Smooth Transitions: How To Prepare For Your Elderly Parent To Move To A Nursing Home

May 9, 2024 | Elder Law

Realizing that it’s time for your elderly parent(s) to live in a nursing home is one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging decisions a person can face. For your whole life, they have loved, cared for, and looked after you, but now they can’t do so for themselves.

You may be grappling with your guilt over not being able to provide the level of care they need, or be suffering under the overwhelming sense that you’re abandoning them. Nursing homes can also place a substantial amount of financial stress on a family, so you might be wondering how you will be able to afford the cost of long-term care while still managing your own obligations.

Whatever you’re feeling, just know that we understand, and we’re here for you.

It’s important to remember that you likely did not come to this decision lightly, but it’s ultimately the best decision for your parent’s health, safety, and well-being. However, we know how much planning and consideration something like this requires. Hopefully, we can give you just a little peace of mind by helping you prepare for this major change.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can navigate this process and not only ensure that you’re taking the necessary steps to find the right facility for your loved one, but prepare for this significant transition, too.

1. Research And Planning

Finding a facility that is the right fit for your family will require a considerable amount of research. You’ll want to consider factors like location, quality of care, facilities, staff-to-resident ratio, and cost. It is recommended that you stay as close to your parent’s home, if you can, so that they might get more visitors, but widen your search if you must.

You’ll also need to take into account your parent’s needs and wants; for example, do they need assistance with everyday activities? If so, to what degree? Will they need physical therapy, nursing care, hospice care, or memory care (such as in cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia)?

It may also be beneficial to talk to friends, family members, or others in your area, but remember that everyone’s opinion is subjective – not everyone will have the same experience. This is not a decision that should be made in a rush, so it’s critical that you take your time researching. Then, you can make a list of potential facilities to visit based on what you learn about each one.

2. Visit Each Facility

Schedule visits with the nursing home facilities on your list. There are a lot of things you’ll want to pay attention to, ask about, and take note of, so it may be helpful to go in with a prepared sheet of notes – whether that be on a physical sheet of paper or types out on your phone.

The first and most important factor will obviously be the cleanliness, safety, and overall atmosphere of each facility. For example:

  • Well-maintained floors
  • Dust-free surfaces
  • Neatly made beds
  • Clutter in the common areas, hallways, and resident rooms
  • Unusual odors
  • Bathroom and kitchen hygiene
  • Laundry and linen cleanliness
  • Infection control measures, like hand sanitizing stations
  • Staff appearance and hygiene
  • Resident care and personal hygiene
  • Insect and pest control measures
  • And more.

Next, speak to staff members and ask questions about their experience, qualifications, and approach to care. You have a right to know how qualified the facility is to care for your loved one, so if staff members seem hesitant or bothered by answering questions like these, it is likely not a facility you want them to be in.

Finally, ask about the activities and other services offered within the facility. How do the residents stay intellectually and physically active? How are they able to engage with one another? It is common for most nursing homes to offer exercise classes, arts and crafts, educational events, games, puzzles, religious activities, and more.

3. Assess Financial Considerations

Most private insurance companies do not cover nursing home expenses, so there are likely only 3 ways to cover the cost: out of your pocket, out of your parent’s pocket, or through Medicaid. However, long-term care costs can quickly eat away at your loved one’s life savings – money and assets they intended to pass on to their heirs once they pass.

It’s a good idea to meet with an attorney who can help you utilize legal tools to shield their estate from these costs, especially if their need for care was sudden and unexpected. A skilled nursing home crisis planning attorney can help preserve their assets to supplemental care and provide for their spouse, if applicable.

An attorney can also assist if your loved one’s Medicaid application was denied. They can review your case, file an appeal on your behalf, and advocate for your approval.

4. Review And Update Legal Documents

This step will look different for each family, as it is dependent on your loved one’s individual circumstances and preferences. Be sure to consult with a skilled estate planning lawyer to learn more about what might be needed for your specific situation. However, some steps that are commonly taken are:

  • Create advance directives – This may include a living will, which outlines their preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care, and/or healthcare power of attorney (HCPA), which appoints a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so.
  • Establish power of attorney – This tool designates someone to manage their financial and legal affairs if they are or become unable to do so themselves; the appointed person may pay bills, manage investments, handle property transactions, and more.
  • Establish a guardianship or conservatorship – This may be necessary if your parent is incapacitated and unable to make decisions or manage their affairs
  • Create an estate plan (or review and update the existing one) – An effective estate plan should include both a will and trust, as well as the documents listed above. Ensure that each component reflects your parent’s current wishes and intentions.
  • Review and update beneficiary designations – Ensure that named beneficiaries still reflect your parent’s current wishes and intentions.

Trust The Ladd Firm To Support Your Family In Your Time Of Need

No matter where you currently stand in the overwhelming process of moving your elderly parent to a nursing home, our compassionate attorneys are here to lend our guidance and knowledge. We’ve been serving Alabama families for nearly 30 years, so you can feel confident moving forward with us on your side. Call today to request a free phone consultation and learn more about how we can meet your needs.

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