When choosing a nursing home, it pays to do your homework

Posted on behalf of The Bell Law Firm, PLLC on Mar 14, 2012 in Nursing Home Information

As more baby boomers enter their golden years, more sons and daughters will inevitably be forced to make decisions related to long-term care. Oftentimes family members don't want to think about their parents and loved ones getting older. There is a tendency to put off discussing topics related to the failing health of a parent or grandparent until a fall or accident suddenly results in the need for an urgent decision.

Families in West Virginia that are trying to choose a nursing home for a loved one need to do their homework. Consult Medicare's official nursing home ratings to not only see how individual nursing homes are rated, via a star system, but also delve deeper into health inspection records and any issued citations. Having this type of information can greatly help when determining if the facility truly provides a clean and safe living environment.

Perhaps the most important thing to do when deciding on a nursing home is to visit the facility. You will never get an accurate picture of a facility by viewing the glossy brochure that tries to depict it as being similar to a spa. It's critical to visit the nursing home, more than once if possible, and to visit unannounced and during off-peak hours.

Things to make note of during a visit include how residents appear. Are they tucked away in their rooms, strapped in wheelchairs in the hallways or socially gathered in common rooms? Also how does the staff interact with residents? Do they seem to know individual residents? Are they friendly and approachable, or do they avoid eye contact and just go about their duties. These are all important factors that will help a loved one feel comfortable and at-home.

Some other considerations center on the financial aspects of choosing a nursing home. With the average nursing home costing in excess of $70,000 per year, long-term care is expensive and it's important to have a solid plan for how the costs will be covered.

Government programs like Medicare only cover a portion of the cost so it pays to investigate how additional income options like long-term insurance may pay out. Also, make sure to ask if the facility accepts Medicaid payments as a resident becomes eligible once their assets fall below a certain amount.

Source: CNN, "Find the right nursing home," Amanda Gengler, Mar. 14, 2012

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