Helping Your Loved One in a Nursing Home

Posted on June 10, 2024 by shieldsandboris

Are your elderly parent or other vulnerable loved one in a nursing home? You are certainly not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are an average of 1.6 million people in nursing homes nationwide at any given time. For families, knowing how to support a family member who is in an assisted living facility is essential. At The Elder Law Offices of Shields & Boris, we are an elder law and estate planning firm committed to providing personalized guidance and support to people and families. Here, our Pennsylvania elder law attorney highlights tips that you can use to help your loved one who is in a nursing home.

Tip #1: Ensure that Your Loved One is in a Safe, Reliable Facility

When you check your elderly mother, elderly father, or other vulnerable loved one into an assisted living facility, you expect that they will receive high-quality care. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Indeed, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that as many as one in 10 elderly Americans are subject to abuse and/or neglect each year. With so much at stake, it is crucial that you and your family pick a reliable facility.

Selecting the right nursing home is absolutely crucial for your loved one’s health and well-being. To start, you should confirm that the facility is licensed and that it has a good track record. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers inspection reports and quality ratings for nursing homes. Do not hesitate to do your own research. You may want to visit the facility unannounced at different times of the day to get a real sense of how residents are treated.

Tip #2: Organize Medical Records and Understand Your Loved One’s Unique Needs

Not every nursing home resident has the same needs. In some cases, a senior citizen may need intensive daily care. In other cases, an older resident may need less comprehensive ongoing support. It is crucial that both you—and the facility—have a full understanding of your vulnerable loved one’s physical and mental condition.

You should maintain an organized file of your loved one’s medical history, their medications, any allergies, and their doctors. Understanding their health needs and treatment history allows for better coordination with nursing home staff and healthcare providers. Be sure to regularly update these records and make sure that any changes in health are documented and communicated.

Tip #3: Communicate With Family and Friends—Develop a Support Network

Proactive, transparent, and open communication across your entire network of family and friends can make a big difference. Staying connected is essential not only for your loved one but also for you. Regular updates can help ease the worry that often comes with having a family member in a nursing home. Set up a communication chain among family and friends to share updates, coordinate visits, and discuss any concerns. The network can provide emotional support and reduce isolation. By getting everyone on the same page, you will be in the best position to provide support to your vulnerable family member.

Tip #4: Keep Your Vulnerable Loved One Involved

Isolation is a serious mental health risk for nursing home residents. It is one of the most underappreciated and unaddressed problems. Keeping your vulnerable family member as involved as possible can make a huge difference in his or her mental well-being. Indeed, engagement in daily activities can significantly enhance the quality of life for your loved one in a nursing home.

You should encourage them to participate in the facility’s events and activities that align with their interests. Discuss with the staff about ways to keep your family members involved, whether through social events, light physical activities, or hobbies. Keeping the mind and body active is crucial for mental health and can help ward off feelings of isolation and depression.

Tip #5: Put a Comprehensive Plan in Place for Handling the Finances

Nursing home care is extraordinarily expensive. The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) reports that the median average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in the Commonwealth is nearly $115,000. There are resources available that can help to cover the costs, potentially including Medicaid. A proactive approach is key. For families who are working to support a loved one in a nursing home, a comprehensive financial plan is key.

Managing finances for a loved one in a nursing home can be complex. By establishing a clear financial plan that covers the costs of nursing home care, medical expenses, and personal needs. Your family should consider consulting with a Pennsylvania elder law attorney who can help you put the best structure in place to do what is best for your specific situation.

Tip #6: Follow Up on Any Suspected Problems Right Away

The reality is that even if you do everything right, issues can arise. Given the challenges, vigilance is key to ensuring the safety and well-being of your loved one. If you suspect any issues—from concerns about care to suspicions of mistreatment to administrative errors to financial issues—it is imperative that you immediately address them with the staff and/or management. Document your concerns and the responses you receive. If problems persist, escalate them to authorities, such as the Pennsylvania State Ombudsman for long-term care. Ultimately, prompt action can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems. The health and well-being of your vulnerable loved one is the top priority.

Contact Our Pennsylvania Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys Today

At The Elder Law Offices of Shields & Boris, our Pennsylvania elder lawyer provides solutions-focused advocacy to clients. We are a caring, compassionate firm that emphasizes personalized guidance and support. If you have any questions about helping your loved one who is in a nursing home, please give us a call at (724) 302-3806 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation. We provide elder law and estate planning services throughout the Pittsburgh area.

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