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Tips on How to Choose Elder Care

An article in this week’s Patriot-News of Harrisburg gives some helpful tips on choosing the right type of elder care for a loved one. As anyone who has gone through the process knows, it’s not an easy decision to make. That’s why we found the tips in this article particularly helpful in making such an important decision in the life of an aged loved one.

In the article, Ann Henry, chief operating officer for the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, is quoted as saying, “The biggest thing for a lot of people is the feeling of guilt. You want to be able to take your loved one and care for them and oftentimes you just can’t.”

The tips were put together with the help of the state Department of Health and the state Department of Public Welfare.

Determine what type of care is needed. Your local agency on aging is often a good resource to help you determine how much care should be provided. You may need to decide if a personal care or assisted living facility is needed, depending on whether the individual is able to do certain things on his or her own, such as bathing and dressing. Or, you may find that a nursing home is necessary if your loved one needs assistance with all activities of daily living.

Talk to friends, family, and acquaintances for recommendations. You would probably be surprised to find out how many other family members, friends, and neighbors have had to go through the same difficult process of deciding on elder care for a loved one. Reach out to others and ask them for advice and suggestions.

Make an unannounced visit. In addition to scheduling a tour of the facility you are considering, stop by for an impromptu visit as well. You may observe some things that you did not see during your scheduled visit.

Follow your senses. When visiting a facility, pay attention to the way the staff interact with the residents and visitors. Look to see if residents are happy.

Consider the individual. Think of the personality of your loved one and try to determine if their needs and interests will be met in the facility you are considering for them.

The article also listed some questions to ask when you are considering elder care for your loved one.

Is the facility close enough for family and friends to visit?

What are your first impressions when you enter the facility? Is is attractive? How does is smell? Is it clean?

How do the staff interact with residents and visitors? Do staff seem happy with their work? Are they courteous and respectful? Do they know the residents by name? Is there enough staff working on the weekends and in the evenings?

Do the activities offered by the facility match the individual’s interests? Are residents encouraged to participate in activities?

Does the facility offer religious or cultural support?

What do the rooms look like? Is there privacy? Can residents decorate their rooms?

What are the dining procedures? Are special diets provided for if necessary?

Does the facility provide services for terminally-ill residents? How are prescriptions administered? Are there special-care units for patients with Alzheimer’s? Does the facility have an arrangement with a nearby hospital in case of emergency? Are specialists such as eye doctors able to see residents on a regular basis?

What services are covered in the basic charge? What are the extra charges? Does the facility accept Medicaid or Medicare if that coverage is needed?

What are the patients’ rights and responsibilities? Is there a resident council and family council?

Does the facility have the latest health and fire-safety inspection reports available for review?