The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Sometimes, though, the complexities of illness and age require a level of care that the average person cannot provide on his or her own. According to AARP, two-thirds of Americans over age 65 will need nursing home care at some point during their lives.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is always a possibility. Therefore, it is important for families to do their due diligence and thoroughly investigate a number of facilities before settling on a place for their loved one to reside.
AARP recommends that families keep the following tips in mind:
Ask around: References and word-of-mouth are the best ways to find quality nursing homes. If you don't know anybody who has used a nursing home lately, you can talk to hospital staff or Medicare caseworkers. It is always better to use facilities that are certified by Medicare, since these nursing homes are inspected on a regular basis.
Look into staffing levels: Usually, neglect injuries like bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition or elopement don't happen because caregivers want to hurt a patient. In most cases, inadequate staffing leaves caregivers harried and overworked to the point that they fail to notice obvious red flags. Federal regulations require each patient to have at least 2.8 hours with a nursing aide and 1.3 hours with an RN or LPN each day.
Pay a visit: Don't just go on the official tour. Use the bathrooms and common rooms to see if they are clean and hospitable. Try to observe whether patients are happy and well-cared for, and try to talk to a few of them if you can. You may even want to stay for a meal to see if your loved one's nutritional needs will be well met.
Ask questions: If your loved one has any special needs or desires, make sure you ask about them. You want to make sure the nursing home is set up to accommodate any contingencies that might arise.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Tips to Pick the Best Nursing Home For a Loved One," Linda A. Johnson, May 23, 2012.
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