Living in a nursing home might not be every senior’s idea of the ideal situation, but it’s important to know the facts about these facilities before you need to use one. There are hundreds of nursing homes in Maryland, and dozens of them are in Baltimore. Each one has something to offer their residents like the continuum of care patients can get at North Oaks Retirement Community or the skilled nursing and rehabilitative services at Long Green Center. You can even find facilities like Augsburg Lutheran Home & Village that offer skilled nursing in a faith-based setting.
If you’re interested in nursing homes in the Baltimore area, you can use this guide to learn about prices, services, and what to look for when you start searching for the best nursing home for you.
According to the Administration on Aging’s Profile of Older Americans, CMC Nursing Home Data Compendium, and CDC Nursing Home FastStats:
Maryland has 228 certified nursing homes, and 49 of them are in Baltimore.
14% of the nursing homes in Maryland are in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
About 2/3 of seniors 65 and older will need to use long-term care.
8% of adults 65 and older found self-care hard, 23% had ambulatory difficulty, and 15% found it hard to live on their own.
Maryland had a nursing home occupancy of 87% in 2014.
Most seniors tend to stay in a nursing home an average of three years but there are a few factors that contribute to this number. Since women live longer than men, their average stay in a nursing home can be longer as well. The severity of your condition can also contribute to how long you stay.
Many assume that patients in nursing homes are there for the long haul, but that isn’t always the case. Some residents stay in nursing facilities for a short time while they work to get back home. A senior who has just had pneumonia but is otherwise healthy might leave the hospital and stay in a nursing home to work on breathing therapy so they can return home.
Other seniors might stay in a nursing home for a short time to get respite care. Family caregivers often stay with their loved ones all day every day and if they don’t take regular breaks, they might experience caregiver burnout. Respite care helps them avoid that by giving them a short break so they can recharge. Nursing homes that offer respite care can also help seniors get a feel for what it’s like to live in a long-term care facility if they need that option in the future.
You can expect a high level of care in a skilled nursing facility and it’s often just a step down from hospital care. Certified nursing assistants (CNA) help care for things like bathing, grooming, getting in and out of a wheelchair, or getting out of bed. The nurses on staff will take care of medical issues like dressing wounds, monitoring conditions like heart problems or diabetes, and managing medication schedules.
Patients who are working on going home soon often need therapy and nursing homes can provide that. There is occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and even pet therapy that all work on assisting seniors in their recovery. For patients that aren’t getting better, hospice is provided. A team of care members consisting of doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers will help the patient and their family prepare for the end of life.
Residents will also get meals in nursing homes and depending on their dietary needs, those meals can be tailored to everyone. Meals are usually eaten in a dining hall which gives residents a chance to socialize and leave their rooms. Nurses will be on hand to help and if you can’t leave your room, you can eat there as well.
Social activities and spiritual groups are regular occurrences in nursing homes and provide residents with entertainment. Seniors can enjoy a card game, arts and crafts, or a movie. If they’re well enough, they might even get to leave for outings to local destinations. Holiday celebrations are common as are a variety of religious services, bible studies, and prayer meetings.
Some facilities will have things like salon services, nail appointments, or regular visits from the barber. These help patients freshen up for guests as well as feel and look their best during their stay.
According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, in 2015, the annual cost for a semi private room in Baltimore was $113,150. The cost went up to $128,480 for a private room. When you compare these costs to the state average of $104,208 and $113,333 respectively, Baltimore might seem a little pricey. Keep in mind these are just averages and the cost can go up and down based on many factors.
The location of the facility will play a role in cost as well as its location. The length of your stay and the services you require while you’re there can make the price go up or down. If you use a Medicaid approved facility as a Medicaid patient, your rate will be the agreed upon rate offered in the contract. Some seniors don’t qualify for Medicaid but still have low incomes that affect their ability to go to a nursing home. Some non-profit facilities can work with you and offer a price that will fit your budget.
Whether you have a long time to find a nursing home or need one in the next few days, you must do your research. Those pressed for time can find the services of a senior advisor or a few extra family members helpful. Only choose a facility with the proper license and make sure they listen to and resolve all complaints in a timely manner. All places should show you their inspection record and have enough staff to accommodate the patients.
If possible, visit each place. This lets you gauge the cleanliness of the facility, see how staff interacts with patients, talk with residents, and possibly eat a meal there. If you want to compare nursing homes in the area or create a list of questions to ask, the Maryland Health Care Commission has a consumer guide to nursing homes.
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