Holiday Considerations for Elderly in Long-term Care

Holiday Considerations for Elderly in Long-term Care

Posted on December 15, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Caregiver Education, Caregiving, Long Term Care Information, Medicare / Medicaid, Nursing Homes

Holidays can be challenge for nursing home residents

Holidays can be a challenging time for residents of long-term care facilities and their families.

Two questions are often asked: Can I bring my loved one homeor to a holiday celebration, and what can I do to ensure a successful visit that doesn’t feel awkward?

Regarding visits away from a nursing home, residents receiving skilled nursing care may participate in short visits away from a facility, without danger of losing their Medicare coverage.

The Medicare Benefit Policy manual outlines rights of residents granted a short leave of absence to attend a family or religious occasion without jeopardizing their Medicare status.

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As long as a resident returns to the nursing home by midnight on the day of the leave, the facility may still bill Medicare for their stay. For families wishing to have a loved one home for an overnight visit, residents can leave a skilled nursing facility for short periods without losing their coverage. However, facilities may bill residents to hold their beds. Visit: medicareadvocacy.org/you-can-leave-the-nursing-home/ for more information.

Residents who utilize Medicaid for long-term care services may also be allowed to leave a nursing home for brief periods. The state Medicaid plan covers three reserve bed days for brief home visits without prior approval. A physician’s order is required for this arrangement.

Families wishing to optimize their visits with residents not physically able to leave a long-term care setting, may benefit from the following suggestions:

• Speak with facility staff. Is there a preferable date/time to visit so that your loved one can participate in holiday festivities? Ask about joining facility-sponsored events. Does your loved one have a time of day when he or she is more alert and able to enjoy a visit?

• Gift choices. Does your family member have dietary concerns which might restrict holiday treats such as candy or nuts? What activities has your loved one enjoyed? Are there items such as slippers, a robe, or pictures from home that he or she might find comforting? Might audiobooks or other technological items be enjoyed?

• Children/grandchildren. Residents often enjoy visits from children or grandchildren, but it may be helpful to prepare young children or teenagers first. Brief visits for young children are preferable, whereas older children might enjoy a focused activity such as sharing a photo album. If your loved one is cognitively impaired, remind children (and adults) that it is not important that your loved one recall certain dates or events. Simply be with them.

• What else should I look for? Pay attention to appearance, including how residents are dressed and groomed. Observe whether your loved one has chapped lips or dry skin, which may indicate signs of dehydration. Is a water pitcher within reach?

• Observe environment, temperature and sounds/smells of the facility. Is staff responsive to residents? Notice staff interaction with residents – are nametags worn? Note response time to call lights or requests for assistance, and whether scheduled activities are actually happening in the facility.

Information for Caregivers

If you have concerns, bring them to the attention of the administrator or contact the long-term care ombudsman who visits the facility.

By: Gino Rinaldi, Cabinet Secretary of the state Aging and Long-term Services Department.

Published: Rio Rancho Observer