Choosing a nursing home for an elderly loved one is one of the most difficult and important decisions a family member can make. In a perfect world, all elder care facilities would be state of the art, affordable, clean, well-staffed, and free of negligence. Unfortunately, some nursing homes offer subpar amenities and have untrustworthy staff who may steal, or even physically abuse patients.
If your mother, father, spouse, grandparent, or other relative suffers a degenerative brain disease or other illness and requires long-term care in a nursing home, don’t pick the first place you come across. Instead, ask these six questions before finding an elder care facility for your loved one:
1. What are the total costs?
Be prepared — nursing homes can be expensive and average around $8,500 a month in Florida. Depending on your financial situation you may be able to pay for your loved one’s care out of pocket. Alternatively, you may want to purchase long-term care insurance. Medicaid, the federal health insurance for low income families, can pay for nursing home care, but only by meeting stringent income and asset limitation requirements. To determine your eligibility for Medicaid in Florida, consult with an experienced elder law attorney as soon as possible.
2. What is the level of care?
Depending on your family member’s condition, he or she may need varying levels of care. For example, a patient suffering from dementia will require different care and comfort than someone suffering from a physical disability. Based on the severity of your loved one’s condition, they may need an assisted living facility, residential care facility, continuing care facility, or nursing home. Identifying your family members’ daily level of care is vital to ensuring you find the right facility for their needs.
3. Are there social events?
Since nursing homes are mini-communities, it is important that they have ample social and recreational events for patients. For many disabled and elderly patients, depression is a major problem. Look for a nursing home that offers fun and exciting events where your family member can make new friends, play games, and interact with others on a regular basis.
4. Does it feel like home?
A nursing home needs to feel more like a home and less like a hospital. Does it smell? Are the walls cold and sterile? Is the lighting blue and depressing? How is the food? Are the rooms and beds comfortable? Are pets welcome? The more a facility feels like home, the more likely that patients will adapt and flourish.
5. What is the reputation?
While a nursing home may have a beautiful manicured lawn and a big flashy sign indicating top level senior care, it’s the reputation that counts. With the Internet, you can find out a nursing home’s reputation in a few clicks. However, to get the real scoop on what is going on, talk to residents and staff and reach out to friends and/or family who may have experience with the facility.
6. Is it available?
You found the perfect place for mom. It’s affordable, reputable, homey, and offers outstanding care. Unfortunately, there may not be any beds available. If you anticipate that you or your loved one will ultimately need nursing home care somewhere down the line, you may want to start looking now and even place your name on a waiting list.
Searching for the right nursing home can be overwhelming. At The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, our attorneys have been helping Florida families with elder care matters for nearly 20 years. Contact us today for more information about choosing the right home for your loved one.