A natural progression of physical and mental deterioration accompanies aging. As daily activities become increasingly difficult, some seniors may avoid getting proper care for themselves to avoid being a burden to others. When seniors pay less attention to their health, they may be making more visits to emergency rooms and hospitals than necessary, which sets the stage for serious illnesses to take root. Family members may want to help, but many of them find that they are unfamiliar with their new responsibilities as caregivers. Family members can end up feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and alone.
When stress and discomfort become the norm for the senior and caregiver, it’s time to seek out nursing care services to lend a helping hand. By enlisting the help of a coordinated, personalized plan of high quality care, the most vulnerable seniors can enjoy quality of life during their final years of life.
For Wichita residents, a good place to look for nursing home services is the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging (CPAAA). CPAAA serves individuals aged 60 and over by offering programs with various levels of support to help them through life’s transitions. They focus on seniors who have low incomes, minorities, non-English speaking people, people living with Alzheimer’s disease, and anyone who is at risk for nursing home placement. CPAAA also helps families with transportation needs. Family members may call CPAAA directly at (316) 660-5120 or toll free at (800) 367-7298 for information and assistance.
Seniors and family members should always visit nursing homes before the admission day arrives so that they have an opportunity to meet staff, view the facility, and learn about the facility’s services and programs. A good place that can help you narrow your search for a nursing facility is SeniorAdvisor.com. Do a search for nursing care facilities in Wichita, read descriptions and reviews, and do some online comparing.
Going on your first tour of a nursing home can be pretty overwhelming. Take a notebook along with you and jot down notes for later review. Prepare a list of questions to ask the nursing home’s administration and staff. Here’s a sample of questions that you may want to ask:
How does the facility provide nursing supervision and personal caregiving?
Does the facility also offer skilled nursing care, including medical and rehabilitation services?
Does the facility have an Alzheimer’s unit or program?
What kind of specialized programs do they have for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling programs?
How do they accommodate special dietary needs?
What safety measures are in place, such as fire doors, sprinklers, call lights, and grab bars in bathrooms and hallways?
What activities do they provide for able-bodied and room-bound residents?
How do they match roommates?
Are there support groups for residents and family members?
In addition to learning more about the facility’s services and programs, you’ll also want to ask questions about costs. Find out if the facility accepts the form of payment that you have available, including services that may be covered under Medicare and Medicaid. Not all services are covered under insurance, so be sure to ask if there is an extra cost for any of the specialized services.
In getting answers to questions about nursing care, the senior and family caregivers will be able to measure whether a particular facility will meet the needs of the senior and is one that the family members will be happy with as well.
Taking steps to transition a loved one into a nursing care facility often proves to be unnerving for the family members and disquieting for the senior. Remember that it takes time to adjust to moving to any new environment. Expect that there will be some new feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration for the senior and caregiver. Try to prepare for the move ahead of time by taking a few thoughtful steps to ease the transition.
Bring some photos or other personal effects to individualize the space and make it feel like home. Reassure your senior that you will visit often to make sure that they are comfortable, well taken care of, and that you are not abandoning them. When practical, take them out for short drives or outings, so they don’t feel secluded.
Get to know the schedules and shift changes so that you know the best times to call and visit. Attend your loved one’s case conferences and share information that helps facility caregivers. Address problems and concerns professionally, and with the right staff in the facility. If you can’t resolve problems on your own, seek the assistance of an Ombudsman. Remember that the staff is working very hard to care for your loved one. Offer them support and show appreciation for their service.
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