One of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make is that of moving an elderly loved one to a nursing home. Yet there are times when the severity of a senior's health problems are best met in a nursing facility.
Most seniors are apprehensive about making this move. Stories of neglect and elder abuse at nursing homes can add to their fear. The high costs associated with a nursing home can further add to the stress.
There are things that you can do to ease the transition.
- If your senior's health allows it, involve them in as much of the process as possible. This may mean visiting prospective nursing homes with them, or simply discussing the details of your own visits. If your senior is unable to accompany you on the visit to the nursing home facility, photographs may help them participate in the decision.
- Make a list of requirements that you want the home to meet. If your senior has specific health needs make sure that the nursing home you select can meet those needs. Don't assume that all homes are equally capable of handling all medical conditions. An excellent tool for comparing nursing homes is at Medicare.
- Ease financial worries up front. Research the senior's financial situation. Find out what types of insurance your senior has and whether their insurance will pay any of the nursing home cost. If Medicaid will be required to finance the move to a nursing facility, apply early.
- If possible, make certain that your senior has completed estate planning and life care planning. Your senior should have a living will in place that details what steps should be taken if they face a severe health crisis. A power of attorney may be necessary if you will be responsible for their financial affairs.
- Determine whether the nursing home will allow your loved one to keep their family doctor, or if they must be transitioned to the facility's attending physician. Sometimes knowing that they can keep the same doctor that they've gone to all these years can add a measure comfort to the transition.
- Determine what your senior will bring with them to the nursing home. Contact the nursing home to find out if there are any restrictions. Keep in mind that most rooms in nursing homes are fairly small and that your loved one may share the room with a roommate. Plan on bringing clothing and personal care items. Many nursing home facilities allow residents to bring their own television set, radio, and phone. Books and magazines may help pass the time. Each item needs to be permanently marked with your loved one's name.