How To Select A Nursing Home

| Thursday, February 6, 2014
By Kristana Jenson

Nursing homes are facilities that offer long-term nursing care as well as short-term care. While most patients are older adults, sometimes younger people need nursing home care, as well. If you need to place a loved one in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home, this is a big and often complicated decision, so here is some helpful information that might make the process a bit easier.

Short-term care is one of the services provided at a nursing home, and you might need this for any number of reasons. Sometimes a car accident causes injuries that require constant medical care and rehabilitative services but not at the high level a hospital provides. Once a patient is stable, a nursing home is a place where a person can receive care and also attend physical, occupational and speech therapy as needed. Other instances when a nursing home is needed might be after a stroke or after a bad fall, when bones have been broken. A nursing home can provide the round-the-clock assistance and care more easily than you can in your own home.

Many times, however, long-term care is what people are seeking out when they look for a nursing home. Sometimes a person is suffering from a fatal disease, such as cancer or AIDS or emphysema and needs a great deal of medical care. Other people might have severe dementia or Alzheimer's and need both daily care as well as some level of security. While we might want to care for our loved one at home, this simply is not an option for many people. After all, we lack nursing and medical training and may not even have any type of space in our home that will work for even in-home hospice care.

Nursing homes also are an option for seniors who cannot manage many daily tasks without help, such as remembering to take medicines, remembering to eat properly or even personal grooming. While this also can be accomplished at an assisted living community, these are very expensive, so budgetary concerns might limit your option to a skilled nursing facility where Medi-Cal is accepted. Just like at an assisted living facility, the staff will help with day-to-day tasks, as well as providing meal services, laundry and housekeeping. Not only is that helpful, the skilled medical staff are there 24/7 if medical care is needed. This can be a good option for people who do not have family that is able to care for them at home.

When searching for a nursing home, try to find one that is close to friends and family so that visiting is easier. Also, it is wise to look at several facilities and talk to the director and the staff to truly get a feel for the level of care and commitment offered. It helps to write out a list of questions to ask prior to your visit and make notes, so you can compare facilities. Your first impressions are important so take a good look around. Check to see if the staff is courteous, friendly and engaging and the facility looks clean and cheerful and that the residents seem happy. Make a note of any interaction between residents and staff.

Nursing home facilities have long had a negative stigma and often can seem a bit institutional in nature, but that is slowly changing as skilled nursing facilities are doing more to improve the ambiance and amenities. Shop around for a facility that offers some good social activities for your loved one and find a place where the residents seem happy. The best scenario is to find a place where a friend is already living as this can lower anxiety tremendously for your loved one and also can give you greater insight into the way the home is operated.

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