Finding Nursing Home Placement for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s

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by Ray Burow |

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In the early days of diagnosis and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a caregiver is capable of sufficiently providing for their loved one.

The person within their care is often able to continue as they always have. They keep up with regular hygiene, can dispense their own medications, bathe and feed themselves, and may even still drive. However, as time and the disease progress, the responsibility of the caregiver increases.

Perhaps the caregiver works a full- or part-time job. Each morning, they might walk out the door with fear and trembling, worrying throughout the day about the spouse or parent they were forced to leave home alone.

The dilemma of what to do next

Eventually, the caregiver will have to make a decision about outside help.

If you’re in this situation, maybe it’s not your job that has you contemplating seeking assistance. Perhaps you find it impossible to continue providing care because you’re physically unable to do so. It’s also possible that the disease has caused your loved one to become combative, and they are a danger to you, themselves, and other family members. We make the difficult decision to employ a nursing facility for multiple reasons.

It may be a last-straw scenario that drives you, but you have legitimate reasons to find placement for your loved one. Still, making the decision is grueling. You may be overwhelmed with guilt, but in your heart of hearts you know that all other options have been sought, tried, and eliminated. The time has come.

So, what’s the next step in finding a new and safe setting where your loved one will have the appropriate care?

Uncharted territory

Carers often don’t know what to do next. A nursing facility can quickly deplete your loved one’s savings. It’s wise to speak with an elder law attorney before making a placement decision.

An attorney will advise you about Medicaid. Your loved one has access to Institutional Medicaid in the United States, which means that regardless of where you live, Medicaid can provide coverage for nursing home services, including general health and room and board.

The resident must meet certain criteria, however, including adherence to income and asset requirements. This is why it’s crucial to speak with an elder law attorney prior to making a placement decision.

Practical steps

Researching nursing facilities in your area begins with a list. Take a pen and paper, open a search engine on your computer (or use the old-fashioned Yellow Pages), and jot down facilities that are within a reasonable distance. You’ll need one that is close by.

One option might be a facility near your work, so you can drop by for lunch or on the way home. Good care is top-of-thought, but convenience is also important.

Once you’ve created a good list, start calling around. Speak with someone in admissions and ask questions about the nursing facility. Have in mind and in hand the information you gathered from an elder law attorney. This will prepare you with the right questions.

In fact, before you begin calling admissions offices, jot down the questions you need to ask. One of those questions will address Medicaid. If an admissions agent balks at your questions, strike the facility from your list. You have the right and responsibility to gather all the information you can.

Don’t count on remembering the differences and requirements for each facility. Take notes so that you may compare later. How the facilities compare to one another and to the needs of your loved one will pare down the choices.

Visit the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints that may have been leveled against the facility you’re strongly considering. Access a search engine, such as Google or Bing, and research reviews. What are people saying about their experiences with the facility?

Reading the reviews on the facility’s website can be helpful, but outside reviews may be more accurate. The facility can pick and choose which reviews to present to the public.

Make an appointment to visit the facilities that remain at the top of your list. Take a friend with you. Two heads and multiple eyes are better for gathering information.

Additionally, the trip you’re embarking on is an emotional one. A trusted and perceptive friend will help to keep you grounded, and will also help you to remember why the placement decision is necessary. You’ll have the tendency to lead with your heart.

Your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is a wonderful resource and always a great first step when you need help with anything related to dementia. Call the 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.

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Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

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