What I Would Tell Baby Boomers About Nursing Homes

My fellow baby boomers need to find out who pays for long-term care. Most hospitals discharge patients quickly, and those who cannot go home, go to nursing homes to recuperate. Know what your insurance will cover. Get information on Medicare payment, and how to qualify for Medicaid. Though rehab is usually short-term, adjustment is required. The facility is your home while you recover. Depending on the circumstances, a rehabilitation stay can turn into long-term care.

Whether the stay is short or long, learn how nursing homes are run. Read as much as you can about long-term care issues. If you have had no long-term care experience yourself, talk with friends and neighbors who have. Nursing homes are rated based on the yearly survey done by the state’s Department of Health and ratings are available on the Internet. There are web sites about nursing home living and some have comments from family members of residents. Your state ombudsman’s web site and office will also give you information about residents’ rights.

Get familiar with the long-term care facilities in your area. Visit them without notice and look around. Select occupied rooms to see the available space. Ask to see the communal shower rooms. Talk with people in your community about their experiences with particular facilities. Make an appointment later with the administrator and any other available staff. Ask why they are in the healthcare field, but be aware that they will be marketing the facility.

Find out if your doctor will be able to care for you at a facility. If he cannot, ask if you can choose a physician. In some nursing homes the medical director will be your physician. You can check out physicians online at your state medical board’s Web site.

Nursing home life is definitely a culture change. Though nursing homes are trying to improve their environment and services, they are still structured and institutional. Meals and activities are scheduled Therapy will schedule with your preferred daily routine in mind. But since therapists work limited hours, you will have to conform. .

Meet as many staff as possible. If you have questions, ask them and make sure you get answers. Ask what activities are offered and request a monthly activities calendar. Ask who your ‘go to’ person is if you have a difficulty. Nursing homes have a ‘chain of command’ and it is wise to follow it.

Even if you are on a special diet, you should have some food choices. Talk to the dietitian and dietary manager to make those choices known. Your dislikes are recorded, but you may have to reiterate them before they are removed from your diet. Remember there are many residents to please, and things can be overlooked. If you are unhappy with the food, register your complaints in a reasonable way.

Ask what things you cannot bring to the facility. Bring what makes you comfortable. Most residents bring photos, books, favorite furniture, radios, CD players, DVD players, and cell phones. Some bring bed clothes, towels, and sometimes their own coffee mug. Bring your favorite soap. But realize that liquid soap is more hygienic than bar soap. Put your name on all items with an indelible marker. If you need a lamp or special magnification device for reading, bring them along too. If you want to bring your computer, ask the facility what you need to get connected. Put your things away and keep track of them.

Whether the facility does your laundry or not, put your name in your clothing. Clothing can be lost much easier without identification. Use a laundry marker. If you purchase preprinted, iron-on, cloth name labels, sew them on or they will come off after repeated washings.

The facility will inventory all of your items and clothing. But ask your family to help you keep track. The facility may have a small clothes closet. Bring a dresser with you. Most residents here bring a chest of drawers for clothing. Wrinkled clothing can be a problem, so bring wrinkle spray with you. Clothing is not pressed at my facility. But I do have a fabric steamer an aide can use for special occasions.

Be a partner in your care. Care conferences are held every three months. Make sure you attend and have your POA or family member attend too. If a family member cannot attend, they can participate by conference call. Facilities have a preset schedule for conferences. If you do not receive notice soon enough, request an appointment for a care conference. It shows that you and your family are involved with your care.

It is important to get out of the facility. If allowed, go outside on your own. Everyone needs a change of scene. Go on outings with family or friends. This will broaden your horizons. Long-term care is isolating. You do not get to see the outside world’s hustle and bustle. Sign up to go on outings with activities. It can be a lot of fun.

Remember to take care of your soul. Activities will have times designated for church services. But if you are not a churchgoer or do not choose to worship in a communal setting, make time for it on your own. If a Bible is important to you, bring one with you. Bring items that are helpful in your spiritual life. If you take time every day to meditate, make sure facility staff are aware of it. They will ask you several questions about your culture and your spiritual beliefs. Give them as much input as possible. .

See that your room or half of the room reflects your personality. Bring photos and put them on a bulletin board to hang or put them in frames. Photos hung on walls willy-nilly look messy and make work for the staff. If you have a private room and have visitors, close your door. Try not to inflict your visitors on others. Some residents may not be able to move away from your noise. If you are in a semi private room and are able, take your visitors to a common area for your visit. Perhaps your facility will provide rooms for family visits. Be a good neighbor and respect other residents.

Nursing homes are not like home. But you can do things to feel at home. Get up every day as if you have a job to do. Fill your days with things that are important to you and do not just watch television. Get involved with activities. Talk with other residents and ask staff what you can do to help out in your new community. Get involved with Resident Council. If you are doing something for others, it will take your mind off whatever is hurting you. Living in a long-term care facility is just like real life: You get out of it what you put into it.

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