I am looking for a nursing home for a family member, but I do not know where to begin. What should I look for?
Finding the right long-term care facility is very important. Most facilities are very responsive to a phone call for information and will encourage you to take a tour. By all means, visit the facility and let one of the staff people take you around. This can give you plenty of information to make the right decision. When you tour the facility be sure to look for certain things: is the place clean? Are the residents clean and happy? How do the staff and residents seem to interact? And when you visit any long-term care facility, make sure you use your nose. the facility should not only look clean, it should smell clean. You may want to make a few visits to the facility to see if it meets your standards even on some “surprise inspections.” Most reputable facilities welcome the opportunity to show you what they do.
What does a nursing home cost?
Make an appointment with the nursing home to discuss costs. At Baxter Bayou, we have dedicated personnel who meet one-on-one to discuss what you need and what we can offer. Not all residents require the same level of care, so prices can vary. In some cases, insurance may help cover costs. In other cases, Medicaid may cover the expenses. However, you should be advised that many people in residential care facilities are what we call “self pay,” meaning that they or their families are paying out-of-pocket for their care. This is something to discuss with a representative of Baxter Bayou or any other facility you are interested in, since there are many factors that affect costs and payments.
My family member does not want to go to a nursing home, but I cannot care for him at home any longer. What can I do?
Sometimes the people who need the most care are the most resistant to being cared for. There is no easy answer to help an unwilling person into a long-term care facility, but we can offer some advice. In some cases, you may enlist the support of a family physician, clergyman, or friend, who can help persuade the person that the move is in his best interest. In other cases, you may be able to discuss the idea and bring your loved one on a tour. We offer that service at Baxter Bayou, so that the family can see the facility first hand. (The whole family can come along.) But we know that sometimes you run into a brick wall! In that case, we recommend that you bring the subject up regularly and maybe even come out on one or two or more tours. We have experienced situations where a person rejected the idea of long-term care at first but eventually–as it became more familiar–was willing to give it a try. So don’t give up. It’s not unusual to meet with resistance when you propose such a major change. However, if you cannot care for your loved one any longer and he or she is adamant about staying at home, you should make an appointment with an attorney, especially if you can find one who specializes in what is called “elder law.” There may be legal steps you can take to get the person into care.
What kinds of activities are offered in long-term care facilities?
At Baxter Bayou, we have a full-time activity director. It is her job to plan for daily activities and events that meet the needs of our residents. We offer at least one activity every single day, 365 days a year, and most days we have several different activities going on. These activities include games (Bingo, board games, cards), exercise (stretching, chair exercises, Wii tennis), crafts (special projects, quilting bee, crochet lessons, painting classes), and special interest meetings (church services, singing). Every month, we have at least one outing where most residents can go out into the community, whether to shop or attend a special event or watch a parade. These vary from month to month. Even our patients in wheelchairs or with limited mobility are accommodated so that they can get out. These activities are intended to prevent boredom and to encourage residents to get to know each other.
What if my loved one gets sick? Do you have doctors on staff?
Arbor Acres, like most long-term care facilities, has round-the-clock nursing care. We also work with two local physicians. These doctors are not on staff but one is always on call with us. These physicians visit the facility on a regular basis and see all residents for check-ups. If a resident gets sick or needs medical attention, these are the physicians we contact. They are very responsive and if your family member has been here for more than a month or two, they will know the residents and their medical histories.
What about laundry?
We encourage you to bring practical, easy-care clothes for your family members with us; we provide laundry service. Of course, it is your option–if you would rather do laundry for your family member, that is perfectly fine. Most residents prefer for us to take care of their laundry. Please use a laundry marker (such as a Sharpee pen) and write your family member’s name on all clothes to prevent mix-ups.
Can we decorate the room for our loved one?
Absolutely! We encourage you and your family to make your loved one’s new home as homey and comfortable as possible. Of course, there are some restrictions, and we will be happy to go over these with you. The restrictions mainly have to do with safety or with local or state laws. For example, your loved one cannot have a microwave oven or a hot plate–that is for his safety and the safety of those around him. You can bring a special chair, bed linens, pillows, stuffed animals, crafts and books, TV, stereo, and computer. Baxter Bayou has a maintenance crew available to help you move furniture or set up the room, for example, to put in a hanger to support a flat-screen TV. We may have to work with you to get cable TV or Internet service; this is not automatically provided and will have to be installed. You will be responsible for paying those costs.You may also paint or wallpaper the room and hang pictures. Our maintenance crew will be happy to assist you.
Can my loved one have a telephone?
At Baxter Bayou, we offer a phone room where residents can make local calls, call long-distance (this will be charged back to the room or you can use a phone card), and receive calls. To receive a call, you or your loved one will need to reserve the phone room for a specific day and time. The phone room is a small, private room with a table and some chairs to allow your loved one to talk to you in a homey, comfortable, and private setting. We do not permit cell phones in our facility–for residents and guests. The reason for this is that cell phones can sometimes interfere with medical monitors and other medical equipment that may be in use. This is a safety consideration. If your loved one would like a land-line phone installed in his or her room, please contact us at Baxter Bayou In some cases, this can be arranged. You would be responsible for phone installation and service charges.
Do you offer single rooms?
Baxter Bayou offers single and double rooms. Surprisingly, many of our residents are happier in double rooms because it gives them a bit more companionship. Double rooms are actually large rooms that are more or less divided in half. Each resident has curtains which can be pulled around the bed and living area for privacy–but can be pushed back to open up the room. Single rooms are typically smaller. When you tour Arbor Acres and other local facilities, ask to see the different room configurations.
What about things like haircuts?
At Baxter Bayou, you’ll see we’ve thought of everything. We have a hair dresser and a barber who stop by periodically to care for our residents. You or your loved one can make an appointment, but our nursing staff will also look out for you and schedule one, when needed. This service is included. We also occasionally offer our ladies manicures and hair styling.
What is a “skilled nursing facility”?
Long-term care facilities are just like what they sound–they offer care for a long time, often to the end of life. Some long-term care facilities also offer “skilled nursing,” that is, there are highly trained nurses or other professionals on staff that offer physical therapy, speech therapy, or other specialized treatments. You and your physician can determine if you need skilled nursing care. Do not assume that all long-term care facilities offer skilled nursing care. Baxter Bayou is a skilled nursing facility, but many community long-term care facilities are not.
What if my family members gets to your facility and then decides she wants to come home?
Any time a person moves, there is always a certain level of stress–even if you are young, healthy, and the move is your idea! In fact, moving is considered one of the most stressful live events of all. It is not unusual for a loved one to resist the idea of moving and then to feel a little lost, depressed, or even angry about the move. In our experience, this is a common situation that is solved with the passage of time. Over time, most of our residents get so familiar with Baxter Bayou that they come to think of it as home. They get to know the other people there, become friendly with the staff, and get used to our routines. We find that with the passage of a few weeks or months, most residents are quite content where they are. As a family, you should try to visit often–especially at first. One of the biggest fears in making this transition is that the person will be forgotten. Visits can be very reassuring.
What are visiting hours?
Visits are very important; we find that residents who are visited frequently are the happiest in their new surroundings. They lose their anxiety that their families will forgot them. You may visit your loved on any day of the year (including holidays) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. We discourage visits outside these hours because most of our residents are asleep or getting ready for bed or getting dressed. We have a very structured routine in terms of getting up, meal times, and so on because that creates a sense of security and familiarity. Children are welcome to visit, but cannot visit without an accompanying adult.
Can I bring my loved one gifts?
Yes, most residents enjoy getting small gifts (who doesn’t?). Remembering any dietary restrictions your loved one has, a small food item (some bananas, small containers of potato chips, sugar-free candy) is good; so are things like a puzzle book, newspaper, craft item, small piece of inexpensive jewelry, item of clothing, blanket, or stuffed toy. Most of our residents are not good at keeping track of a lot of items, so avoid inundating them with “stuff” and do not give anything very valuable (it can get lost). Consumable gifts (lotion, soap, food) are particularly suitable. Cards, photographs, and pictures are also nice.
What are the pros and cons about long-term care?
Long-term care is not the right option for everybody. But if your loved one requires supervision or needs round-the-clock nursing care or needs highly specialized care (such as someone in rehabilitation following an accident), long-term care may be an excellent solution. It is difficult to make generalizations about long-term care–you have to decide if it is right for you and your family at this particular time. There may be a time when it is better for a person to remain in his or her own home or to live with a family member, and there may come a time when it is better to transition that person to a long-term care facility. This is a highly individual decision and one that must factor in the needs, concerns, and abilities of the whole family.
My loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. Can you care for her?
Yes, Baxter Bayou is particularly familiar with the care of people who have cognitive disorders (problems with thinking, memory, and motor skills), including people with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Our staff understands these conditions and is professionally patient with people who do not remember well. Our facility is set up to prevent your family members from wandering off–many people with Alzheimer’s Disease will try to do this. We have skilled nurses and clinicians who assess these conditions and work with people to exercise their memory. We also maintain a very structured environment and that often helps people with cognitive disorders get oriented. Moreover, our staff will make sure that even people with memory or other mental problems take all of their medicines, get all of their meals, bathe, dress, and live as normal a life as possible. (Many such people living alone will mix up their medications, skip meals, and stop bathing.)
Is there anything else I need to know about long-term care?
Yes. You should realize that there are many options available to you. Be willing to visit facilities, take a tour, and sit down with staff to discuss everything from medical care to room decor to prices. While there is an old-fashioned notion that long-term care is a bad choice, the fact is that in some situations it is a good choice and in others, it may be the only choice. Here’s why: long-term care provides round-the-clock supervision and nursing care for your loved one–things that most families simply cannot offer. Long-term care also allows the family to return to normalcy without neglecting the loved on–when families try to care for certain family members, the whole family may have to adjust its habits and needs to accommodate the care of one sick, aging, or cognitively impaired individual. We’ve seen this sort of situation upset children, cause problems with school or behavior, and even derail careers and cause depression and fatigue in adults. If you are faced with the care of another person and you are feeling overwhelmed, do not let other people’s opinions influence your decision. Every situation is unique, and what is right for you may not be right for everyone. Long-term care exists because there is a need for it. Sometimes family members require far more care than a family can provide–even the most loving, dedicated, caring family. If you decide your loved one requires long-term care, this in no way means you do not love them. In fact, it may be proof that you do!