If you’re an adult child of an elderly parent, you may already know that choosing a proper nursing home can be stressful. Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, nurse and author of the blog AgingParents.com, shares some tips on how to ensure your parent will always remain safe and healthy:
– Get to know the difference between “convalescent hospitals,” “care homes,” “retirement homes,” and other nursing home monikers. Often the main difference is how long an elderly parent is expected to stay. Also investigate the history of each facility: is it a small home, or part of a huge chain? Inquire as to whether the facility is an actual nursing home, or Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE). Be sure to get as much background information as you can.
– Pick a care facility that’s close enough to visit often. Daily visits are best. “Residents who have frequent visitors generally do much better than the ones who have no one to visit them,” Rosenblatt notes.
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inquire especially about bruises, bandages and incidences of falls on your loved one’s chart. Usually an increase in falls is a clear warning that something may be wrong.
– Keep an eye on your parent’s tailbone. This is an especially susceptible spot for bedsores. Be sure to check that your parent’s skin isn’t reddened or bruised, and that it stays intact upon touch. Be extra vigilant if your parent uses a wheelchair.
– Remember that not all nursing homes are created, or managed, equally. A recent survey of nursing home citations found that 96 percent had been cited for Medicare and Medicaid rules of operation violations.
As you decide on a proper nursing home, keep in mind that you, as a family member, are often your parent’s last line of defense. Ongoing vigilance is needed to ensure that your parent lives out his or her remaining years in dignity, and with a real sense of safety. Consider your hard work and watchfulness a timeless gift to your parent.