Be nice to your kids.They will choose your nursing home.

Nursing homes are among the most regulated institutions in the United States. In Texas, a nursing home is considered a health care provider. That is both good and bad – it can be sued for acts of medical malpractice, but is also entitled to the same statutory protections afforded physicians and hospitals (such as caps on damages).

A nursing home may be liable for the negligent acts of its employees. It has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the health and safety of its residents. Many lawsuits against nursing homes are for physical injuries suffered by a resident – bedsores, malnutrition, drug overdoses, preventable falls, unlawful restraints.

If you have sufficient capacity to care for your personal needs, and a guardian has not been appointed for you, then you have the right to decide if you are going to move to a nursing home. Many times the decision, however,  is out of your control because of a progressive physical decline. In that event, your stay at the nursing home may be permanent. Other times, your stay will be temporary. For example, you may need a nursing home standard of care for a period of time after being discharged from a hospital, and don’t have the resources for at-home care.

Choosing the right nursing home is extremely important for your health and safety. Nursing home patients are, by definition, the most vulnerable of the adult population. Most people will choose the best that they can afford. This isn’t the time to save your money for the next generation.

That said, scams and kickbacks in nursing homes do happen. Some nursing homes will try to force you to use a certain company for Medicaid planning, which in turn will try to sell you an annuity. Other nursing homes will try to force a relative to personally guarantee the nursing home bill. If you run into one of those traps, keep shopping. Just like every other industry, there are honest companies and there are dishonest companies.

This is an important decision for you and your family. Spend a moment and make sure it is the right one.