Guest Column: Better to be proactive in senior care living

Published 9:09 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guest Column by Katie Davis

Katie Davis is the campus administrator at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

As a senior care provider, I have always assumed the role of provider and never the role of family member. The past few months, I have had the opportunity to truly see nursing home care through the eyes of a family member versus through the eyes of a provider.

Katie Davis

Katie Davis

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My husband’s grandmother was recently admitted into a rural skilled nursing home.  As I reminisce through process of transitioning my husband’s grandmother from an independent housing with services facility to a skilled nursing care center, I felt as though I was being reactive instead of proactive in terms of nursing home placement.  My life got busy with activities, friends, work, events and other pressing matters, and the thought of touring and learning about area nursing homes never crossed my mind. My husband’s grandmother was a healthy senior who I felt would be independent for quite some time.

Most people never know when a crisis or an urgent need for nursing home placement will occur. Waiting for a crisis to occur before putting a safe care plan in place makes for added stress, pressure and anxiety for the entire family.

In my husband’s grandmother’s circumstance, a sudden stroke sent her to the emergency room, followed by placement into a skilled nursing facility. During this emergency situation, I would have been more at ease if I would have educated myself on the town’s nursing home, services provided at the nursing home, quality measure information, survey information, etc. This education would have allowed me to be a better resource for my husband’s family.

Change is difficult and challenging for just about everyone. Removing oneself from his/her familiar environment to a non-familiar setting can be truly life changing. Some family members find it very hard to propose the subject of long-term care, home care, senior living care or even respite care. Why? Because it can be a very uncomfortable topic to visit about. This topic can sometimes feel confrontational or hurtful, and often times the reaction from a loved one is simply resistance.

In my husband’s grandmother’s situation, she was not going to move into a care center and would become angry if we even talked about her moving. Now, she absolutely loves living in a care center. Friends, birds, squirrels, visitors and family consume much of her time at the care center.

I urge families to be proactive in the care plans for their loved ones. Touring and visiting area skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities will alleviate stress and anxiety during a potential crisis situation.

Choosing a nursing home can be a confusing, difficult journey. One tool that can help you find the best location for your loved one is the Nursing Home Compare website managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The site helps you to compare skilled care centers by viewing their ratings in three categories: health inspections, quality measures and staffing. However, the best possible research you can do is to visit the location in person.

See where your loved one will be. See who their friends will be. See who their caregivers will be. Most importantly, see if your heart and mind feel at peace there.