It’s one of the most difficult decisions that families must make: choosing when it’s the right time to transition a loved one to nursing home care. Because this decision can be so emotional, it’s important to include your loved one in the decision-making process, if possible, and act as their advocate throughout this new phase of their life.
Clear Expectations for Care
When you have chosen a nursing home, ensure that the organization is clear with you about the costs and terms of your arrangement. These contracts can be very complicated, so ensure that you understand what is expected from you financially and the type of care your loved one can expect in return. It should be clear whether or not your deposit is refundable and what your monthly fee will (and won’t) cover. Clear communication between you and the staff should be established early. Try to have a single point of contact you can turn to with reasonable requests.
Ongoing Care Assessments
Nursing homes are required to put together a care plan for each resident – quarterly for long-term term residents. Be sure to attend these meetings and express any issues you have or any changes you’d like to see implemented. When you visit your loved one, pay attention to the level of care they receive and verify that they are being treated as per your original care plan. If something seems out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to ask questions or press for answers. While you must be realistic about the type of care a nursing home can provide, the level of care should always meet or exceed the expectations set forth in your initial agreement.
Support and Guidance
Taking up the role of your loved one’s caregiving advocate can be stressful. Remember that you aren’t alone in this process. Seek out support groups in your community or online such as the Alzheimer’s Association or Children of Aging Parents. You may also find guidance from social workers, geriatric care managers, or counselors who specialize in these types of transitions. Sometimes simply talking to others who are facing the same tough decisions we are, and managing the same challenges, can help.