Although the majority of the hands-on caregiving responsibilities may not be yours when your aging loved one enters a skilled nursing facility, it does not mean that there is nothing to do. Instead, when your loved one enters a long-term care facility of any kind, your responsibilities change. If you were the primary caregiver charged with preparing meals, transportation to doctor and specialists appointments, or simply sitting with the senior in the evenings, these responsibilities are still there.

Now, however, they may take a different form.

For example, the nursing home will most likely have a doctor who comes to the facility to attend to your loved one. It will also prepare meals and ensure that someone will check in on your loved one in the evenings. In most instances, your parent or grandparent may be sharing a room with another person so he or she will most likely not be alone throughout the day.

While your role evolves with the changes to the location of your loved one, it is no less important. Rather than completing the tasks yourself, now you need to ensure not only that they are done, but done well.  Unfortunately, there may be a gap at times between the care that should be provided and what is actually given to the resident of the facility. As the advocate for the older person, you can make a difference in the care received by being present in the facility and as a part of the care team.

Let us share a few elder care tips with you this National Elder Law Month that you may use as you advocate for your loved one in a nursing home.

1. Meet with the employees at the nursing home.

You want to know who is caring for your loved one. This means meeting with the care team. Do not only meet them when your loved one enters the facility, attend any meetings on your loved one’s care and ask questions. You may ask questions such as: How will he or she be supervised throughout the day? Who will administer his or her medicines? How will you be notified if things change with your loved one or in the facility?

2. Check in, frequently and unexpectedly at the nursing home.

In addition to meeting with the employees at the  facility, check in frequently. The more you can be present and a voice in your loved one’s care, the more likely it is that he or she will receive the needed care. Unfortunately, facilities are busy places and you do not want your parent or grandparent’s needs to be lost in the shuffle. Further, be sure to check in unexpectedly to see how the facility is operating when you do not have a planned visit.

3. Monitor and address any changes in your loved one’s behavior.

You know your loved one better than anyone else. You will be the best person to identify if there is a change to him or her mentally or physically. Do not hesitate to inspect your loved one for injuries and ask questions if there are changes. Bear in mind, not all harm is apparent upon a light inspection.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. These are just a few of the elder care tips we can provide you as you care for a loved one in a skilled long-term care facility. We encourage you to ask us for a free case evaluation if you have questions or concerns about the care your loved one is receiving. We are your local team and are here to assist you 24 hours a day.