Evaluating Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled nursing facilities, better known as nursing homes, promote care to those individuals who can no longer care for themselves at home. A wide range of nursing, rehabilitative, social and medical services are delivered on a 24-hour basis. Skilled nursing facilities help people during a time when they cannot adequately care for themselves. These facilities provide necessary nursing and medical intervention while promoting the restoration of a person’s maximum independence. Evercare Connections

1. Know your rights. If a hospital informs you that your loved one must be discharged within 24 hours, remember that you have appeal rights under Medicare. This could allow you to extend your relative’s stay by two additional days and give you more time to research nursing homes. For details about appeal rights, ask the hospital for a copy of “An Important Message from Medicare,” or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

2. Turn to the Eldercare Locator for help. This resource will connect you with your local agency on aging, which can give you the names and locations of all nursing homes in a given area. Call the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116.

3. Prepare to do lots of clicking. Consumer Reports recently completed an investigation of nursing homes across the country and made its findings available free of charge online. This will ultimately lead you to nursing homes in your state to consider and to avoid.

4. Tap into other resources. You also can check less complete surveys of nursing homes through the Nursing Home Compare database on the Web site of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Many state health agencies also track nursing homes in a similar way. To find such a resource, do a quick Internet search using the name of your state along with the words “health department.” Then visit that state Web site and find a phone number you can call. Ask the person who answers whether there’s a way for you to see nursing home surveys or ratings for your state.

5. Check state survey reports. When you visit a nursing home, ask for a copy of a report known as Form 2567, or the state inspection survey. This report will reveal the results of unannounced visits by state surveyors who spoke with residents and checked on sanitary conditions and care issues.

6. Contact your state’s long-term care ombudsman program. Another important resource for you can be the ombudsman who monitors nursing homes in your state or local area. You can do another quick Internet search using the name of your state and the word “ombudsman” to find the contact information you’ll need. You also can ask for this contact information when you call your state’s health department.

7. Make unannounced visits more than once. As you zero in on two or three nursing homes, visit them at different times of day. Are many residents still in bed at 10 a.m. or so? Do many eat dinner in their rooms rather than in the dining room? Both of these can be signs of an under-staffed facility that isn’t giving residents enough stimulation.

8. Stay alert for other telling details. Are toileting needs being met right away? Are safety precautions in place to prevent accidents? Are exercise and rehabilitation sessions scheduled regularly? How does the staff interact with residents? How does the food taste to you?

9. Sit down with the administrator. Ask about his or her views on long-term care, and find out if the nursing home has seen a lot of high-level turnover in recent years. If it has, that could be a sign of instability.

10. Inquire about Medicaid. If your relative lives in a nursing home for a long time, his or her financial resources most likely will be exhausted or “spent down,” and he or she will then be eligible for Medicaid. Get in writing the nursing home’s payment policy once private funds or Medicare reimbursements run out. Does the nursing home accept Medicaid payment eventually? If so, at what point?

Sources: Consumer Reports’ Nursing Home Guide, “Consumer Reports Complete Guide to Health Services for Seniors” by Trudy Lieberman and the Editors of Consumer Reports, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services © 2009 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints

Help for Chronic Disease and End of Life needs

Everyone wants to have a positive life experience, living independently and making their own decisions. As declines of aging or serious illness take a toll, LifePath and most hospice groups have services that help patients and families manage the challenges.

Important Considerations
• If you or a loved one was seriously ill or in pain, do you know of helpful resources and services ? What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?
• Do you have a written plan stating what kind of health care treatments and support you would want (or not want) if you could not speak for yourself?
• Have you talked with family or physician about your wishes for medical treatment and end of life care?

Steps That Help Ensure Your Wishes Will Be Honored
• Learn about your options at each stage ( serious illness, end stage illness, terminal illness, vegetative state) and consider how you would like to manage conditions.
• Document your wishes. Complete Advance Directives and clarify the issues that are important to you ( tube feeding vs. withdrawal of nutrition/ hydration, ventilator assistance, comfort measures vs. continuing treatment, burial vs. cremation, etc.).
• Designate a Healthcare Surrogate to carry out your wishes. Tell your family and physician whom you have selected and what you specified to encourage their support.
• Learn about hospice and palliative care so that you can receive pain and symptom management while seeking a cure and when treatment is no longer beneficial.

Things You May Not Know About Hospice Services
Most of us know that hospice service provides pain and symptom management for
people who are no longer seeking a cure. But you may surprised by these facts:
– Patients frequently improve under hospice care and may be discharged because they no
longer meet Medicare criteria. When they decline again, they are easily readmitted.
– At the end of life, the patient may be more focused on spiritual needs while families are
concerned with medical interventions.
– Adult children especially have difficulty coming to terms with the realities of their parent’s
condition . Emotional and spiritual counseling are offered to any family member who needs
help in dealing with the circumstances. Social workers facilitate family meetings to gain
support for patient’s wishes.
– Hospice care is a choice; but the benefits are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many
insurance .
– Hospice provides respite care of up to five days so that a caregiver can take time off.
– Inpatient care at a Hospice House may be available for a period.
– Information visits with hospice representatives can answer family questions.
– If a physician has not made a hospice referral, a family or friend can request the service.
Remember, a referral is not an admission. It is simply a request to review a patient’s current
condition.

For more information , contact Sue Pagano, Community Representative for LifePath Hospice, Inc. Call 813.838.6523 or via email: paganos@chaptershealth.org.
sue pagano

Tips for downsizing a senior or anyone

Whether you are a senior, contemplating a downsize move or are helping a family member prepare for a move to a senior community, the following tips may be helpful in getting you through the process.

Start with papers–files, photographs, etc.  Set up a work space, large enough to spread out to avoid tripping on papers or boxes.  Start with 3 boxes marked “Keep”, “Shred” and “Toss”.  Labeling the boxes is important–it’s so easy to get mixed up and throw items in the wrong box.  You can go back later and sift through the “Keep” box and organize it more thoroughly, if desired.  The “shred” box can be taken to your local shipping retailer, where they charge by the pound to have your things shredded. If there is a substantial amount–more than 3 or 4 boxes, it may be more cost effective and convenient to have a local service to come to your home and do the shredding in your driveway for a flat fee.

Next, work on closets and clothing.  It has been said that if it hasn’t been worn in a year, it should go to charity, or other outlet.  Good advice, but it’s okay to pick your own time limit.  Salvation Army, Purple Heart, AmVets, etc. will gladly pick up at a residence.  There are also neighborhood drop-off locations.  Consider doing the sorting in small batches, dropping it off as you go.

It makes sense to sort the kitchen last, in most cases, because kitchenware will need to be used right up until the day of the move.  There are a few exceptions, though.  Clean out the plastic container cupboard (almost everyone has one).  There is often many containers without lids, and vice-versa, which makes the project easy and quick and it feels like you have accomplished something.  The food pantry is another easy place to make some headway–removing expired and stale food.  When the move takes place, unopened food items from the pantry can be taken to a local food bank.

If the project is more than you and your family can manage without ruining your body or your family relationships, consider hiring a senior move manager.  Sometimes, receiving help from a person that is not emotionally attached to the situation can help keep things moving.  If there is no family in the local area, it is an especially good idea to hire some help.  Senior move managers are prepared to patiently work side by side with the client, deciding what stays and goes, being their arms and legs.  Sometimes their purpose is to keep the client “on task”….knowing that money is being spent by the hour can help motivate to do the work.  A senior move manager can help sort and haul and pack and unpack and figure out where un-needed items can find new homes, through consignment, donation, estate sale, etc.  An internet search can help locate a senior move manager.

In many instances, The amount of unwanted items is significant enough to warrant an estate sale.  In those cases, the items that are to be kept and moved to the new residence are plucked out and moved, leaving everything else in place in the home.  The estate sale company then comes in and removes any items that are not salable, arranges the “merchandise” for easy viewing and prices everything.  They normally will handle staffing, advertising, setting up, tearing down, arranging for pick up of items that didn’t sell and leaving the home completely empty and ready for sale or rental, all for a percentage of the sale proceeds and without any up-front cost to the client.  The proceeds of a sale can help off-set the cost of moving, and could help pay for a senior move manager.

There are many good articles on this topic on the internet, on websites that cater to seniors, such as aarp.org,  caring.com,  seniorlifestyle.com,  seniorcitizensguide.com.

By Jenny Loktu, Tender Care Move Management  813.784.0235

Jenny Loktu, Senior Movers
Jenny Loktu, Senior Movers

Getting older isn’t for sissies!

bc sunnyMost people won’t seek help until their hair is on fire!

Here’s a startling fact: Today’s baby boomers will live 40-50 years beyond retirement.  For some, that’s longer than they were in the work force!

As the last self-sufficient generation in America, we are expected to maintain control of our physical and financial well being.  We must learn how to maximize assets and utilize all  possible benefits in order to remain independent.

In a split second, you can become one of 65 million Americans who is caring for a loved one, spending thousands of dollars annually and taking as much as 10 years off your life!

Where do you go for help?

Search our website for the help you need.

From being downsized at the job–to preparing final arrangements for a loved, we’ve all been there!  We know how costly it can be to make the wrong choices or fail to plan for the inevitable.

Our goal is to help others navigate through the maze of growing older in America while living well in our community.  With some forethought and planning, your hair will remain intact!