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Krapf: Loved ones deserve your attention to nursing home care

In World War II, they flew the great air missions, landed on the beaches and fought through six countries to free Europe from the clutches of an evil dictator. They fought in battle and worked in factories to build tanks, airplanes and ships and rationed their food, fuel and clothes for four long years. We know them better as our parents and grandparents.

Those who made the great sacrifices for freedom and democracy now suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, debilitating arthritis, strokes, respiratory problems and other illnesses associated with their advanced age. While many families honor their parents and grandparents by keeping them at home and watching over them, inevitably, a decision must sometimes be made to place these loved ones in a nursing home for skilled, long-term care.

National and state statistics prove many nursing homes lack adequate staff and personnel, fail to follow doctors’ orders, fail to monitor their residents’ skin conditions, fail to meet their residents’ dietary requirements and fail to provide mental and physical therapies. In many instances, the law calls such oversights malpractice or negligence. Nursing homes are made to answer for their failures in a court of law.

Do your homework

Here are a few suggestions to help you make an informed decision:

Ask the administrator if the nursing home has liability insurance. If not, find another nursing home.

Ask to tour the entire nursing home. The representative might only show you the well-adorned lobby or an empty, recently cleaned dining room. Ask to see the most recent government inspection results. Under federal and state law, the inspections must be available upon your request.

Ask who the medical director of the nursing home is, and be confident he or she will provide competent care.

Ask about staff turnover. The fact the nursing home employees feel compelled to look for other jobs might signal a management problem and could mean your loved one will not get consistent care.

Check current and prior survey results at www.medicare.gov. This website, sponsored by the federal government, lists present and past survey results.

Ask friends, family, church members or your loved one’s doctor if they know about the nursing home. Many nursing homes develop a community reputation based on the experiences of others.

Attorney Brian E. Krapf may be reached at 912-232-6423 or email BKrapf@LaskyCooperLaw.com.

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