Once you and your parents have decided that an elder care facility is the right choice, the next step is choosing the best care possible. This can be quite a challenge, especially considering the variety of elder care facilities out there, from private care, to a fully-staffed nursing home. The task of deciding between the many different options can be overwhelming. As you approach the decision-making process, remember that it’s always better to allow your parents to assist with the decision. This will help to ensure an easy transition for your parents.
Determine Care Needs
The first step is to decide upon the type of home placement your parent needs. Begin by discussing different options with your parents, while maintaining a positive attitude. Your parent should always have some input and a degree of control regarding what they want in their own living arrangements. Working together to make the decision can help to remove some of the resistance your parent may be feeling.
Draw up a list of hygiene assistance, medical problems and daily living tasks that your parent may require help with; whether they need complete help or even just some minimal assistance. This will help to provide guidance regarding the level of assisted living your parent requires. It’s also a good idea to obtain advice from your parent’s doctor if you’re uncertain regarding the type of living arrangements that will best meet the needs of your parent.
Most retirement homes, assisted living facilities and retirement communities offer various levels of amenities and care. Some communities offer very little in regards to medical services, but instead focus on recreational opportunities and social activities. Other options may be modest but still provide a nursing staff, quality patient care and supervision.
Tour Each Facility
In deciding which facility will be best, make a point to tour each available option. This will help to provide you with firsthand information. Medical care should always be a top-priority along with lifestyle. There are also questions that should be asked before you decide upon any facility. The questions below can help to guide you in obtaining the information you need to make an educated decision regarding the best care for your parent.
- Observe other residents in the facility. Do they appear relaxed and calm? What is the general impression?
- Do residents appear clean?
- What stimulation is provided to residents beyond watching TV? Does the facility offer planned recreation and activities?
- Are residents allowed to make their own choices regarding their daily routine if they’re mentally capable of doing so?
- Are residents able to continue seeing their own personal doctors?
- Does the facility meet your parent’s religious and cultural needs?
- Can your parent bring their own furniture and personal items?
- How do staff members at the facility respond to residents?
- Does the staff behave in a professional manner? Are they helpful, compassionate and friendly?
- Is there a nurse on call at the facility?
- Are medical professionals on staff?
- What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
- Is the facility fully staffed on weekends and at nights?
- Does the staff regularly communicate with family members?
- Are all staff certified and licensed?
- Are background checks conducted on all staff and employees?
- Does the facility provide an abuse prevention training program for staff?
- Is the facility Medicare certified?
- What is the appearance of the facility, inside and out? Does it appear cheerful and well-maintained? Is there a smell?
- Is housekeeping provided?
- What type of security does the facility provide?
- Is it possible for anyone to leave or enter the facility as they please? Are there rules for residents leaving the facility?
- What is the waiting period for admission?
- How many beds are available?
- Has the facility had any lawsuits or complaints filed against it?
- How does the facility monitor for possible abuse?
- What are the visiting hours for the facility?
- Are exits marked clearly?
- Are accidents and spills cleaned up quickly?
- Are hallways and other areas well lit?
- Are sprinklers and smoke detectors installed throughout the facility?
Dining & Common Areas
- Are the common areas comfortable and pleasant?
- Is there an outdoor recreation area?
- Is the dining area clean?
- Are residents at the facility able to have some choice in their meals?
- Is help provided if residents are not able to eat on their own?
- What types of special dietary needs are offered?
- Is food served at the correct temperatures?
For many seniors the aging process means slowing down while others are able to maintain an enjoyable and active lifestyle. Selecting the right assisted living facility for your parent means developing an understanding of the level of care they need today, the types of activities they enjoy and recognizing that they may need advanced care in the future.
Asking the right questions and working with your parent can help you to locate the best solution possible for your parent’s care. An appropriate care facility need not be a luxury facility, but it should certainly meet some basic and specific requirements, including medical, safety, recreational and social. By taking the time to investigate different options and educate yourself about the level of care provided you can choose the highest quality of living possible for your parent while also ensuring peace of mind for your parent as well as the entire family.
What are the common health care types for seniors?
Skilled Care vs. Custodial Care
Skilled care describes medical services, such as physical therapy, catheter care, and administering medications via IV, that can be provided only by skilled or licensed medical personnel. Custodial care (also called non-skilled care) helps with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and eating, and sometimes with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), like light housecleaning, laundry, and preparing meals. Custodial care is typical for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as for frail, elderly adults. Both skilled and custodial care can be provided at home, in adult day care, or in a residential care setting, such as a nursing home, an assisted living community, or an adult foster care home.
Assisted Living vs. Memory Care
Both assisted living and memory care are residences that offer 24-hr supervision and personal care assistance, as well as meals, social activities, and other amenities. However, memory care is intended only for persons with dementia, usually related to Alzheimer’s Disease, but also dementia from Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and most other forms of dementia. Typically, the staff-to-resident ratio in memory care is lower, allowing residents a higher level of care. In addition, the staff is specifically trained to handle the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical needs and issues associated with dementia.
Home Care vs. Home Health Care
Home care generally means custodial or unskilled care is being provided. For example, assistance is provided with bathing and dressing the individual, doing the laundry, cooking, and accompanying the care recipient to doctors’ appointments or on other errands. One may also hear this type of care referred to as personal care or attendant care, although those terms are not exclusively for care provided in the home.
Home health care refers to a higher level of care, which requires medical training. This includes procedures such as checking the individual’s vitals and respiration, and assisting with braces, artificial limbs, and other medical equipment, such as ventilators. To be clear, it is not unusual for home health care providers to also provide custodial care during their home visits.
What are different types of elder care communities?
Independent Living (IL or ILF)
IL is a senior living option that is designed to enable independent seniors to enjoy an active lifestyle in a community of their peers. IL typically involves apartment style housing for an age restricted community of residents. Independent living communities also are sometimes made up of freestanding homes or condominiums. In some instances, the IL facility provides optional private duty services. In most cases, the facility develops a relationship with a private duty company that provides services to the residents as needed.
Assisted Living (AL or ALF)
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) defines Assisted Living as a senior living option that combines apartment style housing, organized social interaction, and private duty support services as needed. Health care services are often provided by outside providers who either rent an office in the building or visit the building periodically. Assisted living is designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management, or physical assistance with bathing, dressing, and transportation.
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
A SNF is defined as an institution or part of an institution that meets criteria for accreditation established by the sections of the Social Security Act that determine the basis for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for skilled nursing care. Skilled nursing care includes rehabilitation and various medical and nursing procedures.
Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
These campuses gather all levels of care onto one property. Generally the nurses and therapists of the SNF unit provide care as necessary to the AL and IL residents. However, the first priority of the health care staff on the campus is to care for the SNF residents. Often external providers of health care and private duty services are brought in to deliver care to the residents of the IL and AL portions of the property.
What are the cognitive changes among aging people?
In general, the symptoms of cognitive decline that are associated with aging include:
- 1. Slower inductive reasoning / slower problem solving
- 2. Diminished spatial orientation
- 3. Declines in perceptual speed
- 4. Decreased numeric ability
- 5. Losses in verbal memory
- 6. Few changes in verbal ability
What are the common causes of cognitive problems among seniors?
- 1. Medication side-effects
- 2. “Metabolic imbalances.”
- 3. Problems with hormones
- 4. Deficiencies in vitamins and other key nutrients
- 5. Delirium
- 6. Psychiatric illness
- 7. Substance abuse and/or substance withdrawal
- 8. Damage to brain neurons, due to an injury
- 9. Damage to brain neurons, due to a neurodegenerative condition
- 10. Infections
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