Woman Walking Around a Nursing Home With an AidOnce you have decided that you or your loved one needs the resources offered by a skilled nursing facility, you then have to find the right place. The quality of care provided by a nursing home varies greatly from one to the next, so it is important to do your research to find the best fit for you. The Elder Law Attorneys at Ross & Shoalmire, PLLC, help our clients with all aspects of aging, including finding the right nursing home when it’s time. We offer these helpful tips and encourage you to begin researching your options as soon as possible.

When a Nursing Home Is the Right Choice

As you get older and are less able to care for yourself, you have several options for getting the support you need. You may be able to stay in your own home—often referred to as aging in place—if you have an accessible home and family nearby. Another option is to hire a home healthcare worker to come in as often as needed to cook, administer medications, do housework, monitor your condition, and provide personal care. An able-bodied spouse may be able to provide the care you need in your own home as well. If these options are not realistic for you, a skilled nursing facility might be the only choice. For people suffering from dementia or who are physically disabled, nursing homes can provide good care and relieve family members of a difficult burden.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home

Once you are committed to moving to a nursing home, you will have to find one that meets all of your needs. No two nursing homes are alike, so it is important that you take the time to gather information and make the best choice for you. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) offers tips for finding a nursing home and recommends taking the following steps:

  • List your priorities. Does your loved one have dementia or a specific physical need? Does she have a strong religious affiliation or particular dietary concerns? Will she soon need hospice care? Are you looking to stay in a certain community or region? The answers to these questions will lead to different care facilities, so it’s important to get your priorities and preferences figured out ahead of time.
  • Use your network. Ask friends, family members, doctors, social workers, and your lawyer for recommendations. Talking to someone with a personal connection to a place will give you more useful information than a brochure or even a visit.
  • Start by calling for details. Some facilities will have informative websites, but in most cases, you should take the time to call each facility on your list to ask about their services, cost, and availability. Many of the best nursing homes have long waitlists, so it doesn’t hurt to start calling early to get on some lists well before you need a placement.
  • Schedule a visit. You do not want to choose a facility without visiting it several times. Make an appointment for a tour and bring along the Medicare Nursing Home Checklist to help you ask all the right questions. Bring a friend or family member to provide their perspective and trust your instincts. If a home doesn’t feel right to you, it probably won’t be a good fit.
  • Carefully read the contract. When you have found a nursing home you like, be sure to read the contract before signing. Ask a friend or family member—and your Elder Law attorney—to read it as well. You don’t want to unknowingly agree to unreasonable terms.

No one hopes to live in a nursing home one day, but if it becomes necessary, you want to make the best possible decision to protect your well-being. Taking the time to thoroughly research your options is a necessary step towards finding the right home.

Ben King
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Ben King helps clients in TX and AR with estate planning, asset protection, probate, and medicaid planning.