When our mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 68, we didn’t know what to do. Coming from a culture which strongly believes that the young should take care of the aged, it was hard for us to face the fact that we had to place her in a nursing home. Having somebody come in to take care of her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has become a big financial burden. Add to that the emotional burden of seeing her deteriorate each day. Luckily, we found a home for the elderly run by a religious order, with professionally trained nursing nuns to take care of her. Our guilt was appeased when we saw how her physical health improved in an environment where she gets professional medical care as well as the social interaction with people of her age. Visits on weekends became a fun affair for everybody. Her dementia did not improve but we were glad to see her happy and comfortable during the last few years of her life.
Choosing the right nursing home is the key to our loved one’s quality of life and to our peace of mind. It is also a big responsibility.
As HealthCare 411 at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) rightly said
It is for this reason that AHRQ developed a special tool as part of their Navigation Healthcare Program. The online tool called Nursing Home Compare is aimed to help find the nursing home that suits your loved ones needs by giving detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the US. The homes are rated on a 5-star quality system based on health inspections, staffing levels, and quality evaluations, among others.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends taking the following steps when using the tool:
- Step 1: Find Nursing Homes in your area. Search by name, city, county, state, or ZIP code.
- Step 2: Compare the quality of the nursing Homes you’re considering using the Five-Star Quality Ratings, health inspection results, nursing home staff data, quality measures, and fire safety inspection results.
- Step 3: Visit the nursing homes you’re considering or have someone visit for you. Use the Nursing Home Checklist and other resources under “ Additional information ” below.
- Step 4: Choose the nursing home that best meets your needs. Talk to your doctor or other healthcare practitioner, your family, friends, or others about your nursing home choices. Contact the Long-Term Ombudsman or State Survey Agency before you make a decision.
There are also alternatives to nursing homes, including community-based services, home care, or assisted living and information on these are also available in the AHRQ site.
Photo credit: stock.xchng