3 Steps for Helping an Elderly Loved One Transition to a Nursing Home

It’s not an easy season of life. Seeing loved ones age is a painful privilege. It’s a privilege because they are among you for more years. However, it’s painful to see your beloved elders gradually becoming more dependent on others.

As parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles age, sometimes they cannot live independently any more. It could be because of a disability, medical condition, or simple old age. Even though their children love them unconditionally, it’s just not possible for them to be around all the time. Living in fear of what-ifs can be very dangerous. What if Mom slips in the shower? What if Dad forgets to take his medication?

When you reach this phase in life, it may be necessary to consider moving aging loved ones into a nursing home. Here are a few steps to help you — and them — make the transition.

1. Do Your Homework

After you have researched several nursing homes online, definitely go visit them. Like hotels, nursing homes often only show you only the best rooms or most upgraded options on their websites. Actually walking through the premises makes a huge difference. Take notes so you can remember the pros and cons of each place. It is best not to leave these details to memory.

Ask questions. You may get a feeling of how compassionate the nursing home is by the way administrators address your queries. If your biggest fear is that your family members may be neglected in such facilities, ask about staffing ratios. Try to narrow down options in an area that is reasonably equidistant to other family members so everyone can visit regularly. It is often through regular unannounced visits that you can tell whether something is off.

It is unfortunate, but even after thorough research and regular visits, instances of elder neglect can still take place. This is when you should document everything and contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. Take pictures and record evidence of neglect. The lawyer’s job is to either get you a settlement or take such facilities to court.

This way, not only are you ensuring your loved one is safe, but you’re also improving things for other residents. All facilities should know they will be held accountable for any abuse.

2. Have Honest Conversations

Once you have a few affordable, local facilities narrowed down, talk to your elderly loved one. Unless they have memory loss or other such ailments, get their buy-in as much as possible. If they feel they have made this decision with you, they are more likely to adjust faster. Help your beloved elder make practical, not emotional decisions.

If it’s a parent, honestly explain that you would love to care for them as they cared for you when you were young. But you have a job, family, work trips, and soccer practice to juggle as well.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is to have trained professionals be available for them around the clock.

Should your loved one feel this transition has been thrust upon them, they could resist, get upset, or go into depression. If they are not on board, try to figure out what is bothering them the most. They might not want to leave their home of 40 years. They may miss the house of worship they have been attending for decades. Encourage them to consider some pre-vetted nursing homes nearby so they won’t be too far from their neighborhood.

3. Crunch the Numbers

If your loved one is worried about how they can afford such care, discuss the options openly. Seniors who have led independent lives don’t want to feel like a burden on their children. Good nursing homes can be expensive, but you may not have to pay the sticker price out of pocket.

Find out whether candidate facilities accept Medicare, Medicaid, or other plans. Some places only have a certain number of rooms or beds for those who need financial assistance. There could also be a waiting list. Often eligibility depends on the assets of the person who is going to be living in the assisted facility. A parent or grandparent who owns property or a retirement account may have to “spend down” before they become eligible for assistance.

If an aging parent is emotional about selling their beloved home, consider renting it out to pay for the nursing home. This approach allows them to fund their care while knowing they still own their home.

Many facilities may offer discounted or payment plan options. Conference with other family members before making these decisions. This way, the payment portion is something you’re all aware of. The last thing an aging parent wants to see is their children feuding over the financing of their care.

Smoothing the Transition

After you’ve made an informed decision, plan the transition carefully. Talk about how to store, donate, or sell some of your loved one’s belongings. Some nursing homes may allow you to bring furniture, whereas others do not.

Encourage your loved one to consider this a promising new chapter that will keep them safer and healthier. If possible, prepare for the transition over a couple of weeks or months. Don’t make it a frantic move. Finally, promise to visit regularly — and keep your promise.

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