By Toni Lynn Davis, MHA, CNHA, FACHCA
CEO and President Green Hill Inc.
Time after time I have family members call us at Green Hill to make immediate or emergency arrangements to place an elder in our long-term care residence. Almost always they are unprepared for the complex steps involved in selecting a residence that they will be happy with and their loved one comfortable in. They are rarely prepared for the paperwork and financial information required for placement.
We should all prepare for the need to choose a nursing home for our elders long before the need is necessary. A few tips to follow to get you started are:
1- Research what to look for in a nursing home or long-term care residence. The two part series by Jane Brody from the New York Times is a great overview of what to consider when choosing a nursing home. Ms. Brody’s articles are well researched and well thought out, full of experiences of others just like us.
2- Have an understanding of the prospective medical, emotional, and environmental needs of your elder. Ask them long before the need arises what they would want if faced with the need to be in a nursing or long-term care facility.
3- If you are going to be the primary advocate and/or caregiver find facilities that are closest to your home or work.
4- Read the reviews of the facilities you have identified. Visit the facilities on your list and be prepared with your list of questions.
5- Go back to the facilities that seem to meet your elder’s needs, unannounced to have a look at varying times of day. Talk with residents and staff in the community.
6-Know your elder’s finances and evaluate if their assets will be enough to pay for long-term care for the prospective length of their life. If your elder can not afford the high cost of care from a private source of funding, prepare to spend down their finances so Medicaid may provide all of much of the fees. Speak with a long-term care financial advisor.
7- Remember that you are not alone in this journey. An estimated 12 million people need long-term care in the US. There are a number of support groups and organizations to help you navigate this process.
a. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
b. Speak with a care manager.
c. Visit A Place For Mom