The Sad (and Sometimes Terrifying) Realities of Putting Your Parent in a Nursing Home

At some point, you may need help with your elderly parent, this is a common occurrence. Putting your parent in a nursing home is a daunting task. Often, family members make these decisions quickly and are unaware of their options. Here’s what you should be aware of.

For starters, not all nursing homes are created equal

Elderly care and respect

Do extensive research on your nursing home of choice. | iStock.com/vladans

U.S. News ranks facilities based on health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality measures. According to U.S. News, “on any given day, 1.9 million people wake up in a nursing home.” Do your research on care services in your area and what’s most important for your family member’s quality of life.

The U.S. News list is a great resource to begin with when starting the process. How each home is evaluated can give you an idea of what to look for when evaluating nursing homes in your area.

Care costs continue to rise

Sad man looking at his wallet

It definitely won’t be cheap. | SIphotography/iStock/Gety Images

A survey conducted by Genworth Financial, says a private room in a nursing home may soon cost $100,000 a year. “Rising labor expenses and sicker patients helped push the median cost of care up an average of 4.5 percent this year,” according to an excerpt in The Chicago Tribune. The reality is no one wants to think about their loved ones needing long-term care so they put off saving money or simply don’t have extra cash to save.

Start saving now

Man calculates money on calculator along with piggy bank

It would be wise to save if this is something you really want to do. | iStock.com

As costs continue to increase for care, families are encouraged to save money before nursing homes are needed. The time to start saving is now. Time pointed out in an article that the American Association of Long Term Care Insurance provides free quotes on pricing. If you have no money set aside for care, seniors can learn how to budget their money with benefits from information provided by the National Council on Aging.

Medicare and Medicaid have valuable resources

instruction manual

There are some valuable resources available. | Adam Berry/Getty Images

Medicare offers a checklist to help families decide which facility is right for them. Medicare says to visit a nursing home at least twice, at different times on different days, to evaluate staff because of varying work schedules. They also recommend completing a new checklist every time you visit a different facility. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a 48-page guide available on payment options, resident rights, nursing home care, and more. Also, keep in mind these red flags when visiting.

Employee turnover is high in nursing homes

care giver assisting a woman with a walker

Don’t be surprised if your parent’s favorite provider suddenly leaves. | Carsten Koall/Getty Images

If employees don’t like their jobs, chances are they’re not going above and beyond to care for residents. You want the best care you can afford for your family, which means low turnover rates and therefore, good management. According to an American Health Care staffing report, “In 2012, the median turnover rate for all employees in America’s skilled nursing care centers was 43.9 percent.”

Sexually transmitted diseases are everywhere

Elderly couple drinking coffee

STD’s are a problem at any age. | iStock.com

According to Derrick Y. McDaniel, author of Eldercare, The Essential Guide To Caring For Your Loved One And Yourself, “what goes on in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or other large residential congregations of elderly people is a lot closer to what goes on in spring break hotels than most people would ever imagine.” McDaniel discusses the rise of STDs among the elderly in the HuffPost, crediting various reasons for the rise. Two reasons include a weakened immune system and being unaware of safe sex practices.

Stays can be long and not covered by insurance

Woman holding debt sign.

Don’t take the out of pocket costs lightly. | iStock.com

A person spends 835 days on average in a nursing home, according to the latest National Nursing Home Survey. Medicare only covers up to 100 days, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. These numbers emphasize the hard truth that care is expensive and can drain one’s savings account in a flash. Many people don’t know how they’re going to pay for care. Begin by having a conversation with your spouse or family members.

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