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Aging is a natural transition in life. It is a process that does not happen overnight, yet many of us find ourselves in a crunch when it comes time to get help for an aged loved one. As one who is caring for a senior parent, it seems that much of the hesitation to begin the elder care conver­sation is part deep concern, and part figuring out where to start.

While studies show that seniors age better at home, there may come a time when doing so is no longer an option because of the need for medication management, 24-hour health care super­vision, or certain types of medical equipment not available for home use.

Choosing a Home

Choosing a nursing home requires homework and early prepa­ration. Navigating the costs, depending on the type of medical insurance coverage, can be daunting, and there are times when an individual, following a hospital stay may go directly to a nursing home.

As you think about nursing home placement and develop a plan, Medicare offers some guidance through a checklist you may consider.  It’s a good place to start the thinking process and devel­oping additional questions that give you comfort.

The Bright Focus Foundation also produced an article with infor­mation focused on the issues of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, two condi­tions that may not enable your loved one to express feelings or concerns about the day-to-day happenings in the facility.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Admin­is­tration, also known as ACHA, provides a website that includes star ratings for nursing homes based on inspec­tions perfor­mance as well as an annual report of licensure sanctions. The site also includes changes of nursing home or assisted living facility ownership; names of providers who are no longer licensed; and limited filed civil claims infor­mation. The site also has a wealth of other infor­mation that may be helpful to you and other health decision makers in your family.

Audrey Gibson is a State Senator and Paralegal with Terrell Hogan Law Firm.