Aging Well: How to select a care home
If you have a senior who needs more medical care than you can give at home, there are places that can help. But the choices can be overwhelming. When Carole Kai Onouye's mother could no longer walk well and started losing her memory, she knew it was time to find a care home.
WAHIAWA, Hawaii - If you have a senior who needs more medical care than you can give at home, there are places that can help. But the choices can be overwhelming.
When Carole Kai Onouye's mother could no longer walk well and started losing her memory, she knew it was time to find a care home. "You always think of your mother as eternal and always there for you. When she's unable to help herself, it's a very sad thing," recalls Onouye.
It was also challenging. "It's stressful because I had no idea where to go, where to put her," she adds.
That's something many adult children struggle with when that discussion comes up. So, what should you look for in a care home? Healthcare workers say there is no "perfect" place because every person's needs differ.
Tate Tsukamoto works at Wahiawa General Hospital, which is not only a medical center but also has a nursing home. "To me, it's about finding the right fit for your family member, finding a place you're comfortable with," he starts.
A palce like Wahiawa General Hospital's Long Term Care unit is good for seniors who are disabled or need constant medical attention. "There's 24 hour nursing care, CNAs [certified nursing assistants] to help with daily activities like bathing, grooming, and hygiene, even eating if need be," he describes.
He suggests you tour a handful of places, keeping a checklist that includes: What level of care is needed? What location are you looking for? What activities are at the facility? What kinds of therapy do they have?
When you're there, see how you like the staff, and if the residents look comfortable. Ask the ratio of nurses or nursing assistants, to patients- and don't wait until the last minute. Having a bed available when you need it is often an issue with long-term care homes. Experts suggest you look well before you need it, and line up about five different options.
Tsukamoto offers a frightening statistic: "In the state of Hawaii and nationally, there's a shortage of long term care beds."
Tsukamoto acknowledges it's not an easy decision for anyone to make. "Everybody would rather be at home, but sometimes it reaches a point where you need long term care," he says.
With some planning, though, it can be less stressful.