Selecting the Right Care Facility for Your Aging Parents

As many of us age, we find some roles in life become reversed. Your children no longer need your help, and instead you find you need to care for your own aging parents.  Depending on your financial and physical capacity, you may not be able to care for parents 24/7 though. At this point you should begin to consider the option of a care facility that will work best to meet your parent’s needs. This can be a difficult decision and wears on all members of the family. If you are in this situation and not sure where to start, use this guide to find out what might work best for your parents.
Selecting the Right Care Facility for Your Aging Parents

Independent Living vs Assisted Living

The first matter to determine is if your parent should live in an independent living or assisted living facility. Independent living is for folks over the age of 55 who are able to take care of all their needs independently, meaning that they are able to cook, clean, and generally take care of themselves. This type of arrangement means they have an independent living home, but won’t have to worry about extra home maintenance. Often these places have great amenities like golf courses, home gardeners, and elder are able to live in a community of people in a similar situation to their own.

An assisted living community is for elderly people who are able to do some things independently, but may need the assistance for other things like doing laundry, cooking meals, or remembering to take medications. In an assisted living facility, the staff is on hand to help at any time with any needs of the community members. At some assisted living centers, the help from the staff is optional so residents will not have barriers to independent living.

How the Staff Acts

One of your first concerns when selecting a care facility should be how your parent will be cared for at the location. Unfortunately, abuse in these types of care units is not uncommon, and you should do all you can to make sure your parent is not put at risk. Ask management and employees if they have abuse prevention training and make sure there are background checks run on the staff routinely. Check to be sure all medical personal are certified with a master in nursing or similar degree as well.

Take into consideration the overall demeanor of the staff there. Do they seem tired and reluctant to work with the residents? Do they speak to the residents in a demeaning or condescending manner? Or are they eager to help those in their need? Do they treat everyone with respect and show care and quality service?

The Ambiance

You should always visit a facility before deciding it will be the right choice for your parent(s). Take them with you to get a feel for the environment and the staff. Listen to your gut reaction and look for evidence of what could make you feel negative or positive about the experience.

Positive features might include the smell of fresh food or meals being served, active sounds of residence gathering together, and friendly staff working and welcoming management.

Negative features could be things like musty smells, often of urine or body odors, poorly cared for facilities with stained carpets or flooring, or annoyed or overworked staff and attendants.

Costs

Not all care facilities are created equal, and this will show in the final cost. As much as you will want to be able to give your parent the best home available, this is not always going to be within your price range.

Most independent and assisted living facilities are not covered by Medicare and will have to be privately funded. It is important that you discuss with your parents what their payment options are, and what they will feel comfortable spending. However, if your parent is in poor health, certain nursing homes are covered by Medicare.

Making the choice with your parent about whether they should move to a retirement home or an assisted care center is a big decision you should make together. Consider all of their needs and what different locations can provide. Always remember to visit facilities before making signing anything permanent. When you communicate together and keep a conversation about what will work, you can find what you’re looking for that will allow your parent to continue to live a happy and healthy life.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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