Elderly Parents Housing - What to Look for in Long Term Care Options

Elderly Parents Housing - What to Look For in Long Term Care Options

It's not easy to make a decision to move an elderly parent out of his or her home, or out of yours, into a long-term care facility, but being informed and knowing the difference between options can help to relieve some of the stress in such situations.

For example, there are many different types of long-term care options for individuals, including three of the most common:

  • Nursing Home
  • Assisted Living
  • Independent Living

Evaluating Facility Basics: What to Look For

When many individuals think "long term care", or elderly care home they automatically envision a dreary, drab, linoleum-floored 'home for the aged', where old folks sit around staring at the walls or mindlessly watching television. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

Today, most long-term care facilities are technologically advanced, modern and bright. Finding the right location for your elderly parent requires a careful assessment of his or her needs, abilities and health. Each of the options listed above is designed for those with varying levels of capability and physical health.

Regardless of the type of facility you're looking for, make sure it's certified, licensed and accredited. Those living in rural areas may be limited in choices, but that doesn't mean you have to accept substandard quality or care.

Also, don't be afraid to listen to your gut instincts. Often, your first impression is the correct one – if something sends red flags off, determine what it was, and then ask questions – lots of questions. Safety, quality of care and a caring staff are the most important things to finding the right location for your elderly parents.

Independent Living Facilities

This type of facility is primarily designed for elderly individuals who can still get around, cook, clean and pretty much take care of themselves. This type of facility alleviates the necessity of yard work or taking care of a large home, or a multi-level home where it may be difficult for individuals to navigate stairs. Independent living facilities may be apartments or individual cottages.

When checking an independent living facility, look for these things:

  • Make sure there are no stairs that your parent has to climb
  • Are outside pathways and inside hallways easy to navigate with a wheelchair, walker or cane?
  • Is the facility well lit and secure?
  • Are 24-hour emergency services available?

Assisted Living Facilities

Known by many other names, including residential care homes or personal care homes, an assisted living facility is one designed to offer some care services for its residents. Such care homes do not include medical services or extreme help in performing daily living activities such as cooking, eating, cleaning and bathing. Many elderly residents in this type of facility need the aid of a walker, cane or wheelchair to get around, but they manage quite nicely without much help.

Long Term Care Facilities for Elderly - Kitchen

Basically, assisted living offers various services to help parents get through his or her day. This is an ideal situation for those who are still mobile, but who may need a little extra help now and then.

When looking into an assisted living facility, ask:

  • Do health care professionals monitor the facility?
  • Are aides trained and certified?
  • Will your elderly parent have a private room, or will he or she be required to share space?
  • Is 24-hour help available?
  • Are at least two meals supplied each day?
  • Ask about transportation, housekeeping, laundry and dressing services.

Nursing Home or Senior Home Care Facilities

The traditional-style "nursing home" or senior home care has undergone radical changes and improvements over the last few decades. Today, such facilities are called "long term care" facilities and provide round the clock medical and health care support for a large range of individual needs.

Long Term Care Facilities for Elderly

A long term care facility is designed for elderly parents who can no longer live on their own. Medical or physical problems require monitoring and the individual may need supervised help dressing, moving about or with other daily activities.

Here are some things to look for in a nursing care or senior home care type facility:

  • Are the floors and walls clean?
  • Do staff members interact with residents?
  • Are residents left to sit in hallways or empty rooms?
  • Observe staff members – do they appear stressed, happy, or calm?
  • Watch to see how long it takes staff members to respond to call lights.
  • What types of activities are residents engaged in? Are they meaningful or is it just 'busy-work'?
  • Look at the residents. Are they groomed? Are their clothes clean?
  • Look at the menus, and if you can purchase a meal, do so and taste the quality of the food.

Quality Assurance

Before deciding on any location for your elderly parents, check with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs to see if complaints have been lodged against the facility. Check information about nursing homes on such websites as Medicare's Nursing Home Overview or visit Compare Nursing Homes at Compare Nursing Homes 

Better yet, ask around your community or neighborhood – word of mouth could be worth its weight in gold.

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