BEFORE YOU BEGIN
As a prelude to beginning this journey, here are a couple of reminders:
- Don’t rush the process. Remember your own children are watching how you care for your parents, and probably will consider using some of the very techniques you use to help them when and if that day comes for you to move.
- Don’t do this alone. Find a support system for yourself, a group of individuals who will be there for you ‘in the trenches’ when you need to let your hair down; a group of people who will not judge you but who will hold you accountable to keep pressing in to help find better care for your loved one.
- Don’t have loose lips. Please weigh your words wisely around your loved one. I remember when one of my relatives was recovering in a hospital, and within earshot of my relative, the group of well-meaning-but-careless people mentioned how it might ‘do her good to be PUT into a nursing home’. Well, upon hearing THAT my recuperating relative lost her fight and shortly died. To me, ‘putting someone into a home’ is akin to not caring about an individual's needs or wants, while just presuming that your decisions are better than what your loved one really knows, anyway.
- Don’t carelessly disrespect your loved one. Learn to develop the attitude of working WITH your loved one in finding a more suitable place to live. Make them part of the process as far as possible, don't just present them with the outcome of the decision.
NAVIGATING THE SYSTEM
1. Do your best to stay close to home.
It is far easier to visit the individual and keep a watchful eye and ear and nose on the treatment the person is receiving when the nursing home is within suitable driving distance from home. Constant visits to your loved one will be red flags to all workers that she has an advocate for the quality of her life, and they will be more responsive to her needs.
2. Check out the Web for finding a nursing home.
There are many websites out there, but for this article, I have chosen two:
- Concerning Aging. Not only can you locate Nursing Homes within a particular county on this site, but you can see any complaints lodged against the Homes, and sign up via email to be notified of any updates concerning a particular home.
- Medicare. This site may be a bit more helpful to those members of your support team who are able to and willing to visit your loved one on a periodic basis because it allows you to select the distance between their city and the Nursing Home. Also, it has a rating for various services provided at each nursing home. (I do, though, need to caution you about taking these ratings at face value as some facilities may well know in advance when they are going to be inspected, and thus spruce up their facility for the inspection.)
3. Contact an elder service Provider.
- Get their feedback on the nursing homes you found, and listen to their advice for what still may be out there. Of the ones that I called, I was only personally allowed to spend time talking with one service: A Place for Mom. From this interview, I learned that though they have been able to find a place for a loved one within one day, on the average it takes 45 days of searching. Not only is this service free, but they also have a forum page where you can search out concerns you have, or even post a question to the community.
- The Web, though, has many other such services, so if you and the particular elder service provider are not ‘hitting it off’, just bow out and select someone else. Another reason that you may want to select another provider is that not every provider has ALL the nursing homes in their database.
4. Money isn’t everything, but it does help.
Nursing Home costs average near $200 per day. Check out this site so as to help keep your priorities in line on this matter.
5. Keep your eyes, noses, and ears open.