Do you have an aging relative who needs more help than you’re able to give? Are terms like “aged care homes” and “elderly care” featuring more and more prominently in your Google searches?
According to the CDC, nursing homes had 1.7 million licensed beds in 2016. At this point, there’s no denying that people have more options than ever for making sure that their relatives are well cared for.
However, finding an aged care home for your loved one isn’t like ordering a pizza or eating cake. Unlike those two foods, where you can pick random toppings and still have a pretty good meal, there are no guarantees the residential care home you choose will be suitable for your loved one.
Keep reading to find out what you should know as you look to find aged care accommodations for your loved one.
1. An Aged Care Home Might Be Premature
If your elderly relative is more or less fit, alert, and thriving at home, you might not have to jump straight into residential care. Some of the options available to elderly individuals can include:
- Aging in place home care with home nursing care
- Independent living
- Residential nursing homes
- Assisted living
Of course, there are also cost considerations. Depending on the needs of your loved one, a 24/7 home care aide or a live-in home health nurse could be just as or more expensive than simply paying for an aged care home. But before you get on the phone and start requesting brochures, it’s important to answer the question, “Is an aged care home really necessary at this point?”.
2. Administration Matters
When you’re meeting up with friends or organizing your workout schedule, being a little bit flaky or disorganized isn’t the end of the world. But when the health of your loved one is at issue, the administrative skills of the elderly care home matter quite a bit.
Are you moving heaven and earth to book appointments? Does it sound like the care home’s administrative center is built around word of mouth and what the receptionist is able to remember?
With your loved one, unreasonable communication delays can cost you and your family in a big way. You need to know that the care home will contact you in the event of an emergency. And there should be a convenient way for your loved one to book appointments and get in touch with people.
In short, the care homes that make it to your shortlist should have a robust residential care management system in place. You do not want to be finding out after the fact that your loved one has been struggling to get their appointments scheduled.
3. You Can Never Learn Too Much About the Day-To-Day Lifestyle
Nearly everyone has a terrible roommate or neighbor horror story to tell. Maybe your neighbor was always tossing garbage on your lawn or “forgetting” to tie up their dogs. Or perhaps you had a college roommate who never cleaned and always smoked indoors.
Relocating a loved one to an aged care home has a lot in common with moving into a college dorm or a new apartment building – you never know who you’re dealing with until you get there. But here’s the problem:
With elderly individuals, it’s not uncommon for people to be suffering from behavioral changes due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. If your relative ends up with a particularly aggressive or forgetful roommate, that could be a dangerous situation for all involved.
How does the aged care home deal with residents who need more care? What can be done if your loved one isn’t compatible with your roommate? These are issues you’ll want to sort out before your relative moves in.
4. Pay Attention to the Home’s Quality Standards
The sad reality is that there elderly care homes out there that will take your money and spend it all on marketing and executive salaries. But when it comes to feeding the residents and maintaining cleanliness standards, these same homes will be prepared to cut every corner and then some. As a result, you’ll want to spend a lot of time asking questions about how quality standards are applied in the care home.
Who creates and cooks the menu? What kind of a cleaning schedule does the home maintain? Does the health care aide seem knowledgeable and passionate about their work or does it feel like the home is hiring anyone with a pulse?
Don’t be fooled by the marketing. This is your chance to make sure that your loved one will be in good hands if you choose that particular home.
5. Location is Essential
The whole “Location, location, location!” mantra isn’t just a phrase that real estate agents use to sell properties. It’s also an important feature to look at when you’re assessing potential care homes.
Is this place fairly close to friends and family? Are there nearby local attractions that senior residents can visit on a regular or semi-regular basis?
If your elderly relative is capable of enjoying regular outings and social events, you want to make sure that the aged care home you choose is one that offers easy access to fun activities and field trips.
6. Check the Staff-to-Patient Ratio
A residential care home could hire the best medical and home care professionals in the world. But if there are 50 patients for each staff member, it’ll be hard for those care providers to give everyone the level of attention that they deserve.
If your loved one is at a stage where close supervision is necessary, the staff-to-patient ratio becomes even more important.
The ABCs of Aged Care Homes
When you’re ordering brochures and booking walkthroughs, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of aged care homes that you have to choose from. And because every tour guide will be on their best behavior, every place you visit will more than likely look amazing.
So how can you make sure that you’ve made the right choice? All you have to do is take your time. If you consider the needs of your relative, make careful evaluations, and know what to look for, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right residential care home for your family.
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