Choosing the right nursing home is definitely not for the faint of heart. The weight of that responsibility is huge and sometimes even with your very best intentions the wrong place is chosen. I’ve learned a lot about the nursing home industry in the last few months and it scares me to death. I’ve learned that you can’t really trust anyone and that there are some unscrupulous people who are out there just to take advantage of people who can’t take care of themselves.
I do want to say that we have met some really wonderful people who truly want to be there for our oldest generations. To these people, I say, “thank you”. Trying to figure out the difference between the good and the bad is damn near impossible.
The first problem I see is financial. Look, I understand things like overhead costs, taxes, insurance etc but when I see a small bedroom in a nursing home goes for $6000-$8000 a month. It pisses me off. Talk about taking advantage of our seniors. That’s $200-$275 A DAY! I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous who can afford that other than the top 1%.
The alternative to that is substandard care that borders on abuse. These places are no more than meat houses. A place where they stack them up and ignore them until things get so bad that they can no longer be ignored. Unfortunately, my mom was in one of these places for a short few weeks, but it changed the way we look at people and the plight of the unprotected senior. It’s also something that I will never forgive myself for.
Sometimes the abuse is nothing more than neglect. Dirty clothes, things missing and unexplained(or in our situation blamed on other residents) injuries. These should be glaring warning signs that something isn’t right. When emergency situations happen it’s often the only place that has an open bed is your only choice as in our case. My mom went in and a stranger came out.
One who has been ignored, disregarded and abused. I thought I was doing the right thing when after a heart attack I realized that I could no longer take care of my mom full time. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still her caregiver, but it does mean that you have to depend on other people to give the care that you can longer give. The sad thing is that in most cases it simply doesn’t happen like that.
I have learned that if you’re not looking hard enough things can be hidden and that’s exactly what happened to us. I’d like to offer some advice when looking at nursing homes.
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you need one to look. You could be forced to take what you can get and that can be deadly for your loved one.
- Visit as many as you can. Distance shouldn’t be a deciding factor.
- Take notes.
- Ask lots of questions.
- Find out the caregiver to resident ratio. That’s very important and it shouldn’t be more than 6:1.
- Go back and visit often (before move-in day and definitely after) and show up at different times.
- Check online reviews.
- Ask friends & neighbors for references.
- See what activities are provided.
- Write their names on everything.
- Don’t keep valuables with your loved one. Try a safe-deposit box.
- Find out what happens if another resident gets violent or if abuse is suspected.
- If you visit or have experience with a bad nursing home leave a review it may save the next person.
What other things would you add to this list?