Making the decision to move an older loved one to a nursing home is rarely a decision that is easily made. Failing to do so, however, could put a loved one at risk for serious injury or victimization by those who prey on vulnerable seniors. Once the decision has been made, the next step is to find the best nursing home for your loved one. To help you make the right choice, the Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft offer the following tips to help you find the right nursing home for your loved one.
- Get input from your loved one when possible. Sit down with your loved one and ask what he/she wants in a facility. Never assume you know what is important to your loved one. Is privacy more important than social programs? Would a community garden or a pool be better? Does the menu play an important role or are the aesthetics more important?
- Discuss your loved one’s health care needs with professionals. Schedule appointments with your loved one’s doctors and ask what is needed in terms of the level of care and any special medical needs your loved one may have. Add to that your own knowledge regarding medical needs if you have been providing care.
- Make a list of priorities. Create a list of priorities so you know exactly what you are looking for in a nursing home and what the most important factors are when deciding. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, dementia care will be at the top of the list. Geographic proximity to your home, the cost of care, and staff to patient ratio are additional examples of things you might include on your list. Also make note of any “deal breakers” for you or your loved one.
- Seek referrals. As the population of seniors continues to grow in the U.S., more and more people have a loved one in long-term care. Ask friends, family members, and co-workers if they have experience – good or bad — with a nursing home in the area.
- Research potential facilities. Stick to reliable sites such as Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare” website, the Department of Health and Human Services “eldercare locator” website and the Indiana State Department of Health’s searchable database. You can also check to see if a facility has complaints filed against it on the ISDH website.
- Contact facilities. Contact the facilities on your short list and ask pertinent questions about things such as the staff to resident ratio, what social programs are available for residents, whether they have menu options, and what the complaint process is at the facility. If you have specific needs or wishes, find out if the facility can meet those needs or fulfill those wishes. Schedule official tours of your top five or six options. While touring each facility, try and talk to residents that are there. Pay attention to the things that matter most to you and your loved one and ask as many questions as possible.
- Make an unannounced visit – and keep doing so after picking a nursing home. An official, scheduled tour is certainly necessary; you should also make a point of showing up when you are not expected so you get to see the facility when a prospective future resident isn’t expected. Once you have chosen a nursing home for your loved one, continue to remain vigilant about the care he/she is receiving. If you suspect that something is wrong, it may very well be. Visit frequently and unexpectedly and always follow up on anything that causes you to suspect elder abuse or neglect.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law issues, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.