Although your parents are getting older, they seem to be in great health. And then, quite unexpectedly, something happens. There is a fall and a hip is broken; a sudden heart attack; or a life-altering stroke. After a rushed trip to the hospital and successful operation, it is time for recovery.

The healing process for the elderly can take longer and may require specialized attention. One option is a skilled nursing facility – a place where patients can recover from injury, surgery or illness. When someone has been discharged from the hospital, but is not quite ready to return home and may need personalized care, a skilled nursing facility may be the best option.

Selecting the right facility can be difficult. These tips will aid you in making the best decision for your loved one.

  1. Determine your needs – Round-the-clock licensed nursing care, medication management, physical, speech and occupational therapy are all services available in a skilled nursing facility. Assess what your loved one will need for the best recovery.
  2. Determine your budget – Recovery care varies in price. Determine which funding source is appropriate – Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or out-of-pocket – and research the parameters of each. For example, Medicare may cover up to 100 days of care with a co-pay after 20 days.
  3. Learn your options – You don’t have to use the facility recommended by the discharging hospital. Ask friends, relatives and social workers for recommendations. The Internet can be a great source to review nearby facilities.
  4. Call and schedule a visit – Inquire about capabilities and services offered by a skilled nursing facility and set up a tour. Once there, consider the environment (is it inviting?); food choices (stay for lunch and sample the food); existing residents (are they recovering well?); and staff (are they attentive and engaged with the residents?).
  5. Follow-up, visit again – If you have time, make an unscheduled visit to ensure that the facility operates the same way as your first visit.
  6. Read the fine print. Once you decide, review all contracts carefully and understand your obligations and the limitations on your funding choices.

Although the decisions that must be made may seem overwhelming, don’t worry, you are not alone. Several resources are available to you. Discuss your concerns and questions with the hospital social worker. A nurse case manager at a skilled nursing facility is also available for you. In addition, online resources from The National Institute on Aging, AARP and Aging Parent and Elder Care have great information.

Overall, if you have an elderly parent, do your homework and research your care options now. Don’t wait for a life-changing event. Be prepared ahead of time.

Tisha Bell is a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) and serves as Administrator for Mount Royal Towers Skilled Nursing. As a premier senior community, Mount Royal Towers offers the most comprehensive selection of living options in the Birmingham area including senior apartments, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. For more information, contact Mount Royal Towers at (205) 870-5666 or online at

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