With the baby-boomer generation aging, many are faced with taking on the care of a loved one.
Several options are available, including home health care, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and independent living centers.
Home health comes to the patient’s home to care for them there and a nursing home has nurses care for residents and administer medications and other treatments. Assisted living centers are able to provide nutrition and administer medications, while independent living centers often have age requirements and offer little assistance. Someone is usually present in case of emergency, however this is not always the case.
Douglas Reed, professor and director of the Masters of Gerontology at the University of Central Oklahoma, said there are several things to consider when deciding the care of a loved one.
Usually people stay home and receive assistance from family or a home health professional, Reed said.
If this does not work, many will go to assisted living centers before going to a nursing home.
“They can go into assisted living and they make sure they get their nutrition, and they make sure they get their medications,” he said.
However, assisted living centers are limited in what they can do with nursing care. They have a lower number of nurses than a nursing home, under state law.
Nursing homes are typically for patients with more complex chronic illnesses.
“Somebody is so sick that the nursing care they need is so complicated that the family can’t do it,” Reed said.
Reed added that it is important in decision-making to allow the individual being moved to take the lead.
“It’s really important to get the person to agree to the placement,” he said.
Otherwise, the loved one’s health will decline, in most cases, Reed said.
Reed encouraged families to take tours of nursing homes and assisted living centers, and not go strictly off of brochures and the website.
It is important to go and spend time in the facility, he said. Talk to the residents and staff, learn the routine, and decide along with the family member the best course of action.
“It’s always best to go and physically get into the nursing home,” Reed said.
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Additionally, if a loved one must be placed in a nursing home, Reed suggested an Eden alternative nursing home. These facilities give the patient more control over when they wake up, when they eat, and other aspects of their lives, he said.
“They’re more focused on the patient than on the system itself,” Reed said.