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The 9 Questions You Must Ask if a Loved One is Going Into a Nursing Home

As the founder of the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, I specialize in helping Michigan families protect their estates. Whether you are worried about nursing home expenses that exceed on average $8,000.00 per month, assisted living expenses, having your estate avoid probate court or planning for a special needs child or grandchild, I have helped thousands of families obtain peace of mind when faced with such issues. Often this involves qualifying for Medicaid or VA benefits, creating a trust for an estate or a special needs trust for a disabled loved one. Our mission at The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm is to help our clients...

• Find the right nursing home

• Get the best care at that nursing home

• Pay for nursing home care without going broke

The decisions to place a loved one into a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions you may ever be asked to make. That’s why it’s important, if the time comes, to have a plan and to know what questions to ask. In a perfect world, you’d have plenty of time to visit nursing homes, talk to residents, meet the care staff, sample the food and so on. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Often decisions have to be made quickly and without a lot of information or comparisons. You must know what questions to ask in order to make an informed choice. Here are some basic things to consider.

1. Is a nursing home necessary or are there alternatives?

In my entire practice as an Elder Law Attorney, I’ve never once heard a client say they were looking forward to going into a nursing home. Yet, often there are alternatives that people simply don’t know about. Talk to your physician, social worker, and other professionals to see if there are assisted living, home health care, or other alternatives for you.

2. How do I find the right nursing home?

The best way is to take the systematic approach “interviewing” several nursing homes. If this isn’t possible, at the very least, shop around. Personally visit each nursing home you are considering (making unannounced visits) and ask for recommendations.

3. Once I find the right nursing home, how can I get in?

Surviving the admissions process isn’t always easy. Be up front with the nursing home's admissions directors. Be

prepared to tell them about your situation, including your finances, and get on the waiting list.

4. Who will pay for my, Medicare, Medicaid?

It depends upon your financial situation and knowledge of this complicated area of law. It is critical that you protect your assets for your spouse if he or she will not be in the nursing home or for your children and their inheritance. An experienced Elder Law attorney can help you through this entire process.

5. Can they make my kids pay for my care?

No, but be careful to review everything that is put in front of you before signing. While they can’t make your kids pay, accidently signing a document could rope your kids into paying for your expenses.

6. Once I get in, how can I get the best care there?

The key is to have a proper care plan in place. That’s a plan developed by the nursing home staff professionals (and you) to determine exactly what kind of care you’ll get. Putting a proper care plan in place is perhaps the most important step you can take...the care plan is part of your contract. If you feel that you can’t be the best advocate for yourself, then it’s important to get help from an elder law attorney or a geriatric care manager or another health care professional.

7. Can I be moved around the facility, from room to room, once I’m admitted?

There are several protections for you under Federal and State law. Oftentimes, people are moved around without proper notice, and even without proper authority. Spend time learning about your rights as a resident, or work with someone who will be an advocate for you.

8. What are the nursing home’s duties to me?

Ask them for a copy of their duties under the Nursing Home Reform Act. Because of a previous history of inadequate care, Congress passed laws which outline the minimum standards for health, safety and resident rights in nursing homes. Chances are you’ll be surprised and pleased to learn all of your rights...but it’s necessary to take the time to do so.

9. Is there someone who can help me with all of this?

You can get help from many professionals...from an elder law attorney to a geriatric care manager, to social workers. Be sure to deal with a professional who understands the broad range of issues that arise when you or your loved one goes into a nursing home. At The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping you find the right nursing home, getting the best care there, and showing you how to pay for it without going broke.

Elder Law Today is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The newsletter is published as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.


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