The Decision

Resources: Weighing nursing homes, other choices

Know the options

• In both states, nursing care starts with adult day care and progresses to 24/7 nursing facilities. For more information:



• Both states also have continuing care retirement communities that provide residents a full range of housing options — moving from “independent living” apartments or condominiums for those who are healthy to more care-intensive assisted living and later to skilled nursing facilities. Find out if a continuing care retirement community is accredited and get advice on selecting this type of community from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission by calling 202-587-5001. You can also visit


• Home- and community-based care: Most elderly people are cared for at home, frequently by unpaid family or friends. Lawmakers have long recognized that home care is both less expensive for families and taxpayers and, for many elderly people, preferable to receiving care in an assisted living or nursing facility.

Choosing a nursing home

The federal Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services offers a thorough guide to choosing a nursing home. It’s available at

or by calling 800-633-4227. Ask for Publication No. 02174.

Among the recommendations:

• Ask trusted friends and others such as neighbors, clergy, physicians, nurses, social workers and hospital discharge planners for recommendations.

• Find services through the Eldercare Locator,

or 800-677-1116.

• Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to ask for a list of long-term care facilities. In Jackson, Platte, Cass, Clay and Ray counties,


• Use Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website,

. It compiles information on nursing homes certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. The site offers a five-star rating system and detailed information on health inspections, staffing, fire safety inspections and other quality measures.

• Talk to your area’s long-term care ombudsman through the local Area Agency on Aging. The ombudsman program works as the voice of nursing home residents to act in their behalf to solve problems. Ask questions such as how many complaints the ombudsman has received about a particular nursing home, what kind of complaints and whether the problems were resolved.

• Nonprofits offer inspection reports and other guidance. In Kansas, Kansas Advocates for Better Care at


Help for those staying independent

Numerous nonprofits including the Shepherd’s Center as well as the federally mandated Area Agencies on Aging offer advice and resources to help people stay in their homes. Some services might be available and paid for through the Older Americans Act, Medicaid and Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Benefits.

If you are eligible for Medicaid, some costs and services could be paid for through the Home and Community-Based Waiver Programs. For more information, contact your Area Agency on Aging.

The Administration on Aging offers myriad resources at


Long-term care insurance: Depending on the policy, it can cover much or even all of the cost of nursing care or even at-home care. Choosing a policy is not easy. Much must be take into consideration, such as the age at which the policy is bought (the younger you buy, the less it costs) to the benefits covered and even the length of benefits. Useful consumer guides:



The National Council on Seniors Drug & Alcohol Rehab offers resources at: