As men and women enter their golden years, many decide they can no longer maintain their homes and choose to downgrade to something smaller, be it an apartment or a condominium. For millions of others, health plays a significant role when deciding where to move when it’s time to sell their homes.
According to the AARP, slightly more than five percent of people 65 years and older reside in nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and board-and-care homes. Statistics Canada notes that by 2004-05, the most recent year for which statistics are available, one in 30 Canadians over the age of 65 were living in homes for the aged. Though no one plans to live in a nursing home, seniors and their families should at least know what to look for just in case.
Determine Individual Needs
Men and women researching potential living facilities might find it difficult to determine their specific needs. Unforeseen health conditions, for instance, might dictate which option is the best fit. Men and women who have a medical condition that requires routine monitoring will almost certainly want a skilled nursing facility. But those without medical conditions who need help with simpler tasks of everyday life are likely to have those needs met by an intermediate facility. Some facilities provide both types of care, which can make transitioning from one to another much easier if or when that need arises. Facilities typically have intake planners on staff who evaluate each individual and determine which level of care is the best fit.
Research Policies and Procedures
Each facility should be ready and willing to share and discuss its policies and procedures with regards to residents. What is the procedure when a resident has a medical emergency? What if a resident finds a living situation unpleasant? What is the facility’s philosophy regarding staff and resident interaction? What are the facility’s hiring practices, including certification requirements, for its personnel? What is the ratio of staff to residents? Each facility should be able to answer these questions promptly and adequately. Those who can’t should be checked off the list of residences to consider.
According to the AARP, recent research has shown that nonprofit nursing homes offer higher-quality care, better staff-resident ratios, and have fewer health violations than facilities managed by for-profit companies. Men and women researching facilities can visit Caring.com, an online resource for men and women caring for aging relatives. The Web site enables adults to compare nursing homes in their areas, including if a home is for profit or nonprofit, and the home’s capacity. U.S. residents can even learn each facility’s Medicare ratings, which are determined by examining the safety of the facility and its overall quality of care and a host of other factors.
Get a Firsthand Account of the Facility
Before choosing a facility for themselves or an elderly relative, individuals should spend some time at the facilities they’re considering to get a firsthand account of what life at that facility is like. Observe the staff interactions with residents, including if they address residents with respect and patience. How do the current residents look? Are they unkempt and left to their own devices, or do they appear well groomed and are they encouraged to interact with other residents? Does the facility seem warm and welcoming, or is it antiseptic? The move to an elderly care facility is often difficult and sometimes depressing, so each of the above conditions can carry significant weight when choosing a facility.
Finding a nursing home or a similar facility for yourself or an aging relative is not necessarily easy. Men and women facing such a difficult decision should begin the process as early as possible to ensure they find the facility that is the best fit.