There’s no single catalyst for seniors or caregivers to seek out a full-time care facility for themselves or a loved one. However, people usually wait until someone is sick, hurt, has surgery, develops chronic care needs or disabilities that require ongoing nursing care.
Although it’s often seen as a negative when someone requires a little assistance to live, it doesn’t mean you have to give up who you are, especially these days. Today’s senior living communities cater to a broad range of life stages for retirees, from housekeeping and companionship to medical assistance for a disability or chronic condition depending on a person’s degree of needs for health care and resources.
Home care is a private assisted care service that remains a popular choice for the people who need health care outside of medical facility. Home caregivers work closely with patients and families to provide the ideal level of care for a person’s specific and unique needs. It offers flexible solutions, so everyone can enjoy the sense of independence and familiarity of their own home.
For healthy, active seniors who desire the convenience of community living while remaining close to friends and family, independent living communities are an ideal option. They generally feature apartments or condominiums for seniors who don’t require special care. Benefits can include transportation, meals, housekeeping and more, while providing a lifestyle filled with social activities among other seniors.
Assisted living facilities provide supportive housing and care to seniors who need some assistance with daily tasks, but who do not require the high level of care provided in a nursing home. It commonly includes assistance with bathing, eating and mobility, social and recreational activities, medication management and meal service. For those in need of skilled nursing care and 24-hour assistance, a nursing home will be best option.
Once you decide the option that’s best, the next step is to find a place that is a good fit. Here, James Ellor, professor in Baylor University’s School of Social Work and gerontology expert suggests six questions that will guide you to make a the decision that’s right for you and your family.
1. What is the turnover rate for the staff?
A facility with high turnover rates is more likely to have difficulty providing consistently good care, according to the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes, a coalition of 28 organizations representing groups ranging from nursing home providers to quality improvement experts to government agencies.
How long have most of the staffs worked there? Are there enough licensed staff members to provide supervision and assistance? Ask about the qualifications of the staff.
2. Does the patient’s doctor serve the facility?
Even if you have a personal doctor, ask about how often your physician is allowed or scheduled to visit, and inquire about the on-site doctor. It’s important to get preventive care, like a yearly flu shot, to help you stay healthy, and also to have special care of in case of emergencies. “When you’re under the care of your physician, you’re going to get better treatment,” Ellor says. “Also, you need to assess the reputation of the medical director.
3. What is the status of the facility’s recreation and social services?
The social activities are an important factor to keep residents engaged and entertained, which provides mental health benefits including delay of cognitive decline. Some places help visitors experience what the facility offers organizing events. Look for recreation and therapy equipment such as games, craft supplies and books. An ample amount of equipment and programming can prove a thriving rehabilitation and recreation program, Ellor says.
4. What is the reputation of the staff?
Do your homework by checking up on the facility’s record with your state’s long-term care ombudsman to ask about resident or family complaints. “It can often tell you whether a facility has had a number of problems,” Ellor says. “The state board of public health can tell you if the place has received any citations.”
5. Is the facility accredited?
Find out if a facility is accredited. It is not always a deal breaker, but accreditation shows that the facility complies with all of the safety and medical guidelines of The Joint Commission, formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCOAH), Ellor says. “This is strictly voluntary on the part of the facility, but it shows that they’ve taken extra steps,” adds he.
6. How is the environment?
Take a look at the faces and body language of the resident’s, as well as the general atmosphere of the place at your visit. How clean are the hallways? Are the residents dressed appropriately? Do residents and visitors seem to enjoy the meals?
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