Finding a long-term care facility for your parent can be easier with the right game plan. Start off by determining what level of care your parent or parents need.

If you parent has minimal medical needs and only needs help with daily chores, consider assisted living facilities. If your parent has more pressing medical concerns or cognitive impairment, a nursing home is probably a better fit. Then there are continuing care retirement communities which some would say offer the best of both worlds by providing a range of care options in stages within one community setting.

If you are unsure about what level of care is best for your parent, get your parent’s permission to discuss the matter with their doctors. A professional geriatric care manager can also help you assess your parent’s needs and can help make recommendations for long-term care. And do not overlook your parents as a resource to determine their needs. It is important to talk to your parents about their preferences for a long-term-care facility as well.

Cost will have a large bearing on which facilities are available to you. From the beginning you should determine how much you and your parents can afford and how the bills will be paid. If you plan on using Medicare or Medicaid to cover some or all of the expenses, you have to look for facilities that accept these programs. Your first questions when contacting potential care facilities should be about pricing. Some facilities may be ruled out by price alone.

Once you find several facilities within budget that meet your requirements, start asking questions. Find out how many residents there are, how many staff members there are on each shift, what rules govern the residents, what rules govern visitors, how and why residents are discharged, what type of social activities are organized and what type of medical support is provided. Check out potential care facilities with the Better Business Bureau and your local long-term care ombudsman to see if there have been any complaints about the facility or its staff.

Finally, visit the facility. Talk to residents about how they like it there. Take note of how friendly the staff is to residents. Visit more than once at different times of day to get a rounded impression of the quality of life in that facility.

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