Essential Questions to Ask When Considering A Nursing Home

When it comes to senior care, there are plenty of considerations that go into choosing a location for your loved one. It's a matter of finding the right balance of quality care and affordable living, all while taking into account the emotional sides of the decision.

This is especially true when helping a relative move into a nursing home. Will they have specific needs for living conditions? Is there anything additional they may want other than the standard services? And most important of all, do they need assistance making the transition?

Knowing where to start can be a little daunting, so we want to do our part to make the process as seamless as possible for you and your loved one. If you're looking into nursing homes, we're here to help make sure you're familiar with all of the costs and considerations that play into finding the right fit.

Getting the Details in Order

Since making the transition to nursing home care comes with its fair share of emotional and logistical challenges, it's important to take them on with as much preparation as possible. No one should have to face decisions like this without the right information in hand. Starting off with a strong foundation of knowledge will save you a lot of time and stress down the road.

So, where do you start?

Understanding the Circumstances

The best first step you can take is doing a personal inventory of your circumstances. Note any responsibilities you're already taking care of and build a comprehensive understanding of your relative's medical history, financial situation, and level of independence. Addressing these topics will help you determine the needs of your relative, such as whether they will need any financial assistance while making the transition and what medical services they will need at their new home.

Finding Out What Matters Most

The next step is figuring out which aspects of nursing home care will carry the most weight when it comes to deciding on a location. The core elements of nursing home care — such as on-site medical professionals, daily care, and emergency services — don't vary much from home to home, but the environments and amenities are often unique to each location. Things like shared rooms, social opportunities, and on-site activities are just a few key details to keep in mind — especially since your loved one is taking part in the decision.

You'll also want to address location before starting your research. While having a relative or friend close by is usually something people prefer, different locations and different states have their own policies and features. Depending on the circumstances you're in, a longer-distance option might be something worth considering.

Working Through the Financial Considerations

One of the most pressing challenges faced in this transition is determining financial stability. Often, this can be a tough conversation for family members to have with their older relatives.

Whatever the case may be, it's incredibly important to discuss this topic before progressing too far into the nursing home search. Having an idea of the financial situation can go a long way in saving you time and giving specific nursing homes useful information when you choose to visit.

The main question at hand is how you and your loved one plan to cover the expenses of nursing home care. Traditionally speaking, there are two options for coverage: private pay and Medicaid.

Medicaid is the option of choice for many Americans. Available only for homes with Medicaid beds, the program offers financial assistance to people who qualify for the program's aid. Qualification under Medicaid is a process that takes into account an individual's current financial assets and the use of assets and transfers over the course of the past five years. Although the basics of qualification stay the same from state to state, the details often change.

If Medicaid is something you plan to pursue — or even if it's something you have an interest in learning more about on behalf of your loved one — contact your local Medicaid office. Medicaid is often a solution for people who have used insurance and private pay and have gone through the majority of their assets. Once this happens, Medicaid covers the majority of standard nursing home services. Private pay still covers additional amenities and services.

Medicaid.gov also offers a comprehensive outline of what Medicaid can cover as far as nursing home care. As mentioned previously, the details can change from state to state. Still, knowing what possibilities are available will help when planning out the financial considerations of senor care.

For specifics on what plays into long-term care and nursing home financial assistance, check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' guide to applying for Medicaid.

Connecting with Nursing Homes

Once you have an idea of how the financial side of things will play out, it's time to start researching homes and contacting specific locations. It's worth noting that some homes, such as our own, will actually offer to walk you through the process of determining financial stability and health screening. Not every home offers this cooperative type of admission, but it can go a long way in easing stressors in an already challenging transition.

That being said, doing as much preparation as possible before starting your research and visits will be a huge benefit — even in terms of simply knowing where you've stored important documents and health information.

Finding a Nursing Home

No one needs to fly blindly throughout this process. In this day and age, information regarding local and national nursing home services is easily accessible. For instance, Medicaid.gov has an online portal that allows you to compare the ratings and certifications for approved nursing homes. Along with that, talking to primary care physicians is another great way to receive nursing home recommendations.

Visiting the Homes

After all preparation is said and done, the decision comes down to actually visiting and connecting with specific homes. What matters from this point on all depends on personal preference. Here are some things to keep in mind while at each home:

  • Do residents seem to be happy with the homes?
  • Are there enough staff members to take care of the residents?
  • Are there emergency services nearby if needed?
  • Is the home in presentable shape?
  • Are you treated with respect and consideration throughout your visit?
  • Is the staff helpful in walking you through the details of admission and service?

Putting It All Together

Preparing to help move your loved one into nursing home care can see daunting, but you don't have to go through these challenges all on your own. With enough preparation and some helping hands along the way, moving into this next stage of life can be a benefit to you and your relative.

If you have any specific questions or would like to learn more about our nursing home services, feel free to contact us today!