Skilled Nursing Facilities - The Basics
A skilled nursing facility is a location for 24-hour medical care and supervision. Nursing facilities offer a variety of benefits to seniors, including daily activities to religious services, help with daily living activities such as dressing, bathing, and personal hygiene and group games and outdoor excursions and field trips.
Today's skilled facilities also provide excellent nursing and physician care for those diagnosed with medical conditions including diabetes, dementia, and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Today's nursing facilities are a far cry from the nursing homes of generations past, where seniors sat in a chair staring out a window all day with no interaction from others. Today's skilled nursing facilities offer and encourage interaction between fellow residents, staff, and the community.
A skilled nursing facility is often recommended for post-surgical patients, regardless of age. Physical therapy and other rehab services are available at many nursing facilities. Individuals on Medicare or Medicaid are able to access 24-hour care that they are not able to receive at home, especially when spouses or other family members are not physically or emotionally prepared or capable of taking care of the disabled or sick relative.
Caregivers to the elderly, or to an aging parent or relative, are the ones most likely to decide when they are no longer able to provide quality care or supervision for a loved one. Many children of elderly parents and caregivers of the elderly feel an extreme burden of guilt when making this decision.
However, remember that the safety and well-being of the elderly individual is of utmost importance and should take precedence. Whenever possible, caregivers and family members should discuss the possibility of eventual admittance into a skilled nursing facility depending on age, physical condition, health, and long-term prognosis.
You might be surprised to realize that many seniors prefer to enter a nursing facility rather than placing the burden of their care on loved ones. Others may fight you tooth and nail. The decision is never easy, and often comes with extreme emotional upheaval, guilt, sadness and disappointment.
Discuss the possibilities of care in the future with your elderly loved one face-to-face, and with the support of other family members and the family physician whenever possible. Emphasize the importance of quality care as well as safety. Many middle-aged caregivers of elderly parents find it difficult to provide the physical strength required to base, dress or move an elderly individual, and are at a risk of injury themselves.
When you feel you are no longer capable of taking care of an aging parent, it's time to talk about other alternatives. After all, if you can't adequately take care of your elderly loved one in the home environment, you need to face reality in order to keep your loved ones as healthy and safe as possible.
When it comes time to make a decision to place an elderly loved one in a nursing facility, discuss current as well as prospective future needs of the individual. Talk to your doctor and to other family members about location and preferences.
Start looking into skilled facilities in your area and compare options. Visit the facilities with your elderly parent when possible, and ask questions of not only staff and administration, but residents as well. Watch for interactions between staff and residents and asked to see monthly menus, scheduled activities, outdoor excursions, and services provided by the nursing facilities such as laundry, barber or beauty shop accessibility, as well as religious services.
Your elderly loved one deserves the best, so give them the best you can. No one wants to accept that they can no longer physically, mentally or emotionally provide for an elderly parent or relative, but their safety, well-being, and quality of life should always come first. A move into a skilled nursing facility is not always the preferred option, but is often the only option that will offer your loved one the best in round-the-clock care.