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Long Term Care Alternatives & Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home
When planning ahead or making an unexpected decision, it helps to have as much information as possible. Choosing a nursing home or making other long term care decisions can have great emotional effect on you and your loved ones. Many times the person(s) making the decision are doing so for a loved one and not themselves. If at all possible, it is helpful to plan ahead, visit and compare alternatives and make good financial plans early. Planning ahead gives you and your family more control and can help make sure that your needs are met so you can get good quality care.
Depending on your needs and resources, you may have long-term care choices like community services, home care or assisted living. Before choosing a nursing home, check to see if one of these other choices may be better for you, or if they might help after a temporary nursing home stay. The checklist below will be a helpful tool in deciding on your nursing home.
Be aware that Medicare covers some skilled nursing and rehabilitative care, but generally does not cover custodial care (help with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and using the bathroom). Most people who enter a nursing home begin by paying for their nursing home care out of their own pocket. Residents may pay for their nursing home stay using their personal resources, long-term care insurance, or with Medicaid if they are eligible. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with low incomes and limited resources. Medicaid pays for care for about seven out of every ten nursing home residents.
Helping Another Person Choose Long Term Care
Many people using this publication provide care and/or help make health care decisions for another person. Making changes in living arrangements is a difficult yet necessary decision many caregivers must help make. Your support can help make the change from living at home to living elsewhere easier for your loved one. Be their advocate by observing the care and living conditions and discussing concerns with the staff of facilities or immediate caregivers. Remember, it is important to include the person who needs long term care in making decisions whenever possible. Always keep their needs in mind.
Who Can Help Answer Questions
Area Agency on Aging (AoA)
AoA is a federal agency that can provide you with a list of the long-term care choices including community services. They can also help you locate nursing homes. Visit http://www.aoa.gov/ on the web.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
CMS has free booklets about Medicare coverage and other health related topics. See page 62 for free booklets on Medicare and related topics. For information about the location and quality of nursing homes, look at http://www.medicare.gov/ on the web. Select “Nursing Home Compare.” Or, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). This is a 24-hour Helpline. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide toll-free service to help older adults and their caregivers find local services for seniors. Go to http://www.eldercare.gov/ on the web. Or, call them at 1-800-677-1116 (weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities. Call the Area Wide Aging Agency Senior Information Line at 1-800-211-2116 to ask for contact for your area. You may call Area Wide Aging Agency, Senior Information Line 1-800-211-2116 to ask for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman program helps residents of nursing homes solve problems by acting on their behalf. Ombudsmen visit nursing homes and speak with residents throughout the year to make sure residents' rights are protected. They are a very good source of general information about nursing homes and can work to solve problems with your nursing home care, including financial issues. They may be able to help you compare the nursing home's strengths and weaknesses. Ask them questions like how many complaints they have gotten about a nursing home, what kind of complaints they were, and if the problems were resolved.
Oklahoma State Department of Health
The agency can help you with questions or complaints about the quality of care or the quality of life in a nursing home. Contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Protective Health Services, at 1-800-522-0203 or (405) 271-6868.