Monday, June 24, 2013

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home

It’s not easy deciding which nursing home (or assisted-care facility) would best suit an aging loved one. Unfortunately, often times the person in question is no help at all.   For those who find choosing a nursing home too daunting, there are professional services that can help, such as Aidin, Assisted Transition, SilverLiving, and HealthAdvocate.

Here are some things you should consider when taking on this daunting experience

Understand your needs
A basic understanding of what you need can drastically reduce the number of places to consider:  For example, does your loved one have memory loss? If so you’ll want to decrease your choices to only those with memory-loss units and programs. Do they like to socialize and take part in activities? If they like such things, you’ll want to find a place with appropriate programs.

Talk with your community
Ask around for referrals.  Ask the staff at your loved one’s doctor’s office or social workers at your local hospital or home-care agency where they would choose for their parents. Ask friends, co-workers, people at church or other organization you belong to. Attend a local caregiver support group and ask the family members to recommend a place.

Check with the regulators
Inquire about the agency that oversees eldercare in your state.

Ask about costs
Will your state’s public programs cover the bill – does your loved one qualify? Find out what’s included in your monthly fee: they can add up quickly, especially if services are a la carte. For example, make sure the basic fee covers essentials like three meals a day.

Ask probing questions
A few productive questions to ask about the key medical and safety issues that nursing homes are responsible for. These may be depressing to think about, but your elderly loved one has fragile health already, and needs to be in a protected and sanitary environment:
·         How does the facility rank for their patients’ falling rate?
·         Where do they rank with nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections?
·         What does the institution do to prevent the spread of staph infections?
·         What’s their policy toward preventing patient-to-patient infections?
·         What’s their record of maintaining patients’ ideal weight?

What about when staffing’s tight?
How does the facility handle staffing shortages? Some facilities will use an agency which is not the best way to handle a shortage because the agency staff will be unfamiliar with resident needs. Some facilities will have administrative staff (those who are nurses) take a shift. Be sure to understand how shortages are handled – they will occur.

Do your homework before the legwork
Narrow the number of facilities to see down to 3-5 facilities after considering your needs, as well as costs, ratings and referrals. If you hear a facility is great from more than one person, put it at the top of your list.

Make a surprise visit
Visit the facility unannounced: Are they receptive to unannounced visits? If they welcome you, ask for a tour, take notes, and meet the staff. Keep visiting once you’ve made your choice. Drop-in visits at varying times of day and night, and active questions about care plans, let the staff know that you care.”

There’s no point in feeling overwhelmed: you only have to take this one step at a time. And now you know some of the important steps.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Moving to a Nursing Home

The conversation between adult children and their aging parents about the possibility of moving into an assisted-living facility or nursing home can be tough and change family dynamics, but it needs to happen.

Children can generally see clear warning signs when it is time for their parent to enter an assisted living home or a nursing home.  The sad reality is that it often takes an adverse event to make the elderly parent realize that such a placement is needed.

The earlier you can react to warnings signs the easier the transition can be on parents, so it’s important to know what signs to look out for and address.

According to health experts, signs include forgetfulness when it comes to basic daily events like leaving the stove on, a lack of appetite or ability to eat, inability to food shop and constantly forgetting to take medication.

When a parent is unable to care for himself/herself and needs help with everyday things like bathing, dressing and making meals, it may be time to consider a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  Other reasons for considering professional help for parent include if he/she has memory problems, has physical limitations and is prone to falls, and/or has side effects from multiple medications.

If warning signs are present, the next step is to figure the level of care options and approach your parents and family members about moving into a facility.

Costs will be a major factor as will insurance coverage and how much the family has to cover the expenses.  It’s important that family members agree before making the decision.  If there are some disagreements, a geriatric case manager can help with the situation.

When it comes to starting the conversation with parents, be as direct as possible. The main reason people resist the idea of a nursing home or assisted living is over fear of losing their independence. Some parents are also in denial about needing care and help, which can also make the conversation tough.  You should provide parents evidence of why they need help: Point out aimless wondering, forgetting to turn off the stove and the dangers that came with these actions.

It’s also important to make it clear to parents they are not a burden and that you are not trying to pass off their care and simply want them to have the best options and lifestyle. Children should put forth a well-discussed and thorough plan to their parents that covers financials.
If possible, ask parents what they want from a facility, including location and amenities, to get them involved in the decision. Same goes with at-home care. If they can, have them discuss who they would want to be the caregiver whether it’s a relative, friend or professional.
If possible, it’s a good idea to take the parent to visit possible places to talk to the staff and residents.

If they say no at first, continue the conversation in a kind way.  After an adverse event occurs, they will either be willing or be forced into such a situation.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Create a Home Inventory

Would you be able to remember all the possessions you have accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire or other disaster?

Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.

Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.

     Don't be put off!  
If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you have been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases, then try to remember what you can about older possessions.

     Big ticket items  
Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately and it is important that your insurance company know about these items before there is a loss.
·         Take a picture 
You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.

     Videotape it  
Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or do the same thing using a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etch with when and where it was purchased.

     Create a digital record  
Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings.

Storing your list 
Regardless of how you do it (written list, photos, computer hard drive, flash-drive, or in the cloud), keep a record of your inventory. If it is a physical document, store it along with the receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. If it is a digital file, make sure to back it up and keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account. That way it will be easily available to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.