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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published May 05 2012

Bursack: Care ombudsman can help with transitions

Dear Carol: My mother has been in assisted living for several years. Now, her health is deteriorating and her assets have dwindled to almost nothing.

I’m afraid moving her to a nursing home is the only choice. I’m not sure how to go about the change, or when to do this. The financial aspects worry me. Where do I start? – Michael

Dear Michael: One of the best resources for information about transferring a resident from one type of facility to another is through your community’s long-term care ombudsman.

Besides advocating for people who are unhappy with nursing home or other long-term care, the long-term care ombudsman can help with transitional situations such as the issue with your mother.

An easy way to find your ombudsman is through the National Long-term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) at www.ltcombudsman.org. The ombudsman program is funded by the Administration on Aging. The AoA website, at www.aoa.gov, also offers a wealth of information on aging services. For people who prefer the phone to a website, call the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116.

According to NORC, your ombudsman:

If you choose to use the NORC website, simply type in the Zip code for the facility you are interested in and you will see the contact information for a person who can help you with your questions. You can also find the contact at your state’s website.

Because I receive a number of questions from people wondering about nursing home resident discharges, as well as medication issues in some nursing homes, I’m adding below more information from the NORC site about other concerns an ombudsman can address:

A trained long-term care ombudsman is available to help guide people with questions about long-term care. If the ombudsman can’t directly help with the issue, he or she likely can direct you to another resource.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com.