abuse. Ask about the employees, and whether the facility performs background checks before hiring (92% of nursing homes employ at least one person who has been convicted of a crime, and nearly half employ five or more people with criminal backgrounds, according to a government report released this month). Ask about how they handle reports of abuse or neglect.

Finally, ask for a copy of the most recent federal inspection papers, which should enumerate all of the possible problems the home has had. Remember though, this is field research and it is tough, as SmartMoney puts it, “Now is no time to be docile. Grill management and employees.
            You can learn more about nursing home and long-term care options on our website. To stay abreast of news and developments in this field, be sure to follow this blog and our newsletter.

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