Americans are living longer than ever before. At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was about 47 years. As we entered the 21st century, life expectancy has almost doubled. As a result, we face more challenges and transitions in our lives than those who came before us. One of the most difficult transitions people face is the change from independent living in their own home or apartment to living in a long term care facility or “nursing home.”
The decision to move a family member or loved one into a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions you can make. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and even when choosing the best nursing home, the decision can be highly emotional and stressful. Perhaps the move is being made because the family member can no longer care for himself or herself, or has a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s, or has had a stroke or heart attack. No matter the reason, the typical decision to move a loved one to nursing home care is made under duress. Even if the hospital is pushing for a quick discharge so your loved one can be moved to an available nursing home bed, it’s important that you pause and take some time to research your options and make the right choices for you and your loved one.
There are many reasons why this transition is so difficult. One is the loss of home – a home where the person lived for many years with a lifetime of memories. Another is the loss of independence. Still another is the loss of the level of privacy we enjoy at home, since nursing home living is often shared with a roommate. Most people who make the decision to move to a nursing home do so during a time of great stress. Some have been hospitalized after a stroke, some have fallen and broken a hip, still others have progressive dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, and can no longer be cared for in their own homes.
Whatever the reason, the spouse or relative who helps a person transition into a nursing home during a time of stress faces the immediate dilemma of how to find the right nursing home. The task is no small one, and a huge sigh of relief can be heard when the right home is found and the loved one is moved into the nursing home. For many, the most difficult task is just beginning: How to cope with nursing home bills that may total $7,000 to $8,000 per month or more?
In my next posts, I’ll discuss ways to pay for a nursing home.
This article is part of the eFuneral Resource Center and was written by Timothy J. Forrestal, an accomplished Cleveland, Ohio-based attorney with an impressive track record in the fields of elder law and estate planning. He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section of the Ohio State Bar Association, the AARP Legal Services Network and the Better Business Bureau. For more information, please visit www.forrestallaw.com. Th
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