How To Choose a Retirement Home – Sooner or later, most aging people need more care than they can receive at home. That’s where retirement homes come in. But different homes provide different services and different standards of care, and they can charge vastly different amounts. So how do you begin to choose?
The best way to decide whether a retirement home is right for you or your loved one is to visit. If possible, all stakeholders should visit together: the care recipient and members of the family. But how can you extrapolate from the authorized tour to guess what day-to-day life would be like at a facility? A good place to start is by asking these five questions:
- Is the home Medicare and Medicaid certified? “Certified” means that the home has passed an inspection conducted by an agent sent by the state. A facility that passed may accept funding from the agency. You can find the home’s certification status on your state’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services page, along with any citations for abuse at that location.
- Will the care recipient have to move if his or her condition worsens? Some retirement homes provide no assistance for residents except cooking, cleaning and laundry services. Others provide assisted living, which includes help with daily activities like bathing and dressing. Still others provide skilled medical care for conditions like dementia. It may be worth considering a facility that provides a higher level of care than the resident needs at the time he or she moves in. Otherwise, you may need to either hire a home health aide or move homes later on.
- How does the staff treat the residents? It can be hard to get a sense of this on an official tour, but take note of what you can. Do nurses address residents by name? Do they knock before entering a private room? In short, are the residents treated like guests or like obstacles?
- What do the rooms look like? This question can seem trivial next to concerns about care, but it’s an important one. Residents might live in the same room for years. Are the rooms big enough? Is the furniture sturdy? Is the space clean and well lit? Is there a window? Does the Wi-Fi work? If it’s not a room you’d rent in other circumstances, you shouldn’t move into it now.
- What amenities does the facility have? Residents spend the whole day in retirement homes, so there should be things to do. Many homes offer classes or volunteer opportunities. Some have a senior-friendly gym or swimming pool. Ask yourself what you can’t live without, and make sure it’s available.
This is just a summary of a complex process. You will want to get help from financial and medical professionals. Choosing a retirement home is a big decision, and there’s no shortage of options. But if you ask the right questions, you’ll be on your way to making the right choice.
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