In developed countries, a fair number of the old and infirm live in care homes, personal care centres and adult family homes – all different ways of calling what is essentially an old age home. Living in an old age home is not seen as a sign of dereliction of duty on the part of the children nor do the elderly feel deserted (not always anyway). The reason for this is that the elderly get better care, better medical support and qualified supervision at these care homes than they can ever get from their own children (who may not be qualified to provide such a level of service).
In India on the other hand, even today, the phrase “old age home” carries only negative connotations. It is usually used as a synonym for a destitute home and means that the children have deserted the elder person – which reflects very badly on the children as well as the parents (for having brought up such children!).
However, this mindset is gradually changing thanks to a few good and affordable care homes that have come up in the recent past. These care homes provide independent or semi-independent accommodation, shared kitchen facilities, volunteering opportunities at various levels to suit every individual, assisted living support, regular medical attention and support, companionship, and group activities to keep everyone engaged and active through the day.
So, at some point in time, if you have ever wished for a nice place where you would be looked after by professionals, do not dismiss the thought because of the negative emotions attached to the phrase “old age home”. Do consider them a viable option, and check out a few of them before making any final decisions.
Here are a list of things you need to look out for/do while evaluating a care home for yourself or your parents:
- Consult all family members and get their acceptance before embarking on the evaluation process.
- Make a clear list of your needs, for now and for the future.
- Set a budget. Residential options including buying the property outright (usually valid only till your lifetime and will revert back to the care home after your passing), leasing and renting. In additional, there will also be a monthly component involved. So your budget should take into account the one-time costs and the recurring costs involved.
- Check whether the home will provide for your physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs.
- Don’t go by other peoples’ opinions. Go visit the place personally, inspect each facility critically and make sure you will be happy and comfortable in the surroundings.
- Talk to people already residing in the home. See if they are people you would like to grow old with. If the management and staff are reluctant to let you talk to the residents that is not a good sign.
- Talk to the staff. Watch how they deal with the other residents. Are they courteous? Are the caring? Are they attentive? Don’t get taken in by the marketing spiel.
- Check if you will have enough independence and privacy, when required. Ideally, you should have at least a room for yourself so that you have a place all your own when you need it.
- Ensure that visits from family are unrestricted and that visitors will have a place to stay when they visit. Also check and make sure the home does not restrict you from visiting friends and relatives when you want to.
- Ensure that you are completely convinced that the place is geared to take care of you not just now but also later when you are older and may have more needs. Remember there may come a time when you may need extensive support and ensure that the place you choose can handle such a situation.
- Check all the documents and fine print thoroughly.
- If the option is available, stay there on a short term rental basis before committing. If you finally decide to move in, do a thorough job of all the document work and keep a copy of all the documents and receipts safely. Have some relative or friend living outside keep a copy for emergencies.
- Finally, provide proper instructions on what to do and who to call in case of emergency.
- Not all homes are right for everyone. So choose the right home wisely.
One final word of advice – Make sure that the final decision is that of the person who is going to stay at the care home. Every person should have the right to say “no” to the option of staying at a care home – even without having to provide any justification for the decision.