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Choosing a Nursing Home for an Elderly Relative

Posted Sep 13 2008 4:36am

When a family member needs a nursing home, it is always a dilemna about how to find the very best one. Those of us who have had to find a nursing home for a family member can tell some real horror stories about nursing homes with dirty floors, minimal bathing of patients and inadequate nursing care. I have also had teenage patients in nursing homes when their disabilities were so severe that they could not be cared for at home.

The very best way to check out a nursing home is to visit at different times of the day, interview staff members and see how the patients are being treated. If there is an air of depression, the patients are not up in wheelchairs or watching television, a red flag should immediately go up.

There are two Web sites that give information about nursing homes. These are: The National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform at www.nccnhr.org and the Medicare Web site at: www.medicare.gov/NHcompare.

One of the major medical problems in nursing homes is, first that doctors do not need to visit patients more than once a month. This to me is unbelieveable. The second major problem is that elderly patients are often heavily medicated so that they do not cause disturbances. If an elderly patient seems to be going rapidly down hill and is on an antipsychotic drug, it would be worthwhile to ask for a second opinion from an outside doctor. Often, the doctors who prescribe these drugs are not psychiatrists or doctors who specialize in elderly patients. The elderly, like children, often react badly to medications and need smaller doses than healthy, younger adults. So the message from all of this is choose carefully and visit frequently if possible.

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