Continuing our discussion of providing healthcare support for an aging loved one from the previous published post on healthcare for older adults, we explore choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility in this post.
In the last blog, we discussed things to look for to determine if an aging loved one might need healthcare support. In some cases, they may be able to stay in their home if they just get a little help from friends and family, or a home health aide. But if you’ve identified that your loved one does need help beyond the care you can provide, it may be time to consider choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility for them to move into.
For some families, this is a smooth process in which the loved one recognizes the need for care and agrees to the arrangement. For others, it can start with a challenging discussion that leads to resistance, and possibly some anger or guilt.
You are Trying to Do What Is Best
Remind yourself that you're trying to make the right choice for your loved one. They may not see it that way at first and might make you feel guilty for not taking care of them yourself and opening the discussion of choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility. But you know your limits, particularly if there are medical issues that need attention that are beyond your scope as a loving relative.
Of course, you can't force your loved one to move. In the end, they have to agree with you, at least to the extent that they are willing to make the change.
Having the Talk
The first step is to communicate with your siblings or other friends and relatives who might share the responsibility for care and should have a say in choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility. It will be helpful to have their support, not only financially if required, but also to create a united front. With everyone on the same page, it will be easier to approach your loved one with your concerns.
- Start Early: It might take some time for your loved one to come around to the idea. If you start noticing little issues with their ability to care for themselves, it might be a good time to bring it up as an option to explore down the road. By opening the lines of communication earlier, it may help make it easier to have the bigger conversation later.
- Be Specific: If it's too late to start early, sit down with your loved one and explain why you believe they would benefit from choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility. When you give an example of something they need help with, match it to a statement about the nursing home or assisted living facility will be able to address it.
- Get Third-Party Validation: Including a doctor or religious leader in the discussion might encourage your loved one to consider the situation differently. Sometimes that outside influence can make a big difference.
- Acknowledge Their Feelings and Fears: For many, the loss of independence is the greatest fear of moving into assisted living or a nursing home. Others might simply be afraid of the change, or afraid of living so close to other people. If you can identify their specific fears, you may be able to help them overcome those fears.
- Get Them Involved: Empower them. Remind them that the final decision on choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility is their own, and let them help you choose the facility they will be calling home.
Choosing a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility
Choosing the right senior care facility is an important task. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Staff and Care: This is of primary importance. Make sure there are plenty of workers or nurses on staff, and that they are pleasant and professional. Do your research to ensure the home has a record for safety and high-quality healthcare. U.S. News & World Report offers more suggestions on checking for safety and proper care. And AARP recommends you ask these 10 questions before moving your loved ones into a facility.
- Activities: Even nursing homes should offer some activities, like games, classes, and special events, for the residents. Make sure your loved one is excited about what's on the schedule.
- Food: The food should be healthy and delicious. If your loved one doesn't like it, they may resist eating it.
- Location: If you can choose a home that is close to you, it will be easier for you to visit.
- Price: Budget is a big consideration, and the cost for long-term care can range from less than $40,000 a year to more than $100,000, depending upon your state and whether your loved one goes to assisted living or a nursing home. Perhaps they have insurance that will cover part of the nursing home, or savings that will take care of assisted living. Discuss with your family how you will divide any extra costs. Not all facilities come with the same price tag, so you may be able to shop around a bit to balance the care you need with what you can afford. Never sacrifice safety or quality of care, but amenities and especially location can make a difference in the cost, as can the option to share a room instead of having a private room.
- Keep Monitoring: Don't check your loved one in and neglect to keep a close eye on their progress and the care they receive. Make sure they continue to enjoy it there, and watch for any signs of poor care, like bruises or bed sores. During your visits, watch how the staff is working and how the residents are cared for. Follow up with any concerns your loved one might express during their stay there.
Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are friendly, welcoming places that can take care of your loved one's particular needs while providing a high quality of life. It's a big change for your aging relative, but it doesn't have to be a negative one. With research and open communication, you'll find the right home.
For more information about receiving ongoing support for your caregiving efforts or making decisions about healthcare for seniors, such as choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility, visit our main page.