Transitioning Your Loved One to Full-Time Nursing Care
It’s an unfortunate reality that we all must face at some point: the time has come when you can no longer safely care for your senior parent at home. Realizing the need to place your loved one in a nursing home facility can be upsetting for you. Nursing homes get a lot of bad press for abuse and neglect. However, this does not have to be the fate of your loved one. Transitioning your loved one into full-time nursing care is sometimes the necessary step in the evolution of their care.
Your parents helped guide you through some of the most difficult times of your life, they were your rock, but now it’s your time to be theirs. However difficult this choice is, the safety of your senior parent should always be a top priority.
When is it time to put my loved one in long-term care?
Many organizations advocate for the 70-40 rule. When your parent is 70 or older, and you are 40 or older, it is time to start to discuss aging and the future.
In many cases, our aging loved ones don’t want to be seen as a burden.But the truth is as you age you will require a little more help. Whether be assistance getting to and from doctor’s appointments or help with cooking. If you decided to let your parents move in with you, then there were likely warning signs that they could no longer live on their own.
Similarly, the signs that caring for your aging loved one has become too much for you to handle will become apparent. You might notice that your loved one isn’t leaving the house as frequently as they used to. In other cases, they may require more of your attention to prevent them from wandering. Generally, if you’re having to balance your schedule to help your loved one complete everyday tasks such as managing medications, doing laundry, shopping or getting dressed, it may be time to talk to them about moving into a senior living center.
How should I bring up assisted living?
It may seem like an impossible task but open and honest communication is an important part of the process because the last thing you want is for your loved one to feel like they are being forced into an uncomfortable situation.
Know what your options are. Nursing homes aren’t the only choice for seniors. Alternate housing options can include:
- Assisted living facilities
- Family group homes
- Independent senior living communities
- Skilled nursing facilities
- In-home care
- Intentional communities
- Continuing care retirement communities
The housing option you choose may depend entirely on the level of care you feel your loved one needs.
Slowly start bringing up the topic of assisted living when they have a “close call”. For instance, if your loved one experienced a fall and wasn’t seriously injured use it as an introduction to the subject matter, once they have healed.
Keep the discussion ongoing. Sitting your aging parents down to talk one time can feel like the kids are ganging up on them. Instead, keeping the conversation ongoing can leave room for all opinions, wants, needs and desires to be heard and accounted for.
Be careful how you talk about housing options. Choosing to use words like “community”, “activities” and “social opportunities” will make moving into an assisted living facility a positive experience. Often, nursing homes or assisted living facilities are viewed as a place people go to die. However, with proper research and a caring family, these facilities can extend the lives of loved ones.
Choosing the right facility
Every nursing home promises to treat your loved one with the highest quality of care. Yet horror stories surface from facilities describing tales of neglect, sexual assault, and secret drugging—to name a few.
The search for the right facility can be overwhelming. Protecting your loved one starts with knowing what red flags to look for. It’s best to begin your search for a nursing home immediately in order to narrow down your list and find the perfect place for your loved one.
Try to stay local
The best way to protect your loved one from nursing home abuse and neglect is to keep them in a home near you. Visiting your loved one is crucial to ensuring they receive proper care because visiting your loved one holds staff accountable. If the staff knows that your loved one has consistent visitors, they will make sure to meet your loved one’s needs. This also does some good for other residents in the homes who may not have visitors. In addition to a regular visitation schedule, one of the best ways to keep staff accountable is to drop in unexpectedly.
You can start your research on nursing homes from the comfort of your home. State and federal agencies keep records of ratings and inspection reports. One of the best places to start is medicare.gov. Simply input your zip code for nursing home results. The site used a 5-star rating system and tracks:
- Overall ratings
- Health inspections
- Quality measures
Do not judge a nursing home based on privately-run businesses. The federal government or non-profits can assure a little more transparency in what might be wrong with the facility you’re looking at.
Another tip is to look for news articles about the facility you are looking into. When egregious events unfold in a facility, the press will usually get a hold of it.
Schedule in-person tours
In the information age, it’s easy to make decisions based upon what we see online. However, choosing a nursing home isn’t the same as reading reviews on Amazon. Viewing the facility in person and scheduling a tour will give you access to how the facility actually runs. Don’t be fooled by fancy decorations or heftier price tags. The cost of a nursing home doesn’t determine if the care is going to be better or worse.
Pay attention to how the staff interacts with one another
How the staff interacts with each other can be telling of how they will treat your family member. If the staff is continuously speeding through simple tasks so they have more time to chat, that could be a sign of poor quality resident life. If they’re speeding through tasks to hang out with each other they aren’t giving your loved one the care and interaction you were promised.
Observe how the staff interacts with the residents
If some residents have unexplainable bedsores that could be a sign of lack of care. Another thing to observe is if the residents seem secluded in their room watching TV and not out in the courtyard or interacting with each other.
Observe resident grooming
Something else that could raise another red flag is the odor of other residents. If they are emitting unsettling odors, they more than likely aren’t receiving the personal care they deserve. Look at hair, clothing, teeth and fingernails of other residents. These could all be signs of understaffing and neglect.
Talk to current residents
Don’t be afraid to talk to current residents about the care they receive. Ask how long it normally takes for someone to respond to a request.
If a facility regulates their visitation hours there could be foul play going on during the hours you aren’t allowed to visit. Aim for facilities that will let you drop by whenever. If you want to stop by to visit your loved one try coming in unannounced to see if the staff really does provide the quality of care you pay for. In the state of Texas, nursing homes can not legally limit visitation hours so any facility that restricts these rights could be hiding something more serious.
What to expect after you choosing a facility
Once you’ve managed to find a facility that will tend to your senior parents’ needs and makes you feel secure about their safety, it’s important to be sure your loved one is getting the care you were promised.
The first day
The first day of any move can be exhausting, both mentally and physically. However, the move into a nursing home tends to be more emotionally draining than physical. It’s important to remember that your loved one is facing a difficult time as well. While their comments may seem to be rather negative the first day, this is only temporary. You should remember to be there for them on this difficult day.
The first week
The first week in a nursing home can be the hardest. Your loved one may speak about wanting to go home, so it’s important to make sure that you’re there to offer them the emotional support they need during this hard time. Offer to take them for coffee or spend more time with them.
During this first week you may be overwhelmed, so be sure to write down any questions you have during this time. Questions can be answered during care meetings that you and your loved one will attend to help you both get a better understanding of the services your loved one will receive during their stay.
The first month
The first month may go by fairly quickly but by this time you and your loved one will have settled into a routine. While you may still have doubts whether or not you are made the right decision, it’s important to remember that you provided your loved one with the best option for their specific situation. After the first month, take a moment to reflect on the past month. How did you feel about your visits? You should start to include other family members and friends into the mix at this point to ensure your loved one has a steady flow of phone calls and visitors.
If at any point, you feel that something seems off about their care, or lack of, investigate to see what problems could be lurking beneath the surface. More often, if your gut is trying to tell you something, then chances are something is going on.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
When nursing homes fail to implement proper precautions to address resident needs, family members should take action. Our team of nursing home neglect attorneys has handled many cases where residents have suffered serious injuries as a result of under-staffing in long-term care facilities. When staff cannot properly monitor residents, injuries are more likely to occur.
If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse you should take action quickly and contact us online or call us at 800-359-5690 to set up a free consultation.
We are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Written by Kazia Conway