Have you been the primary caregiver for your aging parent in your home? Have you noticed that the care you are providing for your loved one is not up to the skill level that your parent is beginning to need? Is it becoming painfully aware to you that you can no longer care for your aging parent safely in your own home? In addition, are you working full time?

As a Florida elder law attorney, my office has met with many clients over the years who are facing just what you are facing. We know and understand these challenges and, for most of our clients, the next option is to consider placing your loved one in a long-term care facility. We know your first question is: How do I choose the right one?

First, let’s start with the most important: Should your loved one need 24 hour care, are the nursing homes you are considering Medicare-certified? This is a definite requirement! This certification will not only help govern your expectations for care but also help you manage the financial aspect of the transition more comfortably.

There are other items that we recommend you consider so that you can make the best decision for you and your aging parent. We would like to explore and give you some tips on a few items that you may not have thought about here on our blog.

1. Yes, location is important. Where is the facility located? Is it in the community where your loved one has always lived? Do you, family members and friends live nearby? Being sure the loved one is not alone is a large part of a smooth transition. In fact, finding a facility that can accommodate continuing personal and community relationships is always a good benefit.

2. You must be sure that you understand the fees and costs that are included. Now that you know the home is Medicare certified, request information about included services, charges, and fees in writing. If the nursing home is Medicare and/or Medicaid certified then the nursing home must tell you about these services in writing. Again, this information can help you make an informed decision about the right facility for your loved one.

3. You must be sure of all additional services and costs. Request a copy of the fee schedule for all services. This will enable you to better understand what costs are covered in your monthly fee and what services may cost extra. This information is useful because it will help you compare nursing home costs.

4. What are the ratings and safety of the nursing home you are looking into? It is crucial that you always look up the organization’s ratings. Tools, such as Medicare Nursing Home Compare, are very useful to look at and find information on local facilities. You will be able to find answers to important questions like, whether or not the nursing home has the appropriate staffing to handle the number of residents that live there.

5. What, if any, are the special services offered? Does your loved one require extra medical attention? You may want to ask the home you are considering if it can provide transport for residents to see their doctors, and whether or not it is included in the breakdown of the fees.

We realize that there are other things you may want to investigate before you place your aging parent in a nursing home, but the tips mentioned above are a good place to start. Do not hesitate to schedule an in-person visit to see the facility firsthand and also you should drop in for an unannounced visit. Remember the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website can help provide you with more information when making this very important decision.

At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.