When it becomes apparent that a loved one may need a greater level of long-term care that’s best provided in a nursing home or other institutional setting, planning ahead with the help of an experienced California elder law attorney is one of the best choices you can make.
By planning in advance, an elderly family member is able to have a much greater say in what type of nursing home he or she will enter. When these decisions are left until an emergency, however, the actual resident’s wishes are far less likely to be considered. That is because placing an elderly person into a nursing home is incredibly stressful for all involved. When it is done at the last minute as the result of some sort of “last straw” event, no one is thinking clearly anymore.
In general, we advise our clients to consider the following guidelines when beginning the process of evaluating nursing homes that may be best for your loved one’s needs:
- Ask friends and family members for their opinions on nursing homes where they’ve lived or visited. Your doctor may also be a great resource for finding out about the best local care.
- Don’t just base your decision on a few brochures and a price. Instead, take the time to actually conduct in-person visits to your top choices. Showing up unannounced may help you to see what things are like on a typical day.
- Make an appointment with the nursing home staff to discuss the care you or your loved one will receive. Take notes and compare them among your top facilities to ensure you’re making the choice that fits your needs.
- Ask what happens if your loved one’s condition gets worse. For example, a loved one with dementia may only need moderate assistance today, but will soon require round-the-clock care as his or her condition deteriorates. It’s important to ensure that the facilities you are touring have the ability to meet your loved one’s changing needs.
- Run your top choices by your elder law attorney. Chances are, your attorney has had clients use the facilities you are considering and can share feedback about each one. Your attorney can also help you review any contracts to ensure that you are comfortable with the services provided.
- The earlier you start thinking about PAYING for care, the better. If done early enough, your attorney may be able to help the family reallocate assets so that the senior can qualify for benefits like Medi-Cal or Veteran’s Aid and Attendance to pick up some or all of the cost.
Again, taking the time to evaluate long-term care options before the family is under pressure is one of the best things you can do when approaching a transition into nursing home care. If you need assistance getting started or you have questions about some of the guidelines we’ve discussed in this blog post, please feel free to contact one of our estate and elder law firms located throughout the state of California by calling 800-244-8814.