How to Choose a Nursing Home

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Nursing homes often become an extension of a hospital stay for seniors on Medicare or Medicaid. When choosing a nursing home for rehabilitation, it’s important to know Medicare will pay only a portion of the costs. For example, Medicare will cover the daily fee, for the first 20 days, upon pre-approval by a medical doctor and then may pay for days 21 through 100, the maximum stay for reimbursement. This means that Medicare’s full benefit upon doctor approval only pays for a little more than three months of a nursing home stay.

Medicaid, the low-income version of Medicare, does pay for ongoing stays in nursing homes that accept Medicaid as payment.

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home
  1. Organize the senior’s long-term financial capabilities​ including monthly income and all assets owned, including homes and cars. Review ​​Medicaid​ financial qualifications for the state where the senior lives. This allows you to financially prepare for long-term nursing home care needs and possible Medicaid-spend down
  2. Find ​nursing homes​ in your area who accept Medicare as payment vs. Medicaid as payment.​ Usually nursing homes primarily accepting Medicare or private pay will allow a senior to stay if they spend-down to Medicaid even though they would not accept the senior on Medicaid as a new patient. Keep in mind that as Medicaid reimbursements can be lower, the 100% Medicaid nursing homes may not offer as many amenities.
  3. Review Caregiverlist nursing home ​star ratings,​​ which include the top criteria impacting quality of care: Overall Medicare Star Rating, % of Short-stay Residents with Pressure Sores, Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) hours per resident per day, % of Long-term Residents whose need for help with Daily Activities has increased. Make special note of the C.N.A. hours per resident as many times nursing homes suggest hiring a private duty caregiver if more care is needed when the staffing ratio is only 1 C.N.A. to 12 or more residents.
  4. Review the ownership of the nursing home. ​Nursing homes may be owned by hospitals or healthcare groups or equity groups. This will be an indication of what focus is more important: care or profits.
  5. Find licensed senior home care agencies in your area to have as an alternative to nursing ​home care. Senior home care agencies provide one-to-one care and often cost less than a nursing home.

You Want Me to Do What With My Leg? The Surprising Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

As we age, the general consensus seems to be that we need to take it easy, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Less movement means we are more likely to experience health issues such as arthritis, lower joint flexibility, chronic pain, and sleep issues. Luckily there is an activity that can help with these issues, even if you are already experiencing them – yoga.

You might be thinking that you can’t possibly twist yourself into a pretzel, but yoga doesn’t have to be painful or even dangerous. a such as the Warrior, Tree, Seated Twist, and Cow are all moves with low impact and strain, and all provide some of the following benefits:

You might be thinking that you can’t possibly twist yourself into a pretzel, but yoga doesn’t have to be painful or even dangerous. Simple moves such as the Warrior, Tree, Seated Twist, and Cow are all moves with low impact and strain, and all provide some of the following benefits:

1. Movement – You may have noticed that your movement, balance, and flexibility just aren’t what it used to be. While yoga can’t return you to the limberness of your twenties, it can greatly improve it. Think of yoga as a daily realignment, teaching your body to naturally fall into the proper posture to maximize comfort, balance, and even respiratory function. The smooth, fluid movements are low-impact, working to slowly work stiff joints. After each session you’ll notice your flexibility is slightly improved from the last time.

2. Pain Relief – Millions of people suffer from chronic pain, desperate for relief. The good news is that yoga can help. Chronic pain has been shown to decrease gray and white matter in the brain, leading to decreased cognitive functioning and higher pain perception. Yoga replenishes your brain matter as well as reduces one of the common aggravators of chronic pain – stress. Yoga that focuses on relaxation, such as restorative or gentle yoga, could be the pain reliever you are looking for, giving you the ability to pursue other physical activities that your pain once kept you from.

3. Sleep – How many times do you see seniors depicted as spending their day napping on the sofa? While this is a stereotype, you might prefer a nap if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, which can carry over into your daily life. Would you rather go on a brisk walk or take a snooze since it didn’t happen last night? Yoga can promote healthy sleep patterns, giving you the energy to conquer the day and put a little pep in your step.

If you are interested in giving yoga a try, give your local yoga studio a call or check with a senior center to see about potentially starting a class. Yoga can be done in your home as well, so invite over a friend, and get to it.

By now we all know that physical activity is good for you, but how much walking can you do before you are bored of the idea all together? Don’t give up just yet, as regular exercise can prevent and delay disease, improve mood, and increase flexibility. If you are looking for a fun way to get moving again, check out these suggestions:

1. Bowling – You’re probably wondering how bowling is possibly considered a form of exercise. Well, it is! The metabolic rate for sitting is 1.0, which is the number of calories burned. Bowling comes in at 3.5, which is comparable to playing a round of golf (minus the sweat). While bowling won’t improve your cardiovascular system, your musculoskeletal system will take a positive hit from the short bursts of energy: getting up, taking your turn, repeat. If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle up to this point, bowling is a great way to make the transition.

2. Wii Games – If you have grandkids or have been around young children, you are likely familiar with the Wii craze. A Wii is a gaming system that allows you to enter the virtual world via a remote. You can golf, bowl, play tennis, practice yoga, or even drive a racecar. While this system was originally intended for entertainment, add-ons such as balance boards and remotes that monitor arm movement encourage physical activity and fun.

3. Spinning – Dust off your old bike or join a spinning class to enjoy a favorite childhood pastime. While your days of pedaling furiously up and down hills might be behind you, you can certainly slow it down to a more manageable speed, strengthening your heart and raising your lung capacity. You’ll find that you also build muscle strength, fighting back against muscle loss and improving balance and coordination.

As you can see, getting active doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. Find an activity you enjoy and reap the physical health benefits as an added bonus.