7 Things To Do BEFORE Your Parent Goes To a Nursing Home

by | Apr 7, 2022 | Aging Parents, EC-ChallengesOfCarePage, Nursing Home

Taking care of these seven things before your parent goes to the nursing home will save you time, money, and heartache.

The decision to go into a nursing home is rarely an easy one, but there are things you can do to make the transition is a little easier. In this article, we’ll discuss the following more in depth:

  1. Choosing the right facility
  2. Checking for benefits to pay for care
  3. Be careful what you sign
  4. Know who can make decisions
  5. Don’t take valuables
  6. Make sure legal documents are in place
  7. Freeze their credit

Now let’s take a deeper dive into what you should do before your parent goes into a nursing home.

1. Choose the right facility. 

This can feel overwhelming, but by choosing a facility that offers the right kind of care, or a range of care, you may minimize having to move your parent as their health changes. Because we help people with these decisions all the time, we know the local facilities and enjoy being a resource for our clients as they are making these difficult decisions. Give us a call if you have questions about local facilities.

2. See if your parent or loved one qualifies for additional financial benefits to help pay for their care.

You may be surprised that your parents may qualify for benefits to help pay for their care. Those benefits will help with the mounting costs of a nursing home, which now average about $7,000/month in Central Illinois. Every family should consult with an experienced elder law attorney before giving up on the prospect of additional benefits. Many families miss out on benefits for which they could qualify, because they wrongly assume “nothing can be done now” or “it’s too late.” It’s never too late!

3. Know exactly what you’re signing.

Oftentimes, when a parent is entering a nursing home it is at the height of a stressful situation. You just need someone to help you care for them. But before that can happen, you’re handed a HUGE administrative packet of information to sign. Beware of what you’re signing! And if you have questions, consult with an elder law attorney. Do not rush through and just sign without reading all the fine print. Sometimes by signing as “responsible party,” you’re opening yourself up to personal liability to pay the nursing home costs.

4. Know who can make important decisions.

Once your parents move into a nursing home facility, it is best if they legally designate “helpers” to make decisions if the time comes that they can no longer make their own decisions. A power of attorney is an important legal document that authorizes someone to represent or act on your behalf. They will need two different power of attorney documents: one for medical decisions and another for financial decisions.

5. Don’t take valuables into the facility.

Your mom might really take comfort in having things like her jewelry with her, but if that jewelry is very sentimental or valuable, you should never let it go to the nursing home with her. It is far too easy for valuable things to disappear in long-term care environments.

6. Make sure basic legal documents are in place.

In addition to powers of attorney (mentioned in #4 above), you want to make sure there is a Last Will & Testament in place, along with other helpful estate planning documents dependent on your situation. These documents can include trusts, and end-of-life documents like a POLST.

7. Freeze their credit.

Chances are, if your parent is entering a nursing home, then you won’t be purchasing anything with credit. Sadly, there is great potential for financial elder abuse to occur when someone is in a nursing home, so it is easier to just freeze the person’s credit and protect them.

As always, we hope that you’ve found this list to be a valuable resource. At Edwards Group we truly desire to help make this stressful time a little less stressful. That’s why we created our Elder Care Advisors division! Elder Care Advisors help seniors and their families make the best legal, financial, and care decisions possible. They are uniquely qualified to answer many of the difficult questions that arise as your loved ones age. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call today at 217-726-9200 and we’d be happy to help.