Skilled Nursing Facility

With the baby boomers aging in the U.S., healthcare treatments and medications improving and people generally becoming more conscious of behaviors that impact their health, the end result is a growing elderly population. Although 70 may be the new 60, and older people may remain active longer, there still may come a time when an individualís health issues make it impossible to live independently. This is where a skilled nursing facility may be beneficial.

The Purpose

A skilled nursing facility is designed to provide a high level of care for an elderly person who is no longer able to function independently, but does not need to be a hospital patient. Caretakers at such a facility typically provide assistance with getting in and out of bed, dressing, bathing, toileting, feeding, exercising and taking daily medications. Each patientís care is supervised by a licensed physician, and skilled nurses are onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most facilities have staff members that provide regular physical, speech and occupational therapies. Other staff members may be responsible for making sure each patient walks daily as well as spends some time outside in the sun.

Special Features

The special features of a skilled nursing facility are important considerations for potential residents and their families. Many offer a choice of taking meals in a centrally located dining area, or having them delivered to the room. There may be an option for a private room or a shared room with a roommate. Being able to bring personal belongings to the facility, such as a television, a favorite chair, comfortable clothing, personal pillows and bedding and cherished family photos may make the transition a little easier for the new resident. Once it is determined that a loved one can no longer live safely at home, the goal is to find a facility in which that person might be most comfortable.

A Checklist

When faced with a move to a skilled nursing facility, it is a good idea to visit several for comparison. Some things to consider include the cleanliness of the facility, the type of food that is served, specific activities that are offered for residents and special treatments that may be available for issues like memory loss, lack of mobility and mental confusion. Red flags when visiting prospective facilities may include residents who appear unkempt, staff members that appear rushed and harried, furniture and equipment that appears old and in poor condition along with drab wall colors and lack of visual stimulation.

Some of the most difficult aspects of moving a loved one to a full time care facility are guilt and money. Many children and spouses care for their loved ones at home as long as possible, but once the individual needs skilled nursing care, the family member may be unable or under qualified to provide the necessary care. Paying for the facility may be a challenge as Medicare coverage is limited. Long term care insurance is an option to consider before health begins to fail.