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Talkin' 'Bout My Generation: Finding Long Term Care for Mom

This column is written by Ken Rechtin, Interim Executive Director of Senior Services of Northern Kentucky.

The response to these “Talkin’ ‘bout My Generation” columns has been overwhelming! The questions keep coming! Thanks for sending those questions to me. I will do my level best to address the question or the issues.

One of the most frequently asked questions is about choosing a nursing home. 
 
The assumption has to be made that mom can no longer live independently or even live in an assisted living facility. Only a nursing home facility can meet her needs. 
 
The hospital has called and decisions need to be made. Many times there is little time. So, planning ahead always helps in making better decisions. It is good to think a little about this in advance.
 
Where do you go for advice? How do you determine the best facility for mom?
 
These are not easy decisions. They involve the care of one very important to us!
 
How do I find and compare the various nursing homes out there?
 
Is there a difference between for profit and not for profits homes?
 
Who will pay for this care?
 
Please know that there are a broad range of choices for nursing homes.
 
Fortunately there is help!
 
There are numerous websites which offer help. So, if you will search (google): “Choosing a
 
Nursing Home”, you will find numerous sites to help you.
 
SSNK’s “NKY Senior Guide”, online edition which is available through the SSNK website, has 
 
listings of all the nursing homes in N. Ky.
 
Guess what! Government is also here to help! So many times, when I think of government, I do not have the feeling that the offering of help by government is something worthwhile. But, in this case, government shines. Please go to the following website: http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html
 
At this site there is a document called: “Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home”. There is an excellent checklist to compare nursing homes within this 72 page booklet.
 
But, after going through all of this, the best advice given to me by a nursing home provider was similar to advice received from realtors when choosing a new home:
  1. Visit the home often at different times of the day.
  2. Make sure the home meets the physical and emotional needs of your mom. 
  3. Choose a nursing home for mom near to where you live so that you can visit often.
The third factor is very important, as realtors say: It is all about “Location, location, location!”
 
After all the comparisons are done, you have visited the homes numerous times and you have met with the staff and the administrator, the deciding factor might very well be the place close to your home.
 
But, that is not so easily accomplished here in Northern Kentucky. Kentucky is a “certificate of need” state. Nursing home beds are allocated by county by a certificate of need process. A very complicated formula based on old population data which has resulted in distribution of nursing home beds disproportionate to the population in the counties served.
 
By comparing just the three counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell, we can see the variances:
 
  • Boone County has 317 allotted beds in three facilities in a county with a population of 123,000.
  • Kenton County has 739 allotted beds in seven facilities in a county with a population of 162,000.
  • Campbell County has 714 allotted beds in four facilities in a county with a population of 91,000.
So, you can see, looking for a nursing home close to your home, so that you can visit mom 
 
frequently can be just a little bit difficult if you live in Boone County.
 
So, what have we learned?
 
  1. Find and compare nursing homes using a checklist like the one on the government site
  2. Visit the home often.
  3. Make sure it is one that you can and will visit frequently.
 
Remember, you can always call on staff here at Senior Services of Northern Kentucky to help as well!
 
Ken Rechtin is the Interim Executive Director of Senior Services of Northern Kentucky. Senior Services of Northern Kentucky is a 501c3 not for profit serving the needs of the Northern Kentucky aging population for 51 years. Ken is also one of the “Baby Boomers” (He is 63 years old!).

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