The decision to admit your loved one to a nursing home is rarely an easy one to make, but it's often a choice that both parties must learn to accept. When hands-on care just isn't logistically possible any more or when your elder family member needs the kind of rehabilitation or supervision that you can't provide, nursing homes often offer the most stable option for care.
Of course, making the decision is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you've charted your path and decided on a home (sometimes with the help of a geriatrician or social worker), vetted the facility and made your visit, the actual admission process typically requires a heap of paperwork and a hearty dose of patience.
Gather Your Info
Virtually any nursing home will require your senior's medical history, including a full list of past and current health issues, surgeries, shots and allergies. Likewise, be sure to have recent diagnostic test results and basic information about daily routine and activities on-hand.
You'll also need a detailed list of current medications, including dosage, as well as contact information for health care providers, family members and other emergency contacts.
Finally, be sure to collect all necessary documentation for insurance, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, and consult your health care provider, attorney or state health department for advance directives. These documents legally let health care professionals know what decisions your elder would prefer if he or she is or becomes too ill to speak.
Consult Your Doctor and Director
To apply for admission at a 24-hour care facility, your senior will need to have seen his or her doctor no more than 30 days before the application. Typically, the order to go to a nursing home comes through a doctor or medical facility staff member. The doctor must provide a history and physical, a copy of recent lab reports, a signed list of medications, any relevant nursing notes or therapy reports and a written order signing off on admission to a long-term care facility.
Once you've got your personal and physician-approved paperwork, reach out to the nursing home's admission director or administrator to help coordinate and finalize the admission.
Before your elder makes the move official, consult with an elder law attorney to help you and your family make decisions concerning the management of income, assets and property, especially if the person being admitted has a spouse who is staying at home.
In the unfortunate case that your senior family member has become mentally incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions, a medical power of attorney may come in to play. If medical power of attorney was granted to a person by your elder while he or she was still mentally competent, that person may have the power to make arrangements for nursing homes, assisted living and hospice situations.
Though not typically required, opening up a personal needs account is worth considering. This banking option allows you and your family to deposit money for your elder's personal use. Management of personal needs accounts varies per caregiver, so always check out the situation beforehand.
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- Focus on the Family: When a Nursing Home Must Be Considered
- U.S. News and World Report: Senior Care: Best Nursing Homes
- Medicare.gov: Information Nursing Homes Need to Admit You
- Elder Law of Louisville: How the Nursing Home Admissions Process Works
- LegalBeagle: Can You Admit Someone to a Nursing Home with Medical Power of Attorney?
- Medicare.gov: Advance Directives and Long-term Care
- Make sure that you get copies of all paperwork for your own personal records.
With a diverse professional background and a decade of experience as a freelance writer, Dan has contributed lifestyle content -- from fashion to travel to fitness and more -- to publishers including Chron, Fortune, Sony, GlobalPost, ModernMom, Moviefone, Salon.com, Techwalla and dozens of others.